Possible or Impossible?
Software companies specializing in Internet betting are now fielding inquiries from customers outside of the U.S. who want to allow mobile users to play games and place bets. For now, Americans will have to go overseas, or sneak past the authorities, to use their cell phones for betting. For serious gamblers, it is just another reason to travel abroad.
The First Gaming Option
Software vendors expect wireless gambling to take off first in sports betting, including horse races and wagering on team matches. Initially, the bets will be made using simple text based programs or instant messaging, although a gambler's wish list would include streaming video of live games and races once 3G networks can handle the huge amount of data required. Lotteries are another early candidate for wireless, as are casino games like blackjack, slot machines, craps and roulette, where the player competes against the house.
Softer games like bingo, where users will play against each other, will be a bit more difficult to translate to wireless, but not impossible. The real test is poker, a multiplayer game where speed and simultaneous delivery matters. Since the newest cell phones are essentially mini computers, with full operating systems, excellent processor power, high-resolution color screens and good quality software with Java programming language, I tend to believe that impediments of any kind will be solved within a short time period.
Obstacles Facing Mobile Operators
The single biggest challenge is the processing of payments as it needs to cope with payments-in for wagers and payments-out for winnings. Premium SMS represents a secure and convenient payment breakthrough for low value wagers such as lottery tickets, however, for more serious gamblers, a gambling account separate from the mobile device account will be the preferred solution in the short term.