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Mobile Apps vs. Responsive Websites

Mobile Apps vs. Responsive Websites

Juniper Research is projecting online gambling revenue through mobile devices to reach $100 billion by the year 2017, so you know your casino needs a mobile presence. Any casino wanting to increase player loyalty and attract new players today needs an effective mobile strategy.

This is our one-stop guide to navigate you through your options for going mobile. Learn the difference between mobile apps, mobile sites, and responsive websites and what each does (or doesn’t do) for your casino’s marketing. At the conclusion of this article, we hope you have a better understanding of which option best suits the needs of your casino.

Mobile Apps

Do you want players to access your content or play games on their smartphone or tablet whether they’re online or not?  If your answer is yes, you’ll probably want to have a mobile app developed.

A mobile application is written specifically for an exact operating system like Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS. These apps are then made available for download; typically for free. Anyone with an iPhone or iPad will use iTunes to download their app; those with an Android phone or tablet will download from Google Play.

It should be noted that both Apple’s iTunes and Google Play forbid “content or services that facilitate online gambling” and have banned apps where legitimate money is gambled. This lack of mainstream accessibility hinders mobile gaming growth and has prompted many casinos to offer just-for-fun “free play” online versions of their games for the promotional reach of iTunes and Google Play.

Responsive Websites 

A few years ago, mobile sites were all the rage. Mobile sites allowed casinos to have separate mobile versions of their website to accommodate the screen sizes of various devices. It combined the functionality of a mobile app, letting users tap buttons and swipe content, with web design formatted for smaller screen resolutions. But having multiple versions of a website was neither ideal nor cost efficient.

Enter responsive design. This approach to website development allows for a seamless user experience across all devices without the need for multiple sites.  As the name implies, your site “responds” to accommodate the user’s device, platform, and screen size.

Mobile Apps vs. Responsive Design - Which Is Better?

When comparing responsive design to mobile apps, there are a few things to consider.

Benefits of a Responsive Website

For starters, smartphones and mobile devices (iPads and tablets) are becoming the primary way people connect to the Internet. This makes it important for every casino to ensure its web content is optimized for mobile. You want to make certain that anyone accessing your site from a smartphone or mobile device has an overall positive experience.

It’s also a given that any casino would want to rank prominently for relevant search terms. Mobile apps reside in a closed environment and are not indexed by search engines, making a responsive website critical in terms of reach and visibility.

Additionally, having just one website makes adding content, features, and enhancements much easier. There is no need to update multiple sites to accommodate users of different devices, platforms (iOS, Windows, Android) and their screen resolutions. 

Benefits of Mobile Apps

While responsive design means universal accessibility from any device - regardless of the platform or screen size - mobile apps offer some unique functionality of their own. Mobile applications are generally faster and load more smoothly than a responsive website. A responsive website also can’t incorporate many of the push notification features (badges, alerts, or pop up messages), smartphone camera, and GPS functions of a mobile app. Furthermore, responsive websites are completely reliant on cellular or Wi-Fi internet access, whereas mobile apps can generally run offline.

Two Tips to Make Your Responsive Website Respond to Smartphones

There are a few ways to give smartphone users a more interactive experience with your responsive website. First, be sure your responsive site syncs with geolocation APIs for people to easily access directions to your casino. Ensure your website includes click-to-call functionality, touch-friendly buttons and navigation, and text entry fields to create a seamless experience for the user.


Depending on your business goals and customer needs, both a mobile app and a responsive website may be needed to best serve your most loyal customers and attract new ones.

If budget concerns require you to choose one over the other, we would typically recommend that you prioritize the mobile-optimization of your website. Google searches are going to lead people to your casino’s website. You want the site to be responsive to that user’s device. Any social media marketing is also going to direct people to the website. So, it makes sense to get the website in order first by making certain your content and its presentation is mobile-friendly.

Mobile apps are worthwhile for casinos to develop so that they can provide their players with the high priority tools they would use most often. This would give your casino that “next level” solution and a valuable extension of your customer service.

In the end, it ultimately comes down to your casino’s primary needs. For example, if you want to enhance your player loyalty program, apps offer functionality that is ideal to best serve your most valuable players, and a mobile app may very well take precedent over your mobile-optimization of your website. Start by asking yourself what your primary objective or need is, and then go from there.

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