Glossary
Mobile App Terminology simply explained

What Are Social Casino Games?

Social casino games are free-to-play games that imitate the gambling experience without offering a real cash payout. These gamers play exclusively with virtual currency. Social casino games account for one of the biggest branches of social gaming.

Social casino game apps either imitate physical casino games, such as blackjack or slot machines, or they introduce a new twist into gameplay. Social casino games differ from real-money gambling for a few reasons. Social casino gamers don’t need to pay to play; they wager virtual bets with the credit they receive after installing the game.
Key Takeaways
  • Social casino gamers don’t need to pay to play; they wager virtual credits
  • Gamers in this vertical are among the oldest gamers in the mobile gaming landscape
  • Social casino is one of the top-grossing mobile gaming genres – after RPG and strategy games

Who Plays Social Casino Games?

Data tells us that social casino games have one of the oldest demographics in mobile gaming. But the user base is split up pretty evenly between male and female users. Women typically spend just under 17 minutes in gameplay a day and men just over 16 minutes. 

Perhaps the following fact is not a surprise given the nature of this gaming vertical: Gamers are more willing to spend their money on in-app purchases than other gamers. After the outbreak of COVID-19, the average spend per social casino gamer was almost 12 US dollars on in-app purchases per year.

abstract infographic of time spend in social casino games by age, gender, and region

Why Do People Play Social Casino Games?

The two main drivers that push social casino gamers into becoming committed users are made pretty obvious through the vertical’s name. These are the enticing social gameplay aspect as well as the all-important entertainment aspect. 

Socializing

Users of this vertical enjoy connecting with other players around the world via chat functions during gameplay. You can often also always compete against your friends – it doesn’t have to be strangers. 

And let’s not take anything away from the importance of social casino games’ competitive element. With elements such as a leaderboard, leagues, and tournaments, gamers are compelled to progress and outperform their rivals. This means they spend more and more time in the game perfecting their gambling strategies.

Entertainment

Without payouts, it costs social casino app publishers nothing to let users win. This means you’re usually more likely to win virtually than at a real-life casino. This encourages users to increase their session durations and frequency and hooks them in to becoming engaged gamers.

Not only that – many social casino app users have reported the similarities a social casino game offers to a real gambling experience. These include the visual imitation of a real casino and the rush of dopamine while playing. 

What Types of Social Casino Games Are There?

The world of social casino caters to all kinds of gamblers and gamers. The number of subverticals that make up this genre include:

  • Poker
  • Slot machines
  • Casino table games
  • Scratch-and-win lottery tickets
  • Blackjack
  • Bingo
  • Roulette
  • Multiplayer card games
types of social casino games in a infographic

Of all the social casino games out there, slot machine games are the most popular choice. But actually, we are seeing many top social casino gaming companies diversifying their title portfolio by creating hybrid games in an attempt to maximize user acquisition and monetization efforts. You need only look at Moon Active’s Coin Master as a perfect example of this strategy. It has combined midcore gameplay elements, such as PvP gameplay, to appeal to a much wider user base.

How Do Social Casino Games Monetize?

The estimated global value of mobile social casino games is currently around 6.2 million US dollars – and could reach 8.7 billion US dollars in 2026. In recent years, this gaming category has been hailed as one of the top-grossing mobile gaming genres worldwide – after role-playing games and strategy games. 

Especially during the pandemic, social casino games took the mobile app ecosystem by storm. And the growth hasn’t really stopped since. The only challenge that publishers might now face over the next months is fluctuating cost per installs. Although CPIs for social casino games on iOS increased following Apple’s IDFA updates, Android’s CPIs dropped in 2021. 

But if there’s something that has remained quite consistent in the social casino app market, it’s the overall monetization strategy. Social casino apps monetize based partly on in-app purchases and on in-app advertising. 

In-App Purchases

Like other mobile gaming genres, social casino apps often monetize through in-app purchases. Although there are many free-to-play social casino games, these apps monetize by driving their users to purchase additional credits once the initial credit runs out – once they have become engaged and regular players. 

For example, one of the highest-grossing social casino tites, Zynga’s popular Texas Holdem, gifts its users 60,000 free chips upon install, allowing them to get gripped by the game and persuaded to continue playing. Coin Master, Bingo Blitz, and Slotomania have also proved to be the big money-makers. By upselling credits to high-retention gamers, the vertical can easily transform from free-to-play to pay-to-play mobile games. 

In-App Advertising

Many app publishers are also trying to capitalize on hybrid monetization models. Did you know that around one-quarter of casino gaming app revenue comes from in-app advertising? These ads include formats such as banners, interstitials, playables, rewarded videos, or other rewarded formats. Diversifying ad formats simply allows publishers to leverage the benefits of various revenue streams rather than relying on just one for ad-based revenue.

Of course, the most effective ads don’t alienate or disrupt users from gameplay. They should ensure social casino gamers stay engaged and compelled to play the game. The longer a user stays in the game, the higher the ad consumption – and the higher the revenue.

Conclusion

The social casino app landscape is thriving – especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this gaming vertical might not currently be the highest-grossing mobile gaming vertical out there, there are many areas in which we may well see the vertical growing further. Not only are social casino publishers venturing out and dabbling in other subverticals to appeal to a much wider user base. They’re also leveraging trends such as growing interest in social apps and 5G technology for better multiplayer experiences. We might even see the emergence of AR or VR playing a part in the future of these games to render an even more realistic casino experience.

FAQs

What Are Social Casino Games?

Social casino game apps either imitate physical casino games, such as blackjack or slot machines, or they introduce a new twist into gameplay. There are many free-to-play social casino games where users just gamble for fun, not for a payout. These gamers play exclusively with virtual currency.

Why Do People Play Social Casino Games?

Many gamers are drawn to this vertical due to the enticing social gameplay aspect as well as the vital entertainment aspect. Social casino titles provide the right environment for users to chat with their friends or other gamers around the world and compete with them. Besides this, these kinds of gamers are drawn to the realistic in-game features that imitate a real casino.

What Are the Top Social Casino Gaming Companies?

The top social casino gaming companies that have published popular titles include Playtika, Moon Active, Huuuge Games, and Zynga.

How Do Free-to-Play Social Casino Games Monetize?

Social casino games monetize – like most mobile gaming verticals – through in-app purchases and in-app advertising. But as competition in the market grows, many app publishers are looking to diversify their monetization stack by introducing more types of advertising into their apps – such as rewarded advertising.

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