Social Casino Gaming Report Part 1: The Biggest Publishers Globally

Social casino games are one of the most lucrative segments in mobile games, and in the mobile app market at large.

To get a holistic picture of the social casino gaming market on mobile, we’ve created this report on the social casino gaming landscape. Part one of this three-part report, which will unfold over the next week, takes a look at the top publishers of social casino games on the Apple App Store and Google Play. All data estimates in this report were extracted from Distimo AppIQ.

Publishers of Social Casino Games Dominate the Top Publishers Leaderboards

While the app industry is fixated on the highest-grossing publishers — including Supercell, King and GungHo — on the top grossing leaderboards, publishers of social casino games own a sizable chunk of real estate in the top 100 of the top grossing leaderboards on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

On the AppIQ Apple App Store top overall grossing publishers leaderboard globally (in a seven-day period from March 17 to March 23), we identified 20 publishers among the top 100 who publish at least one social casino game. On an equivalent leaderboard for Google Play, we spotted 19 publishers. With one-fifth of the top 100 grossing publishers who publish at least one social casino game, and almost one-fifth on Google Play, publishers of social casino games are a force to be reckoned with in the app stores.

Looking past the top 100 overall publishers globally, we surveyed the top 10 publishers globally in the casino category on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Top 10 Publishers of Social Casino Games on the Apple App Store

Total global revenue split among top 10 publishers in Games-Casino categoryOn the AppIQ Apple App Store top Games-Casino grossing publishers leaderboard globally, Slotomania creator Playtika was the No. 1 publisher in a seven-day period from March 17 to March 23, accounting for 21 percent of the total revenue among the top 10 publishers (above). Seattle-headquartered Big Fish Games was in close second, with a 16 percent share of the total revenue. Zynga had the third-highest total revenue share, grabbing a 12 percent slice.

Top 10 Publishers of Social Casino Games on Google Play

Top global revenue split among top 10 publishers in Casino categoryIsraeli-based Playtika was the king of the hill on an equivalent leaderboard for Google Play, which is also a newly-formed, stand-alone Casino category, accounting for 22 percent of the total revenue among the top 10 publishers (above). The margin between the No. 1 and No. 2 publishers was more pronounced on Google Play than on the Apple App Store, with Buffalo Studios nailing down an 11 percent share of the total revenue. The rest of the publishers were all very close to each other.

Total Revenue Share Between the Apple App Store and Google Play

Top social casino publishers total global revenue split between app storesAmong the publishers of social casino games that appeared both in the top 10 for the Apple App Store and Google Play, we split the global total revenue into shares among the top publishers’ revenue on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Across the board, all seven publishers generated more revenue on the Apple App Store (above). Williams Interactive and Buffalo Studios tied for the biggest total revenue share on Google Play, at 43 percent. Surprisingly, Big Fish Games amassed 84 percent of its total revenue between the two stores on the Apple App Store.

Big Money Attracts Big Businesses

Social casino games have done so well on mobile that land-based casino operators and casino games manufactures wanted to get their slice of the cake. Both casino operators and casino games manufacturers see social casino gaming as a top of the funnel user acquisition channel for finding new players, who will monetize in physical casinos, at low marketings costs.

This had led to many acquisitions of top publishers of social casino games — many of whom are in this report — by casino operators and casino games manufactures. For starters, Playtika, the top social casino gaming publisher on both the Apple App Store and Google Play is owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), a subsidiary of the casino corporation Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

CIE had made three other social casino games-related acquisitions over the past few years as well, including the purchase of Bingo Blitz developer Buffalo Studios in 2012. Then, in 2013, CIE bought the rights to the World Series of Poker mobile app from Electronic Arts (which later turned into Playtika’s World Series of Poker). And the most recent acquisition of Pacific Interactive in February.

Slot machine make International Game Technology (IGT) bought top social casino games publisher Double Down Interactive, makers of DoubleDown Casino, in January 2012.

Casino games maker WMS Industries acquired social casino game publisher Phantom EFX, which was renamed Williams Interactive. Even WMS was acquired by and rolled into Scientific Games Corporation, a provider of casino gaming products.

PlayStudios, the publisher behind MyVegas Slots, is in partnership with MGM Resorts International. Players of the mobile game can receive comps for use at real world MGM casinos.

Most recently, GSN Games purchased Bash Gaming (formally BitRhymes), which are the developers of Bingo Bash and Slots Bash.

In short, there’s been a slew of mergers and acquisitions among social casino game makers and casino operators.

Real-Money Gambling

The social casino games from the publishers we’ve analyzed up to this point only allow users to put money into a game, and not take any winnings out. This void is where real-money gambling comes in. In the U.K., real-money gambling is legal in online games such as mobile games.

Many U.K. gambling companies have already taken advantage. U.K. companies with social casino games on mobile include bookmaker William Hill (William Hill Casino), U.K. gambling company Sky Betting and Gambling (Sky Vegas Casino), British casino company 32Red (32Red Casino), online gambling company Cashcade (Foxy Bingo), and more.

In the U.S. and in pretty much the rest of the world, real-money gambling in online games is illegal. The U.S. has made some progress toward the legalization — albeit with many limitations — of real-money gambling in online games in Deleware, Nevada and New Jersey.

Social casino games are one of the hottest sectors in mobile gaming right now. In part 2 of our three-part report on the social casino gaming landscape, we’ll take a deep dive into the biggest social casino games now.

*For the Complete Report:

Social Casino Gaming Report Part 2: The Top Social Casino Games Worldwide

Social Casino Gaming Report Part 3: Measuring the Casino Category on Mobile App Stores

Scott Reyburn