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For the most part, mobile gaming enthusiasts in the U.S. likely think of the slot and casino genres as somewhat tired, if not lazy. With real-money casino gaming not as widely legal in the U.S. as in the UK and some other parts of the western world, we tend to mostly see cheap simulations and gaudy imitations in the app markets. There’s little appeal in the average mobile game in this genre.

That said, a combination of developments is making the genre newly relevant in a way that mobile gamers might want to pay attention to. Specifically, the U.S. is inching toward emulating the UK and making online casino gaming more widely available. New Jersey leads the way in this space, and while its thriving online sports betting industry commands most of the attention, casino gaming has expanded as well. In fact, a late-2019 analysis cited 66% growth among some digital casino games in the New Jersey market. What’s apparently happened is that all of the sports betting attention has ultimately helped to introduce more people to online casinos’ gaming offerings as well. And, with over a dozen more states now in the process of legalizing sports betting on the internet, it’s reasonable to at least hope that the same states will explore allowing online casino gaming as well.

Even as the stage is being set in the U.S. for more legalized casino gaming, the UK is essentially improving the entire genre, in everything from how people pay for real-money games, to what the game selections actually look like. The point about payment methods may actually be particularly significant if and when UK games migrate to the U.S. because for most Americans the idea of depositing real money to spin digital slot reels with is going to be foreign – and possibly somewhat unsettling. Thus, it’s important to point out that UK sites have built-in various alternatives that are in some cases both more secure and less intimidating. Perhaps most notable is the option to pay on one’s phone bill: Some of the UK’s gaming platforms function as pay by phone online casinos, allowing people to make deposits for gaming such that costs go directly on their mobile phone bills. In a way, this sort of method may actually feel more familiar to U.S. mobile gamers who are so used to make purchases through their phones with minimal complication, and without involving their bank accounts directly.

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This is all to say that as the U.S. crawls toward legalizing mobile casino gaming, the UK is effectively optimizing the industry. And this process extends beyond payment methods to include the games themselves also. As was noted above, U.S. gamers are accustomed to tired and lazy casino apps. Among the Android-compatible casino games from the UK, however, there are several very impressive animated slots that look and feel like more modern games. The following are five you may want to keep an eye on if and when casino gaming expands (and which you can also check out, in some cases, with free-play demos, even if you aren’t able to play legally with real money yet).

1. Gonzo’s Quest

Arguably the most famous game featured at the UK’s online casinos, Gonzo’s Quest gets a lot of credit for going above and beyond its own genre. While still a slot arcade at heart, the game is built on the concept of an explorer wandering ancient Peru in search of treasure. The animation is endearing and the theme enriches the very idea of slot play. To put a thing in sharper relief though, this game is also so beautiful and immersive that it can now be played in VR!

2. Drive

Drive calls to mind some of the ordinary racing games that are so popular one Android device already. We’ve made note of Need For Speed games here before, and frankly the look of this slot arcade isn’t too far off from established franchises like that. It is still a slot reel, but one that does a nice job of presenting a high-stakes street-race setting.

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3. River Of Riches

You’ll find a lot of Egyptian-themed games in the slot genre, on UK sites and elsewhere, but none quite as beautiful as this one. The idea of the game is essentially a fantasy, as you’re taken on an exploration of a river of gold that runs beneath the Egyptian pyramids. But it makes for an incredible sense of adventure for a game that maintains the basic mechanics of a slot reel. Frankly, this one ought to be mentioned in the same breath as Gonzo’s Quest when it comes to the most immersive mobile slots.

4. Sherlock Holmes: The Hunt For Blackwood

This is a simpler game in terms of both graphics and execution, but we’re including it to point to the fact that this genre is actually packed with material relating to popular fictional franchises. Sherlock Holmes remains very busy property today: Multiple shows based on the iconic character are available to stream, novels are still released dealing with Holmes and other characters, and a third Sherlock Holmes film is in the works starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. It can be a lot of fun to have a game like this to play along with something that popular, and The Hunt For Blackwood gets the job done.

5. Wicked Circus

Typically we wouldn’t highlight a slot game that’s all about the bells and whistles. But this one does all of those extra visual and audio things so well that it deserves a mention. Wicked Circus is essentially a sinister carnival of a game, with Joker-inspired characters and various creepy funhouse elements populating its reels, background, and special features. There’s not a lot to it in terms of narrative or theme, but it will still sweep you up into its own quirky fantasy.

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