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Pay By Mobile Slots

Pay by phone at these casino and slot sites – deposit via mobile phone billing, charged to your mobile phone bill or deducted from PAYG balance.

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Pay By Phone Slots

Pay By Mobile Slots

As mobile phone slots become more and more popular, it comes as no surprise that many slot and casino sites are now offering a safe, secure and fuss free way to deposit while on the go.

  1. What is pay by phone?
  2. History of pay by phone
  3. What about Boku?
  4. How to use mobile phone billing to make a deposit
  5. Advantages of pay by phone
  6. Disadvantages of pay by phone
  7. Safety and security with pay by phone
  8. Pay by Phone and casino bonuses
  9. Which slot sites accept pay by phone?
  10. Alternatives to pay by phone
  11. The future of pay by phone

What is pay by phone?

Pay by phone aka carrier billing refers to any of several payment methods where the funding comes from the user’s PAYG balance or is added to their next mobile phone bill. The phone connection is used to authenticate the transaction which means there is no need for any password or login and the user also has to be physically in possession of the phone for the payment to be made.

Pay by phone as it applies to online slot and casino sites does NOT mean payment systems such as Google Pay where in-app purchases – and purchases of material goods made via NFC (contactless) technology can be charged to a bank card, as these do not apply the charge to the user’s phone bill.

History of pay by phone

Pay by phone started back in the mists of time. In 1998 the Finnish mobile operator Radiolinja launched a service called Harmonium whereby users could create monophonic ring tones and send them via SMS to a mobile handset.  This caught on in a big way and soon phone users all over the world were buying novelty ringtones by text.  The cost of sending the text to a premium rate number went partly to the ringtone provider and partly to the mobile phone operator, and so pay by phone was born. This was long before the advent of the iPhone and true mobile internet, so there was no option to use any other kind of payment method from a phone (apart from making a voice call and giving a credit card number).

Novelty ringtones went on to become a multi billion pound market, evolving from the tinny monophonic tones of the 90s to high quality (truetone) audio recordings and became so popular that from 2005 until 2014 there was an official Billboard Ringtones chart.

The early technology of the ringtones industry survives in modern pay by phone transactions systems as many of the mobile billing payment systems still involve a text message as part of the authentication process and even with the ones that don’t, a receipt is usually sent by text.  In other ways, things have definitely moved on; when you buy a ringtone, the service that is being billed to the phone bill is delivered to the phone itself and the same goes for the in-app content that is perhaps the more common purchase these days, but this is not true of all pay by phone services – for instance, voting on the X Factor involves calling the premium rate number that’s been allocated to your contestant of choice.  When you use a pay by phone method to make a deposit at a casino, the deposit is available to play with regardless of which device you access the casino from and with some such methods (such as Boku) it is not even necessary ever to visit the casino site from the phone.

These days the huge UK market in phone paid services is regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority – including services as disparate as directory enquiries, adult chat services, lifestyle subscriptions, in-app purchases, voting hotlines and charity donations as well as deposits at online casinos and betting sites.  Some of the annoying restrictions you may come across when trying to pay by phone are actually the work of the PSA or of the UK goverment and not the fault of the gambling operator at all.

One such historic annoyance was the deposit limit of £30 per user per day which frequently left players unable to make a large enough deposit to take full advantage of a casino’s welcome offer.  This daily limit was eventually removed on the grounds that players were sufficiently protected by the single transaction limit of £40 and monthly transaction limit of £240 that was written into UK law (Payment Services Regulations) in 2018.  HOWEVER it is important to understand that the £240 is for ALL phone paid services charged to one phone in a month so if you pay for other stuff using mobile billing as well it could still be a major obstacle.

What about Boku?

Boku is a mobile phone billing payment method whose roots go back to the UK in 2003, when it was a small operation called Vidicom.  Since then this award winning business has had some massive injections of cash from investors and now they are a global company working with over 300 carriers.

Boku’s infrastructure spans several continents and in fact they are the largest and by far the best known independent carrier billing company in the world.  They long ago carved out a niche in the digital marketplace, establishing Boku as a payment method in places such as the Google Play Store and Spotify.  In these cases a Boku payment is being used to pay for a digital product that is downloaded to the phone that pays the bill – an obvious use of the technology.

More recently, Boku have started to move into areas where the product that is being paid for is NOT necessarily anything to do with the phone that pays the bill.  For example, in June 2016 they secured partnerships with the UK carriers O2, Vodafone, EE and 3 to enable carrier billing to be used for the purchase of food and beverages at a number of high profile venues including Lord’s Cricket Ground and the O2.  Online gambling sites fall into this category because although the player CAN play the games or place bets on their phone, they do not HAVE TO use their phone to do so, but can access their account from a variety of devices.  Indeed, it is perfectly possible to use Boku to deposit but only ever play on a desktop device.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of online casinos that once accepted Boku have either stopped doing so (Grace Media) or no longer operate in the UK (Genesis Global).  If you want to pay by phone at a UK slot site, you’ll almost certainly have to do so using a different carrier billing provider.

How to use mobile phone billing to make a deposit

Because different operators use different carrier billing providers, the process of making a deposit is not quite the same from casino to casino.  In all cases you’ll first select the amount you wish to deposit and the mobile phone billing deposit method on the cashier page.

In most cases you’ll then have to enter your phone number (you may not need to if you have the cashier page open on your phone and are connected via your phone’s data signal rather than over wifi).

The deposit will then be confirmed in one of the following ways:

  • A confirmation screen on your phone
  • A text sent to your phone which you reply to with a word or code to authorise the transaction (this is a direct descendant of the old method for buying novelty ringtones by sending a text to a premium number)
  • A text sent to your phone with an activation code that has to be entered on the cashier page

After that, you’ll receive a further text notifying you that the transaction has gone through (or advising of any problems).

Advantages of Pay By Mobile

The main advantage of pay by phone is that it’s quick, easy, safe and secure:

  • There’s no need to remember anything apart from your own phone number
  • No other information such as card details or passwords is given to the casino or sent over the internet
  • Payment is authorised from your phone, so unless the phone itself is physically lost or stolen and cracked or cloned it is safe from fraud
  • There’s no need to have a card or even a bank account 

Disadvantages of Pay By Mobile

Pay by phone has quite a lot of disadvantages:

  • It may not actually work.  Your mobile phone network needs to be one that has partnered with the billing provider the casino uses and there have been issues in the past with resellers such as giffgaff and with casinos not accepting payments from some networks (for example, Grace Media casinos used to accept Boku payments but not from Vodafone)
  • The £40 single transaction limit
  • Most operators charge a substantial fee for deposits via any mobile phone billing methods
  • Pay by phone is for deposits only – if you are lucky enough to win a significant amount you will need to specify an alternative payment method (usually bank transfer) as well as giving the casino quite a bit more of your personal information to allow them to complete “Know Your Customer” verification
  • To withdraw winnings from a deposit made using mobile phone billing, you will also need to prove to the casino that the phone is registered to you and the bill has been paid (which is easier said than done).  This is to comply with anti money laundering legislation and enable the casino to demonstrate to the regulator that they have taken precautions against players being able to gamble on credit.

To avoid getting caught out by fees or other nasties in the small print, always check the terms and conditions before you deposit by phone – and preferably in advance, as it may not be so easy to read on a phone screen.

Safety & Security with Pay By Phone

The weakest link in the security chain is the physical security of your phone and even if someone did manage to steal your phone and break the lockscreen there’s the transaction limits to protect you, plus they wouldn’t be able to take any money out of your casino account.  So yeah, pretty secure – but it’s generally a good idea to make sure that you have a lockscreen set on your phone and it doesn’t display the contents of notifications.

Pay by Phone & Casino Bonuses

It’s common for casinos to exclude deposits made with e-wallets and prepaid vouchers from bonus offers but mobile phone billing is neither of these and is most likely safe from going on the naughty list.  The reason is that there has been some fairly widespread abuse of bonus offers associated with fraudsters depositing with e-wallets and vouchers that have been funded by third parties.  Carrier billing is tied to your phone number which is typically verified by the casino as part of the registration process and because of the transaction limits there’s not much scope for abuse by third parties.

That £40 transaction limit gives rise to another possible problem with bonuses, though – you may not be able to claim the full bonus on offer when you pay by phone due to not being allowed to make a large enough deposit.

Which slot sites accept pay by phone?

The casino and slot sites that accept payment by mobile phone billing fall into three groups:

  1. All Jumpman sites, where there’s a flat £2.50 charge to deposit using it
  2. All Progress Play sites, where there’s a 15% fee to deposit using it
  3. A few independents, some of which don’t charge for using it

Mobile phone billing is by no means as widespread a payment method as many players would like and this is probably due to general compliance issues surrounding it, as operators need to verify that a credit card hasn’t been used to fund the deposit indirectly.

Alternatives to pay by phone

E-wallet apps are an alternative method of depositing on the go without sending bank or card details over the internet and are only less secure when they don’t have two factor authentication.  With the excellent data connectivity we enjoy in the UK, e-wallet apps generally work very well.  They do, however, have a couple of disadvantages that mobile phone billing doesn’t have.  One is remembering the password (which is why some modern e-wallet apps have biometric validation) and the other is that e-wallets are sometimes excluded from bonus offers.

The future of pay by phone

Depositing using a pay by phone method can be rather haphazard at the moment as there are so many systems and whether they work or not depends on which mobile phone service provider you use as well as on the casino’s payment systems.

The Swedish fintech company Zimpler (founded in 2012) offers a better solution but at the moment this is only available to users in a few countries, not including the UK.  Zimpler is a mobile wallet that integrates phone bill, bank and card payments, offering a facility to deposit with any of these methods in less than 20 seconds.  To access Zimpler, a customer enters their phone number then logs in with the authentication code that is sent to the phone.  This is a vast improvement over any current system because it effectively combines a pay by phone system with a Paypal type e-wallet, all with text authentication.  It also includes features such as spending limits, nudging and behavioural science methods to help users manage their money effectively.

If Zimpler comes to the UK (one major obstacle to this could be regulation as presumably part of its operation would fall under the Financial Conduct Authority and part under the Phone-paid Services Authority) we expect it to dominate the market in pay by phone casino and slot sites very quickly – especially as so many sites already accept it in countries where it is live.

On the other hand, we wouldn’t be surpised if charging deposits to your mobile phone bill was eventually banned by the Gambling Commission, on the grounds that it’s technically borrowing money from the carrier.  In that case, the go-to method for depositing from a mobile phone could very well end up being Apple Pay or G Pay (depending on whether your phone is Apple or Android), probably with facial or fingerprint recognition.

Sue Dawson
Head of Content

Sue Dawson has been writing about (and playing) online bingo and slots since 2013, putting her unique spin on everything.  She has written pieces for iGaming industry news sites, appeared on panels at industry events and on podcasts, helped to judge industry awards and is a member of industry think tank Ampersand Plus.


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