Video Game Firms are Betting on Gambling

27 July 2012 – By Linda Jefferson

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The online gambling industry has become a real attraction for video game developers all over the world. 3G Studios, a video game developer in Reno, has hired almost 80 contactors in India and China dedicated solely to making gambling games and expects to have 200 by the end of the year. The company will invest $5 million in their gambling business over the next few years. In the last year, the US market has suffered a few changes regarding the online casino industry. Nevada is accepting applications for online gambling licenses and starting next year, Delaware will become the first state to approve online casino gambling for state residents. California and New Jersey are also considering loosening the rules for wagering on the Web. 3G Studios’s CEO believes that gambling will suffer fundamental changes in the next period and online gambling will draw bettors beyond the casino crowd.

Betable is another young company based in London that announced plans to help game developers add real-money betting, in jurisdictions where online wagering is legal. But casino consultants have a different opinion. They believe game studios are wasting their efforts and money because, even if online gambling is made legal, states must provide licenses for Internet gambling, and the process will be lengthy and complicated. Casino giants such as MGM Resorts and Bally are companies that already have licenses and that means they have a huge advantage compared to smaller companies, like 3G Studios and other upstarts.

Even if online gambling isn’t legalized, giant companies could still benefit from this sector. Chicago slot machine maker WMS Industries announced the creation of a new division, Williams Interactive, specialized on products developed for the internet. The new division recently released its second Facebook offering, called Jackpot Party Casino, which builds on popular brands available in brick and mortar facilities. Williams Interactive’s CEO Orrin Edidin thinks having slots both online and in the real world could attract new customers for casinos. The company’s representatives believe the community of players built on the Web, and especially on the social networks, can be converted from free-to-play to pay-for-play.

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