It was just a week ago when I was telling all of you out there about the newest Facebook endeavor, upping its gaming level to code Vegas with its first ever gambling game. And now games developer Big Fish Games has just launches a new iPhone app that uses real-money gambling.
This makes for the first time that a real-money gambling mobile game will be available in the App Store.
The gambling infrastructure for Big Fish Casino comes from Betable, a social betting company that has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from investors such as Greylock, CrunchFund, Yuri Milner’s Start Fund, Founders Fund, True Ventures, and several others.
Up to this point, Betable has been in private alpha, and this partnership looks like its coming out party -- Mazel!
Big Fish Casino, which is a retooling of Card Ace that first was launched by a company called Self Aware Studios until it was bought by Big Fish in March, has more than one million active players.
But US gamblers still have to book their trips to Vegas and Atlantic City because this mobile gambling app is still only available in the UK -- they seem to be getting everything lately.
The non-gambling version of Casino will be available on Google Play,Amazon’s Appstore, the App Store and Facebook shortly.
All gaming companies are clamoring to really get in on the real-money gambling sector but are all cutting through red tape, infrastructure issues and federal, state and online regulations.
“We have a strong conviction that mobile apps that combine social and real-money gambling are a powerful way to engage more users and increase overall monetization,” said Paul Thelen, Founder and CEO of Big Fish, in a statement.
Between the Big Fish Casino app debut and Bingo Friendzy on Facebook, these are HUGE first steps to help translate the growing gaming market into some real big money.
Facebook's biggest gaming (and digital goods) partner, Zynga, also has plans to unveil some real money gaming opportunities next year.
Facebook is using age-gating technology to keep anyone under 18 away from the app and make it inaccessible.
While the standard cut of digital goods that Facebook reaps is 30%, it is unclear if Gamesys and Bingo Friendzy have inked any different type of deal since this is a gambling service (where people can win or lose money). I would bet that Facebook has created a slightly different contract for real money services that it could use to encourage more companies to offer this service.
Since gambling is seen as more of a vice and danger than buying virtual goods, Gamesys has set up tools to help people set spending limits before they start playing and its practices are regulated by the government.
Zynga, Facebook and other companies are chomping at the bit for the US government to reevaluate the gambling laws in the States so that online companies can offer similar services here, but currently, the different states' laws create a lot of challenges for this opportunity.
Zynga Poker, alone, attract more than 7 million people every day and over 30 million each month. Many of these players would love to get a return on their recreational gambling in the gaming world if they could -- and Zynga would love to prove to investors that it can vary its revenue model from the Facebook virtual good-based focus it has had for a handful of years.
If Zynga can successfully offer social gaming, in some fashion, it could resuscitate the falling shares that have dipped below $3 recently, after a challenging IPO in December.
Over the Christmas break, the Obama administration’s Justice Department also opened another door that got gaming companies toasting their eggnog -- it ruled in December that online gambling was legal, as long as it was not sports-related, which was specifically prohibited in prior law.
This ruling reversed a long interpretation that federal gambling law extended to Internet gambling.
Social gaming has proven itself to be a strong revenue driver for companies that can bring in those freemium players.
Digi-Capital found that online and mobile games are poised to grow into an $82 billion market with a revenue share of 50% as the historically popular console gaming flattens out.
Social and mobile gaming has done something that few thought was possible, turned some of the least likely demographics into serious and paying gamers -- the over 40 crowd, and this is proving to be a great growth market for gaming companies and an enticing market for advertisers that want to reach that market.
Last year, gaming investment and M&A more than doubled just as private placements grew by 96% to $2 billion.
The demand will be even greater in gaming if they can fold gambling in there too, even if its not yet in the US.