Smartphones, tablet computers and social networks have forever changed the face of the gaming market. Originally, social gaming was thought to be a passing fad, but it seems that it is here to stay. The market has become so popular and profitable that even online casino developers have decided to try their hand at creating social games that will appeal to a new audience of gamers.
Zynga was one of the first developers to make the connection between social gaming and casino gambling. One of its first releases was Zynga Poker, an online poker application that DominoQQ operated like any other poker room – with the addition of social gaming features. Players were able to share their progress with friends and level up to trigger unique features. The success of Zynga Poker started the social gambling trend.
Soon, Zynga decided to launch other social casino applications, and it wasn’t long before Zynga Slots was available on the Facebook App market. This application offers player free-play slots games, with plenty of ‘unlockable’ features and shareable content. It led to the development of Zynga Elite Slots, which brings a new meaning to the term ‘social gaming’ by allowing players to work together to complete levels and win slots jackpots.
For quite some time, Zynga had a monopoly on the social casino market, but it wasn’t long before other developers started to get involved. Double Down Interactive launched the wildly popular Double Down Casino application, which was quickly snatched up by online gambling developer IGT (International Game Technology). IGT was one of the first real-money gambling developers to try its hand in the social gaming world, and it has turned out to be a successful venture thus far. Double Down’s games are still free slots but the application provides a great deal of ad revenue for IGT.
888 Holdings is one of the latest real-money gambling operators to make its way into the social gambling world. The company’s new social casino application is called MAGIC888, and it offers players the chance to play online slots and other casino games using the convenient Facebook Games platform. It operates on the same basis as social casino applications like Zynga Elite Slots and Double Down Casino, allowing players to share their progress with friends and level up to unlock bonus content. The only difference is that players can wager actual cash and win genuine jackpot prizes.
The US Department of Justice has ruled that all forms of online gambling are not illegal according to the Wire Act of 1961. The new decision states that the Wire Act only focuses on sports betting and not casino or poker offerings. This new position brings the probability of individual states or a group of states banding together to allow online gambling in their states. It also opens up possibilities in the Industry that have not been available in a long time.
First, the states have the possibility to bring in a lot of tax revenue and some job creation based on online gambling. States that have gambling or Indian Gaming in there state should clearly be interested in pursuing intrastate online gambling. They have a lot to gain and the possibility to balance their budgets. The question is how they will go about it.
Will they treat it like a state run lottery. Many states already have this is place. Some of the aspects of the lottery can apply to online gambling, but not much. The states would have to obtain the software, secure it, promote it and run it. They also have to regulate the payout and number generators. Not to mention, stop cheaters and provide funding for both deposits and withdrawals. The point to this is that states will be hard pressed to setup and run an operation like this. So many states would have to look at other options.
One of the options is Indian Gaming. They have many gambling establishments and probably are better suited to move in the online direction. They do have many of the same hurdles as the states and more challenges in the funding departments. Quite frankly online gambling could very much diminish their gambling profits from their brick and mortar casinos. Something they have a monopoly on for the most part. For this reason it is possible they may fight online gambling rather than participate in it.
The next logical option is the current gambling establishments. In Nevada, many have already applied for licenses for online gambling. They seem to moving in the direction of providing online gaming to Nevada. Just how far are they is uncertain, but they have the resources, the will, and motivation to make it work. They too are in jeopardy of losing revenues to online gambling. They are far more likely to participate than to fight it. They have proven they want to participate and are moving in the direction already.
The last option is current online gambling establishments. They already have the software, are currently operating, and have the funding options already in place. This positions them in the driver’s seat and gives them a potential inside track. Like the others mentioned above, they have some issues to overcome. First they are not located in the US at all. This poses a lot of problems since this is a states only initiative and they do not want to violate the Wire Act in any way. So these companies would have to set up shop in the state and operate a version of their software just for the state. Something they could pretty easily do.