Friday August 17, 2012 : SEATTLE COMPANY TO LAUNCH ONLINE CASINO APP IN BRITAIN
Big Fish Games leverages a more liberal approach to gambling in Big Fish Casino move into the UK
Washington State, home of the Seattle-based developer Big Fish Gaming, has arguably the toughest laws against online gambling in the United States, categorising online punters as Class C felony offenders with punitive measures equivalent to child molestation; that's probably why the company has sought the more liberal markets of the United Kingdom for its Big Fish Casino app launching soon.
The Bloomberg business news agency reports that the company is introducing the iOS version of its real-money Big Fish Casino app to Britain within the next few weeks, distributing the product via the App Store.
Financial transactions will be processed through Betable, a London-based partner in the enterprise.
Game developers are building digital versions of Las Vegas casinos as users of smartphones and tablets are expected to wager $100 billion annually on the devices by 2017, up from about $20 billion last year, estimates independent analyst Juniper Research.
“This is the biggest opportunity that game developers have had since the advent of the Internet,” Christopher Griffin, chief executive officer of Betable, said in an interview with the business news publication, which points out that internet social gaming giant Zynga has also announced plans to launch real money gambling – probably in Europe – in the first half of 2013.
Griffin revealed that his company is working with a number of other companies in the sector.
"Restrictions on Internet gambling in the U.S. may also ease, as several states, including California, Nevada and New Jersey, are considering legalization to legalize the practice," Bloombergs reports.
Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Apple, told Bloombergs that his company was not taking a cut of gambling sales. He said games are permitted in the App Store as long as they comply with local laws.
“Apple wants to keep arms’ length from this,” said Paul Thelen, CEO of Big Fish. “They don’t want to be the middleman in a gambling operation.”
Big Fish, founded in 2002, had revenue of more than $180 million last year, Thelen said. He expanded in online gambling with the March acquistion of Self Aware Games, a startup based in Oakland, California.
Many players already pay real money for virtual currency in Big Fish games to bet on poker, slots and other games of chance, though they cannot cash out their winnings. These users are likely to flock to real-money wagers, Thelen said.
“It’s a very lucrative opportunity,” Thelen said of real- money gambling in mobile games.