Friday March 15,2013 : SOCIAL GAMBLING SITE EYES A MORE LIBERAL U.S. MARKET
As individual states move toward legalization, Fanhood could be a winner
The online gambling liberalisation trend currently sweeping a number of US states has given hope to social gaming operators like Fanhood, which allows social punters to buy tokens and make sports wagers with their friends…but not withdraw cash.
"Experience sports betting, play sports trivia and challenge other fans' teams in the most exhilarating sports app on Facebook!" urges the landing page of the dotcom site as the traditionally frenetic March Madness betting season triggers in the United States.
CEO Brandon Ramsey, a former engineer at Yahoo and Zynga, says Fanhood is aimed at the millions of Americans who make casual sports bets with friends for fun and bragging rights. The enterprise has already attracted 50,000 active users on Facebook who can use virtual currency tokens to bet on everything from the Superbowl to NHL hockey games.
“It’s the same kind of psychology as taking $5 from a friend,” said Ramsey this week, claiming that Fanhood’s social networking facilities and on-going tallies of bet outcomes keep users coming back.
Fanhood is legal under current US laws because players can’t cash out. If those laws were to be changed at state level, that situation could be improved from a player perspective, although a sports betting option is particularly tricky due to the existence since 1992 of the federal government's Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which restricts sports betting to just four US states.
PASPA has twice been unsuccessfully challenged by the states of Delaware and, more recently, New Jersey which wanted to expand into sports betting. The latter state has appealed a negative judgement against it earlier this year by federal judge Michael Shipp
In the meantime, it looks as if Fanhood will have to be content with present income, unless a takeover materialises from one of the major gambling groups.
There has been a trend toward social gambling convergence during the last two years, illustrated through acquisitions in the sector by firms like IGT, Caesars Entertainment, Aristocrat and Bally Technologies, and a slew of partnership and cooperation deals by a range of companies that have social gaming expertise, and those that want to harness it..