Who’s talking about Facebook? The answer: Everyone


Everyone is talking about how gambling and Facebook are set to come together in a big way. The smart players in this game have already started making their move into this space. We’ve seen companies such as IGT’s purchase of Double Down Interactive and Caesar’s purchase of Playtika. This has left those companies, that didn’t recognise the opportunity of first-mover advantage, struggling to catch up.

Rumours started earlier this year about Facebook preparing to roll out gambling in the UK and it seems as though it is only a matter of time before social gambling becomes a fast reality.

Taking a look at what some of the big players have to say about social gaming it seems lots of boardroom discussion will be focussing on how they can take advantage of this dynamic and quickly saturating market before its too late.

Malcolm Graham, Chief Exec of PKR believes “We have all missed the opportunity to build tournament-style gambling games (for no real-money betting) on Facebook. But in the next 12-18 months, out gambling industry will move onto Facebook”

This same feeling was echoed by Simon Burridge, Chief Exec of Virgin Games who whilst speaking on a panel said “Social gaming is obviously the coming thing and in some sense it has already arrived, Social gaming meets real gambling is the high ground of the future.”

Jim Ryan, co-chief exec of Bwin.party Digital Entertainment, said of the online gambling companies, “As an industry we have missed the ball. Bingo is easy. That is the one and only social game that our industry has gotten right”. He noted that social game companies such as Zynga have amassed huge audiences in the meantime.

In light of some of these comments, it’s easy to see why the massive companies with huge marketing and budgets are coming into play now. The benefit of this for smaller companies is that large companies are slow-moving and they have little knowledge of modern social game mechanics, though the similarities between social games and casino games could shorten the learning curve. The bad news is that the average gambling player is worth about $300 per month, so these guys are packing big guns when it comes to user acquisition and retention.

Those who have focussed on operating exclusively in the US need to start looking further afield now that The Wire Act has been modified. Jim Ryan expects that online gambling will be largely legal in the US by 2014, so smaller companies need to take advantage of the comparative speed with which they can adapt and start looking at the avenues that this could take.

1.       Mobile

Smart gambling companies are already making big moves into the space and it’s interesting that most smaller social game companies have already turned their attention away from Facebook.

2.       Younger Audiences

Social game companies could target their games for a younger audience, making more kid-orientated games or go into a specific younger vertical like educational games. However children under 18 only make up a 5% of money spent on social games, which is rather limiting.

3.       Offer real-money gambling

Social game companies could start to compete with gambling companies on their own turf, they already have the advantage of understanding player behaviour and what drives them to purchase or play better than anyone. It is important to now leverage this knowledge to onboard them into lucrative real-money gambling.

4.       More innovative campaigns

Everyone has seen traditional gambling marketing campaigns, but when you are looking at bringing in the element of social a new focus is required. Old marketing brains within organisations need to think more creatively about how they can capture and audience that is not open to traditional gambling promotions. An example of this is SchoolFeed, an app that is experiencing huge growth at the moment and takes the traditional concept of your school or college network to the next level. What makes this case relevant is the inclusion of a Bingo game within the app, this is a completely free model at the moment but it highlights the opportunity to start to bring casual gaming to a wider audience. Only by making the market bigger will smaller players be able to compete with Zynga and real-money gambling giants.



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