Category Archives: Social Media

Zynga Abandons Plans for US Online Poker and Facebook Expands International Market Presence

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of Zynga and Facebook to enter the online gambling market.  The infrastructure exists because they offer poker games and other gambling games that operate under a coin system.  No real money has been paid out in the United States, but the two have worked in the UK to make the switch to real money gambling.  It now appears that the gaming giant has decided not to pursue online poker, at least in the United States.  An online source explains:

Zynga Inc, the struggling San Francisco based social gaming group, announced that it was abandoning its plans to enter the real money US online poker and gambling markets.  The company said in its second quarter report that: ”While the company continues to evaluate its real-money gaming products in the United Kingdom test, Zynga is making the focused choice not to pursue a license for real money gambling in the United States.”

In February this year, the former Chief Executive Officer of Zynga, Mark Pincus announced that the group planned to bring real money gambling to the American market.  This news placated a jittery investor public who had put their money behind Zynga knowing that it would eventually enter the real money US online poker market.  This fact was also shown through Zynga’s application for a license to operate online poker from the Nevada gambling authorities.

However, last week’s clear announcement that Zynga is abandoning these plans, saw the group’s shares plunge by up to 20%, with investors leaving in droves.

Meanwhile, Facebook is finding success with real money gambling and has decided to expand its operation in Europe.  An online source explains:

Facebook, the social networking giant, will offer real money social gaming in Italy and Spain, reports the publication Telecom Paper and the Italian news agency Ansa last week. Sean Ryan, head of partnerships of Facebook, confirmed the reported plans during the recent World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, following a successful trial initiative in the UK in partnership with online gambling group Bwin.Party. He confirmed that Facebook is also undergoing a sports betting trial in partnership with the UK’s third largest bookmaker, Paddy Power.

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Zynga to Expand Real Gambling Options in the UK along side Facebook: Sights set on the US

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing partnership of Facebook and Zynga to introduce real money gambling into the social media arena.   Facebook has already started allowing real money gambling and will soon introduce sports betting.  The Daily Mail reports:

Facebook will offer real money betting on horse racing and football matches in a major expansion of its gambling operations. The social networking site was criticised last year for launching a range of Las Vegas-style casino games with the promise of jackpots worth tens of thousands of pounds.

It already offers virtual slot machines for children as young as 13 – with real money games advertised as soon as users hit their 18th birthday.

Now it will begin offering sports betting under a lucrative deal with online bookmaker Paddy Power, which was announced last night. The game, called Paddy Power In-Play!, will be rolled out in the coming days. It will only be available in the UK, where gaming laws are more relaxed than in the US.

 Zanga is also a part of Facebook’s gambling strategy, but Facebook appears to be far more important to Zynga’s success. As explained by The Week, Zanga has started offering real money gambling games and their operation will soon be available on Facebook:

At a World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, Facebook’s Sean Ryan is showcasing two new Zynga games, ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino, according to VentureBeat‘s Dean Takahashi. Zynga “says that social gaming remains its heart and soul,” Takahashi says, “but the gambling games are a logical extension for fans who want to bet real money and win it in social games.”

The first step is conquering Britain, where online gambling is legal and regulated. In April, Zynga released online and downloadable versions of its two real-money games in the U.K., in partnership with established British poker company Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment. Facebook and mobile versions are coming soon.

The Facebook component is key to Zynga’s strategy. Zynga and its investors believe, with some justification, that “the real-money Facebook games could be a game changer, luring in the general U.K. population that has known Zynga for years as a social gaming pioneer,” says Jennifer Booton at Fox Business

 So how will this affect the American Market?  Right now Britain is viewed as a test market to work out any issues and with the current US legislation landscape shifting to States allowing online gambling, Facebook and Zynga could be worth billions in the future.  The Week continues:

Britain is “the ideal test-case for Zynga, with it’s concentration of seasoned online gamblers contributing to a £2.3 billion ($3.4 billion) industry for the country,” says Lauren Hockenson at GigaOm. But the company’s “sights are no doubt set on the United States, which, despite its currently restrictive gambling laws, could be worth $9.3 billion by 2020.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is pushing for legislation to drop all federal regulation of online gambling, leaving it up to individual states to decide what to allow. Nevada and New Jersey — home to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, respectively — have recently legalized the practice. (Nevadans can already play online real-money poker against other Nevadans, and New Jersey and Delaware are setting up their online gambling systems.)

It won’t be a slam dunk getting a chunk of the Jersey or Nevada markets — Zynga needs to partner with a casino in Atlantic City, and only two of the 10 are still up for grabs, says VentureBeat‘s Jeffrey Grubb. But as signs point toward more online gambling in the U.S., Zynga has put itself in a prime position to profit. It has an established brand plus loads of customer data to work with, and Facebook is a great platform for minting new online gamblers.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


UPDATE: Florida Senate Passes Ban on Internet Cafés, Gov Signs into Law

Casino Watch Focus reported that in the wake of the major investigations of Florida’s internet cafés, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill to ban the gambling parlors.  Further investigations revealed that these strip mall casinos were so under regulated, that no background checks were required and those with criminal pasts were running those facilities.  As expected, the Senate has joined the House to ban internet cafés.  The Miami Herald reports:

After a rigorous debate, the Florida Senate sent to the governor on Thursday a fast-tracked bill designed to clarify that slot-like gambling machines operated in Internet cafes, South Florida’s adult arcades and Miami’s maquintas are outlawed in Florida.

The measure is a reaction to a federal and state investigation into Allied Veterans of Florida that has led to 57 arrests for illegal gambling, money laundering and racketeering. Police allege that that the pseudo veterans group made $300 million in profits by operating the illegal machines, but allegedly donated only 2 percent of its proceeds to charity. Legislators responded by concluding that the vague state law that allowed the gaming centers to operate needed to be clarified to give law enforcement more tools to shut down the illegal machines that have proliferated in strip malls throughout the state.

The Senate voted 36-4 for HB 155, which was approved two weeks ago 108-7 by the Florida House.

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law, making it effective immediately.  The Herald provided comments given by Gov. Scott:

“I think the House and Senate did the right thing to crackdown on illegal gaming, especially in light of the Allied Veterans multi-state criminal conspiracy,’’ Scott told reporters on Wednesday.

The law becomes effective immediately, giving law enforcement new definitions on illegal gambling machines. It also imposes new restrictions on arcade games and bans all electronic casino look-alikes, including maquinitas in Miami and Hialeah.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who praised Scott and state lawmakers for passage of the bill, wasted little time in directing county law enforcement authorities to take action.

“I have already directed Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson to begin enforcing the law,” said Gimenez in a statement. “There is no longer any ambiguity about the fact that these machines and operations are illegal, and the newly-signed law will help deter the continued growth of illegal activities in Miami-Dade County and throughout the State of Florida.”

Because of the broad stroke used in the legislation to end these types of machines, there are groups that believe their type of gambling machines should have been allowed to operate.  Prosecutors have long held that these machine only existed because of various loopholes and now those loopholes are closed:

Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger, who anchored the federal and state investigation called “Operation Reveal the Deal,” told the Herald/Times that the governor’s actions validated his efforts.

For years, Eslinger was among a handful of sheriffs that urged lawmakers to tighten the law to make it easier for law enforcement to crackdown on the illegal games only to have their proposals languish and Internet Cafes proliferate. In the meantime, the industry donated millions to legislative campaigns, estimated at more than $2 million in the 2012 election cycle alone.

“It wasn’t a loophole in the law,’’ Eslinger said Tuesday. “The law was complex, difficult and expensive to investigate — and this will certainly will enhance law enforcement efforts.’’

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


UPDATE: Suspects Accused in Florida Youth Football Gambling Ring

Casino Watch Focus reported that a terrible youth football gambling ring had been exposed by ESPN.  The community was shocked to learn the magnitude and severity of such gambling in the community. They learned that kids were being bribed or paid to play for certain teams, families were being taken advantage of and the game was being tainted by the lowest of criminals. Local law enforcement immediately went on the offensive and began in-depth investigations in hopes of ending this travesty.  Eighteen months later and the Orlando Sentinel is reporting  on the details of investigation:

Investigators said bets were taken at a Lauderhill barber shop, and two coaches are accused of betting on point spreads before kids’ games. The nine arrestees’ common bond was their roles as youth football coaches and assistants.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office conducted “Operation Dirty Play” with Fort Lauderdale and Lauderhill police, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service. Fort Lauderdale police began surveillance in 2011 to end the betting and drinking, drug use and fighting that a police spokesman said was happening at pee wee games at the time.

According to one of the arrest warrants, amounts wagered in advance of the little league football Super Bowl meant more than $100,000 to the winner, and coaches would actively place bets against an opposing team.

The Florida Youth Football League is has nearly 4,000 youth players from 16 cities.  Not all of the coaches are involved in nefarious gambling acts with their players, but the league maintains a zero tolerance policy.  The Sentinel continues:

South Florida Youth Football’s president, Mike Spivey, did not return calls or email seeking comment. The league’s website says coaches who gamble, recruit kids or pay them to play or hit other players will be banned for life.

The league is one of a half-dozen in South Florida that organize thousands of kids from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties into football teams.

“It’s disappointing anytime we have role models that get arrested,” said Ross Sinel, president of American Youth Football League. “But there are a lot of good coaches who give back to their communities and teach kids discipline, structure, how to win and lose, and how to achieve.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Video Game Company First to Enter US Online Gambling Market

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the ongoing saga of expanded online gambling in the US.  A ruling by the Obama Administration has opened the door for some states to engage in online gambling.  Legal questions still loom as to how far online gambling’s jurisdiction lies, and Congress is still debating proposals to allow full scale federal online gambling.  In preparation, several social media and gaming groups, such as Facebook and Zanga have looked into expanding their business to real money gambling. Most recently, Apple decided to allow real money gambling on their iPhones and iPads, albeit in the UK, not in the US.  Now, an online source is reporting that a Nevada-based video game company seeks to become the first to enter the federal online market:

Video game developer 3G Studios filed with the Nevada Gaming Control Board for multiple Online Service Provider’s licenses, making them the first video game company to move into the U.S. online gambling market. With this move, 3G Studios will be the first video game company to be approved for real-money gambling in the U.S.

3G Studios plans to launch one of the nation’s first licensed, for-money U.S.-based poker sites. The site will initially be restricted to Nevada residents, and geo-location software will ensure that gamblers are located in Nevada at the time of the wager. The site will also feature other casino-style games that can be played for virtual currency, and as U.S. gambling restrictions loosen, may be also played for real money in the future.

An August decision by a Federal Judge ruled that poker was a game of skill opened the door for online poker sites to surface in states that legalized the practice. Nevada joined Delaware in legalizing online gambling, and at least 10 other states are expected to follow suit next year.

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Apple to allow real money online gambling on their iPhones and iPads

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the expansion of gambling worries through online social media. The first big avenue has been to take advantage of the widespread popularity of the social network giant Facebook. Social gaming company Zynga was one of the first companies to start approaching social media sources to expand their Poker games into real money online gambling.  Zynaga not only offers their games on Facebook, but they also use smartphones like the iPhone and Android phones to deliver their games.  Other companies offer casino games as well, and its no surprise that one of those companies has now partnered with Apple to offer real money gambling through their smartphone apps.  An online source explains:

It is not only gaming companies and local governments that are preparing for a change in US online gambling law. in a move that signals change is coming to the US, Apple has announced that they will allow real money gambling on the ever-popular IPhone. Big Fish Gaming will become the first gaming company to offer the real money gambling.

Big Fish Games Inc., based out of Seattle, Washington, is developing the technology for Big Fish Casino to come to the IPhone. Big Fish has a partner, Betable Ltd., based in London, that will allow the UK mobile gaming. Technology companies have been building towards mobile gaming for several years, and the time has come to put their plans into place.

Apple is attempting to shield themselves from the windfall of money that would be sure to flood in over those addicted to online gambling.  The online source explains:

Apple may be the company that is permitting online gambling, but they also are staying away from collecting their share of gambling winnings. With some apps, Apple takes a cut of sales. That is not going to be the case originally with the mobile gaming applications.

“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.”

The projections for this type of expanded gambling are still early, but the same online source referenced Juniper Research and they are projecting online gamblers to wager around $100 billion by the year 2017.

 For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION