Tue, Mar 26, 7:34am by Ed Scimia
Talk about online gambling as a business, and your mind immediately goes to real money play. But despite the huge amount of money spent every year in Australia and worldwide on sports betting, online casinos, and online poker (among other games), there’s another aspect to the online gambling industry that some companies are finding equally lucrative.
Social gambling is a huge business. Games on smartphones or hosted on Facebook can make big money, with the best example at the moment probably coming from social gaming company Zynga. Their Zynga Poker game on Facebook is a huge earner both for the company and for Facebook itself, raking in money through the use of micro-transactions – small purchases of accessories or perks that enhance the playing experience.
With millions of players, even having a small percentage of users make these purchases is enough to bring in serious revenue. And with Facebook now warming to the idea of allowing for real money gambling in regulated jurisdictions, real money social gambling may be the next huge growth market for online gaming.
Now, an Australian start-up is looking to get in on the social gambling action. Virtual Gaming World, a company based in Perth, has recently secured $2.5 million in funding from an investment firm. They’ll be using that money to launch a game called Chumba World, a Facebook game that takes its own unique twist on the online gambling marketplace.
In Chumba World, players can take on either (or both) of two roles. As normal in these sort of games, players can play a variety of pokies and table games, winning or losing virtual cash along the way.
But more exciting is the option to run your own casino in the game. If you design and build your own virtual casino, you’ll be able to control the look and feel of the games, as well as customizing all of the pokies and table games in your casino. Other players will then be able to jump into your casino and try their luck. If your casino is profitable, you can cash out the virtual credits – turning them into real money. Players even have the option of offering skill games, like chess, along with more traditional casino fare.
Of course, that real money play would only be available in jurisdictions where Virtual Gaming Worlds was able to gain licensing, and where Facebook was comfortable with such arrangements. But it seems likely that the game – particularly given its heavy social element – could be a hit for play money as well, giving this game the potential to be a huge breakout hit on Facebook in the next year.
Chumba World is currently in beta testing, and is expected to be launched on Facebook in August.
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