Author: Anton Johan
You don't have to be a rocket surgeon to see that most of the world's biggest
social gaming firms are looking at getting involved in the highly lucrative
world of online, or to be more accurate, virtual gambling. The question I want
to pose is whether the line between social and real money gambling games
I believe the answer is yes, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
In this very column a couple of months ago, I reported how leading Seattle-based
social games developer Big Fish Gaming was gearing up to launch its Big Fish
Casino app (for Apple iOS and Android), which would give players the choice to
play for play money as well as - and a first for Big Fish - real money.
Big Fish Casino App Now Downloadable
Well, the Big Fish Casino app is now officially available to download - by
gaming fans in the UK - and by all accounts has been extremely well received so
far. But the move from purely fun gambling games to real money gambling games is
tricky, and one that gaming firms are having to negotiate very carefully.
The reason is that while play money games are pretty easily accessible by most
gaming fans regardless of their age because there is no actual risk financially,
real money gambling games are a 'different animal' completely, mainly because of
the risk of facilitating and potentially encouraging underage gambling.
And it's for this reason that social game developers like Big Fish have had to
incorporate special verification technology alongside their virtual casinos in
order to vet their real money players with the objective of keeping underage
gamblers at bay, as well as gamblers based in 'virtual gambling-unfriendly'
Big Fish Gaming Partnered with Betable
In this regard, Big Fish has partnered with a firm called Betable, which comes
into play invisibly as soon as a player at Big Fish Casino opts to play for real
The way it works is that any real money games at Big Fish Casino involves
Betable. When a Big Fish Casino player selects to play slots, video poker,
roulette or blackjack for real money, they are automatically rerouted to
Betable's servers which houses special software that verifies their physical
location and age.
If the software reveals a player to be based in a country, state or territory
(like the United States) where virtual gaming is not legal, licensed or
regulated, they will not be allowed to proceed, or if it shows them to be
underage. In addition, Betable's servers boast anti-fraud software smart enough
to recognise if someone attempts to fake their location or use a false IP
Real Money Players Verified by Age and Location
In short, Big Fish takes care of the casino front-end, while Betable takes care
of the back-end where real money players are concerned. From a player point of
view, whether they play for fun or for real money, the process is user-friendly
and seamless, and they will only be flagged if their age or location is in
If Big Fish Gaming's foray into real money gambling demonstrates
anything, it's that it is one of the pioneers where the crossover from social
games to real money games is concerned. And Big Fish will certainly not be the
last social games vendor to hop on the real money virtual gaming bandwagon with
a view to increasing their bottom line.
I can see the lines blurring, can you?
Posted by Anton Johan at 11:11 on 31 October 2012