Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Playdom and Harrah's Interactive Entertainment Team to Launch the Official World Series of Poker® Game on Facebook and Other Social Networks

July 29, 2010: summarized from MarketWire -- With the 2010 World Series of Poker down to the Main Event November Nine, and with record breaking participation in this, its 41st year, the world's most popular poker brand is launching an exciting social network poker application.

The competition is just heating up on Facebook with the launch of WSOP poker. Poker players across the globe will be able to engage in the WSOP experience all year long.

Harrah's Interactive Entertainment, Inc. (HIE) has entered into an agreement with privately-held Playdom, Inc., a Mountain View, California-based social games company, with more than 46 million active monthly users across their network of games.

Playdom will re-launch its existing online poker game, Poker Palace, by re-branding the Facebook game with the "World Series of Poker" brand and will work with the HIE team to create one of the most fun and social poker games available on social networks.

"We are very excited to bring the thrill and excitement of the World Series of Poker to the social gaming space with Playdom," said WSOP Vice President Craig Abrahams. "We will immediately start to work on enhancing the game, bringing unique WSOP promotions and sweepstakes into the offering and ensuring that the battle for WSOP virtual championship bracelets can become a Facebook-friendly endeavor."

The WSOP-branded poker game launches globally this week and can be found initially by visiting http://www.facebook.com/WSOP, with added social networks like MySpace and others following soon.

"There is only one brand in poker that stands out and that is the World Series of Poker," said Sean Phinney, Vice President of Business Development for Playdom. "We think big brands will win on social networks and we are excited to start working together to create a unique and fun social gaming experience."

Game enthusiasts will be able to choose from a variety of different poker offerings at WSOP on Facebook including single table play money, virtual cash games and single-table tournaments featuring both full-table and short-handed play. All poker play will feature play money only. Among the offerings coming soon include the battle for virtual WSOP bracelets, as well as opportunities to enter sweepstakes that award prizes including trips to Las Vegas and seats to live WSOP events.

The game is expected to evolve over time, adding regular updates and enhancements. In addition, a variety of other social gaming platforms will be offered to play the game globally.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/94Aryt

Ontario Set to Bet on Legalized Online Gambling

August 7, 2010: summarized from Toronto Star -- Ontario is poised to roll the dice on Internet gambling as British Columbia, the United States and other jurisdictions clear the decks for legalized online gaming.

“At this point it’s something we can’t ignore,” a government official told the Star Friday. “It’s something that we’re exploring.”

While it’s not clear how soon Ontarians could be playing Texas Hold ‘Em poker, roulette or baccarat on their computer keyboards through a provincially run website, the government is clearly warming to the idea. Some experts estimate online gambling is growing at a rate of 20 per cent annually.

The policy signal comes just months after Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation chairman Paul Godfrey, on his first day on the job in February, said it’s time the province took a look at online gambling.

“Money is going out of this province to other provinces as well as offshore sites,” warned Godfrey, who was brought in by Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government to put the scandal-plagued lottery corporation on a solid footing.

At the time, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said it was too early to say whether Internet gambling was in the cards for Ontario – which is fighting a $19.7-billion deficit this year as the Liberal government approaches a re-election fight in October 2011.

But the tide on Internet gambling appears to be turning around the world, with governments softening their views on outright bans in favour of regulating and profiting from gambling that is already taking place under their noses.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/csVXL9

What Americans Do Online: Social Media and Games Dominate Activity

August 2, 2010: summarized from NielsenWire -- Americans spend nearly a quarter of their time online on social networking sites and blogs, up from 15.8 percent just a year ago (43 percent increase) according to new research released today from The Nielsen Company. The research revealed that Americans spend a third their online time (36 percent) communicating and networking across social networks, blogs, personal email and instant messaging.

“Despite the almost unlimited nature of what you can do on the web, 40 percent of U.S. online time is spent on just three activities – social networking, playing games and emailing leaving a whole lot of other sectors fighting for a declining share of the online pie,” said Nielsen analyst Dave Martin.

- Online games overtook personal email to become the second most heavily used activity behind social networks – accounting for 10 percent of all U.S. Internet time. Email dropped from 11.5 percent of time to 8.3 percent.
- Of the most heavily-used sectors, videos/movies was the only other to experience a significant growth in share of U.S. activity online. Its share of activity grew relatively by 12 percent from 3.5 to 3.9 percent. June 2010 was a major milestone for U.S. online video as the number of videos streamed passed the 10 billion mark. The average American consumer streaming online video spent 3 hours 15 minutes doing so during the month.
- Despite some predictions otherwise, the rise of social networking hasn’t pushed email and instant messaging into obscurity just yet. Although both saw double-digit declines in share of time, email remains as the third heaviest activity online (8.3 percent share of time) while instant messaging is fifth, accounting for four percent of Americans online time.
- Although the major portals also experienced a double digit decline in share, they remained as the fourth heaviest activity, accounting for 4.4 percent of U.S. time online.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/9lkqH9

On the Web's Cutting Edge, Anonymity in Name Only

August 4, 2010: summarized from Wall Street Journal -- You may not know a company called [x+1] Inc., but it may well know a lot about you. From a single click on a web site, [x+1] correctly identified Carrie Isaac as a young Colorado Springs parent who lives on about $50,000 a year, shops at Wal-Mart and rents kids' videos. The company deduced that Paul Boulifard, a Nashville architect, is childless, likes to travel and buys used cars. And [x+1] determined that Thomas Burney, a Colorado building contractor, is a skier with a college degree and looks like he has good credit.

The company didn't get every detail correct. But its ability to make snap assessments of individuals is accurate enough that Capital One Financial Corp. uses [x+1]'s calculations to instantly decide which credit cards to show first-time visitors to its website.

In short: Websites are gaining the ability to decide whether or not you'd be a good customer, before you tell them a single thing about yourself.

The technology reaches beyond the personalization familiar on sites like Amazon.com, which uses its own in-house data on its customers to show them new items they might like.

By contrast, firms like [x+1] tap into vast databases of people's online behavior—mainly gathered surreptitiously by tracking technologies that have become ubiquitous on websites across the Internet. They don't have people's names, but cross-reference that data with records of home ownership, family income, marital status and favorite restaurants, among other things. Then, using statistical analysis, they start to make assumptions about the proclivities of individual Web surfers.

"We never don't know anything about someone," says John Nardone, [x+1]'s chief executive.

Capital One says it doesn't use the full array of [x+1]'s targeting technology, and it doesn't prevent people from applying for any card they want. "While we suggest products that we believe will be of interest to our visitors, we do not limit their ability to easily explore all products available," spokeswoman Pam Girardo says.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/c794vB

Zynga Pulls FarmVille Off MSN Games

August 10, 2010: summarized from Inside Social Games -- Zynga has removed its hit game FarmVille from MSN Games, one of the bigger game portals around, we’ve learned. Zynga first added FarmVille to MSN in February.

This is not the first time that Zynga has pulled a game from a platform. The company did the same with the social network Tagged, canceling a much-discussed partnership.

The departure from MSN looks much more notable, in the grand scheme. MSN itself claims to have about half a billion monthly users worldwide between Games and Messenger — equal to what Facebook claims for itself.

One of the big stories in social gaming right now is that developers are interested in moving beyond Facebook, keeping a line back to the social network’s graph with Connect. With partnerships like FarmVille on MSN, Zynga has been a leader in that move.

But it appears that Zynga didn’t find the traffic MSN produced meaningful enough to continue running FarmVille on the Microsoft platform. Since MSN is traditionally one of the biggest gaming sites on the web, Zynga’s departure suggests the traffic other social developers are hoping to find off of Facebook may be more difficult to find than expected.

A lackluster performance for FarmVille on MSN may also serve to explain why Zynga appears to be putting much of its energy into mobile apps, and international markets like Japan and China. There’s still hope for the US market, though, at least judging by Google’s investment of up to $200 million in Zynga and plans for a new social effort.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/bGmqw1

Scientific Games Acquires GameLogic Software and Related Assets

August 5, 2010: summarized from PRNewswire-FirstCall -- Scientific Games Corporation has acquired substantially all the assets of GameLogic Inc., a provider of interactive marketing services for the U.S. regulated gaming industry, including GameLogic's software for internet-based loyalty programs for lottery players as well as an extensive suite of interactive games and other related intellectual property. Scientific Games has also hired several key members from the GameLogic development and marketing teams. Scientific Games intends to integrate the GameLogic assets with its existing Properties Plus™ business.

GameLogic, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, was founded in 2002 and developed a number of web-based loyalty programs for the casino industry before recently expanding its offerings to serve the needs of lotteries. GameLogic has a library of over 90 interactive games available for entertainment purposes or to award prizes, along with a complete lottery players club website and back-end infrastructure.

Scientific Games has been a leader in providing internet services to the lottery industry since 2001 when it offered the first second chance promotion entry website. Scientific Games has developed over 200 websites for lotteries over the years and has provided players clubs/loyalty services to several lotteries, including lotteries in Arkansas, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Tennessee.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/aaiwD0

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Report on the Frank Bill Amendments

GamblingCompliance has issued an Exclusive Report on the Frank Bill Amendments following the House Financial Services Committee’s approval of Rep. Barney Frank's bill to regulate online gambling in the United States.

This Report contains key analysis from our US journalists and lawyers based in our Washington D.C office. It also provides a summarized table which lays out the core elements of the approved Amendments with voting patterns, and focuses on the potential impacts upon the following sectors:

Tribal Gaming, State Lotteries, Payment Processing, Sports Betting, Off-Shore Gaming Interests, State Opt-Out Periods, Consumer Protection and Advertising Regulations.

Download report at: http://scr.bi/9VWRNX