The plan by UK online gaming platform Betable to serve as a conduit for social game companies looking to tap into real-money play reeled in a winner on Thursday. Seattle-based Big Fish Games announced the launch of Big Fish Casino, a “rebranded and improved” version of Card Ace: Casino by Self Aware Studios, which was acquired by Big Fish in March, and features slots, blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold’em Poker and ‘Slot Races’, a social mini-game in which players race each other in high-speed tournaments. The free-play version of Big Fish Casino is now available on Facebook, as well as via the iTunes App Store for iOS devices, while Android users can get the app via Google Play and Kindle users can find the app on Amazon.
But coming to the UK in a few weeks will be a real-money iPhone version of Big Fish Casino that utilizes Betable’s back-end real-money gambling platform. Just as Gamesys’ Bingo Friendzy made waves by becoming the first real-money gambling product to debut on Facebook in the UK, Big Fish Casino is breaking the same ground on the mobile front. It will also the first real-money gambling product to be distributed via the App Store, although TechCrunch understood Apple’s blessing was still not a foregone conclusion. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment specifically on Big Fish, but told Bloomberg that so long as games complied with local laws, they were permitted in the App Store. Unlike Facebook, which takes a 30% cut on virtually any money that changes hands on its platform, Apple will definitely not be taking a slice of the Big Fish app’s pie. Big Fish CEO Paul Thelen said Apple “wants to keep arms’ length from this. They don’t want to be the middleman in a gambling operation.”
The UK Big Fish app will be slots-only to start, with blackjack, roulette and poker to follow “in the coming months.” Betable CEO Christopher Griffin said he was looking forward to a “long and healthy partnership” with Big Fish, as Griffin believes “the first social gaming companies to offer real-money play will enjoy a substantial competitive advantage over those who wait.” Card Ace: Casino had roughly 1m monthly active users of its free-play product, and Thelen believes the chance to convert these players to real-money play represents “a very lucrative opportunity.”