Nowadays, it seems you can’t call yourself a gaming company unless you have your own free-play social game. It’s like a flashback to the days when you were the one kid on the block whose mom still bought him Keds while all the other kids were sporting Air Jordans. Even the venerable Ladbrokes is considering getting into the social betting world, as CEO Richard Glynn believes “it’s a phenomenal application” and “an area we have to get into.” However, Glynn says the company hasn’t “crossed the Rubicon yet.”
Speaking of Rome, Caesars Entertainment’s online division Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) has teamed up with game developers Electronic Arts (EA) on a Facebook game bearing Caesars’ World Series of Poker brand. The World Series of Poker for Facebook (inspiring name, huh?) expands on the app CIE had previously released for Android and iOS mobile devices. Players can choose to play ‘cash’ games for virtual credits or enter tournaments for the chance to win a virtual WSOP bracelet or ring. Fair warning: if you bust out, you’ll need to use real money to buy more virtual chips, because unlike Caesars Entertainment, you’re not allowed to run up $21b in debt.
Next up is UK operator Coral, whose Coral Interactive division is prepping a social sports betting product for Facebook. Coral Sportsplay, which will be powered by Gibraltar-based Socailitize (the folks behind the 2Bet2 social sports betting product), will make its debut later this month, allowing punters to bet virtual cash on real-life and virtual sports events, as well as try their luck peer-to-peer, either mano y mano or tournament style. Coral Interactive marketing director Matt Prevost says Sportsplay allows punters to “try their betting skills and test their sports knowledge without risk.” although we understand happiness is impossible without risk, so we guess the message here is that Coral wants you to be unhappy.
Texas-based Nevada Gold & Casinos Inc. recently dropped plans to build a Las Vegas brick-and-mortar casino but is proceeding with plans to launch of its own social gaming site. Gold Star Slots offers players the chance to spin the same slots they’d find at Nevada Gold’s land-based properties in Washington and South Dakota as well as learn about promotions and upcoming events. Gold Star Slots was launched in conjunction with technology and services provider Traffic Generation.
The money generated by social casino games was a hot topic at the Casual Connect Europe event in Hamburg earlier this month. According to confab coverage by VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi, Caesars’ 2011 social game acquisition Playtika is generating $350m in annual revenues. The source of this estimate is something of a puzzler, as Caesars has been more than coy about sharing specifics on CIE’s profitability, going as far as to bundle CIE into its catch-all ‘other’ revenue segment to obscure the true figures. But since ‘other’ generated just $62.5m in Caesars’ Q3 financial report card, that $350m annual total seems a tad high. Perhaps we’ll find out more when Caesars reveals its Q4 and FY 2012 debt servicing, er, earnings report this week.