Seattle-based RealNetworks, the company behind the RealPlayer streaming media technology, has paid $15.6m to acquire social casino developer Slingo Inc. RealNetworks founder/interim CEO Rob Glaser, who announced the deal on Wednesday at the Casual Connect conference in San Francisco, said his company was already “hard at work creating even more compelling new versions of Slingo for Facebook, iPhone, iPad and Android.” Slingo CEO Rich Roberts claimed to be “thrilled to be joining RealNetworks’ GameHouse division,” which he said would help take the popular slots/bingo hybrid game “to the next level.”
RealNetworks also announced that its GameHouse Casino offshoot would begin offering a monthly $100k ‘sweepstakes’ starting Aug. 1. GameHouse’s 50m players will be given the opportunity to win a ‘Golden Ticket’ via slots, blackjack, roulette and video poker play, and said ticket gains them entry into the Golden Dreams Sweepstakes draw. The social gaming sweepstakes tie-in isn’t new: a year ago, Idle Games’ Fresh Deck Poker was offering “sweepstakes-like tournaments” while waiting for the real-money gambling train to pull into the station.
Glaser says the company made a decision nine months ago not to pursue real-money gaming in the US, because it’s simply “not going to become a mainstream thing anytime soon.” Glaser equated changing public policy with “swimming through molasses. You can get there, but it’s really slow.” In the meantime, a detailed study of the law books has determined that the sweepstakes gambit is legal in 31 states and the District of Columbia, which Glaser says covers about 70% of GameHouse’s user base.
Glaser told Bloomberg TV that so long as you “follow the cookbook” of state and federal laws, the sweepstakes plan was legit. GameHouse also offers an “alternative means of entry” similar to the ‘no purchase necessary’ requirements of traditional sweepstakes offerings. RealNetwork’s social gaming division has yet to turn a profit in its year-long history, losing $1.7m on revenue of $13.9m in Q1 2013. But Glaser says the new products will “individually and together reignite the company and revitalize the company and turn us back into a growth business.”