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Casual Gaming is Latest Medium

By: Adam Richards, Monday January 24th 2011
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The Media and Entertainment Consulting Network (MECN) is a provider of in-depth knowledge, analysis and advice to global clients. Gambling, particularly online gambling, is a special field of interest at MECN. Its latest report is titled "Casual Gaming and Gambling on the Internet". This report reveals that online gambling operators are exploring new ways of increasing revenue streams. Whilst they will continue to target the regular gamblers at online casino and poker sites, they are also seeking to attract casual gamers found in social networks, online lotteries and online bingo. The report pinpoints that 85% of online gambling operators have plans to increase penetration in social networking sites in order to boost growth over the next two to three years. The MECN report states that operators PartyGaming and 888 and software provider Playtech have made recent heavy investments in this field.

MECN has included some country wise analysis and observations in the report. It notes that casual players are the primary revenue-generating segment in the recently partly liberalized markets such as France and Italy. In the markets that hold online gambling as illegal, such as the United States, fantasy sports and skill games allow strategic entry. MECN has indicated that some online gambling operators are in strategic discussions with Zynga Poker. Zynga Poker has over 36 million active users per month and between 200,000 and 400,000 online players at any one time. This number is significantly more than even in leading poker rooms.

However, the biggest growth is expected in the online lottery and numbers games. As a caution the report does add that as of now the online lotto is being dominated by state operators, but this could change very soon. Martin Oelbermann is one of the co-authors of the report. He forecasts, "Large private operators will soon discover online lotto and numbers games. What started in 2009 with hefty investments in bingo will spread to lotto and numbers games - maybe already in 2011."

This sector has both retail and online outlets, with gross revenues estimated at $100 billion. Though currently the sector is still largely dominated by retail-focused state lotteries, MECN foresees that the Internet will make its mark soon. Total sales of online numbers games amounted to around $1.9 billion in 2010 but are expected to grow to $5.5 billion by 2015. Oelbermann concludes by stating, "The race to win over casual gamblers is surely on, and lotto/numbers games will play a vital role in this race. Therefore, state lotteries and NGO operators should start getting ready if they do not want to lose their last stronghold."

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