At the recent Global iGaming Summit and Expo (GiGSE) in San Francisco held April 23-26 this year, two of the biggest topics on just about everyone’s lips were social gaming and online gambling. No matter who chimed in, and regardless what organization they represented, most of the 680 delegates who convened to discuss the emerging iGaming market in the USA agreed on one thing … online gambling is headed to the social gaming market. With twice as many attendees as 2011, the discussion of online gaming and gambling is heating up at the highest levels.
VentureBeat’s GamesBeat blog recently reported an amazing trend that fully demonstrates how huge a marriage between online gambling and social media networks could be. According to online social media analytics firm Kontagent, farm simulation games like Farmville on Facebook that exploded in popularity in 2009 have bowed down in popularity to social casino games. Furthermore, social casino gaming popularity is growing exponentially. One Facebook statistic provided by Kontagent’s report showed that 6 percent of all Facebook social game players played casino games in 2010. That number grew to 8 percent in 2011, and now stands at an amazing 13 percent of all Facebook social gamers.
While social casino gaming at popular online social media hangouts is done for fun instead of profits, the doubling of that particular audience at the King of all social media websites is certain to draw the attention of prospective pay-to-play online casino owners. In fact, California is currently debating whether to make poker legal online, as their current government funding problems have led them to look for ways to bolster the local government’s bottom lines. And both Nevada and New Jersey are currently in the process of drafting online gambling legislation which would make that enterprise legal in both of those states as well.
It is clear that all the bigwigs and experts close to the situation agree that online gambling will be realized and legalized in the United States at some point, and those same parties agree that it will probably not happen federally, and will be left up to each individual state to handle. Those states and individuals pushing to legalize online gambling point to the Justice Department’s recent ruling on the Wire Act of 1961. The Justice Department ruled that the Wire Act cannot be used to apply to those states which sell lottery tickets across state lines.
When you combine local governments who are increasingly finding it harder to meet their budgets, with data which definitely shows their residents are already interested in some form of online social media and online gambling marriage, can the eventual wedding be too far off? There are obviously many issues to be resolved, namely age verification, physical location of the operation, legal jurisdiction and the all-important taxation. But when the power of social media combines with the allure of online gambling, as GiGSE attendees and Kontagent data seem to suggest, the arrival of legalized online gambling in each of the United States appears to become a safer bet every day.