House of Cards Bwin is teaming up with mobile operators T-mobile and 3* to offer British customers live multi-player poker over mobile handsets for the first time.
The news shows yet another attempt to expand gambling services to a more casual gaming audience.
In theory, Bwin's PokerRoom can be accessed today from certain mobile devices now. But the quality of the experience is so poor that for all practical purposes the potentially enormous market for handheld poker remains untapped. That is where Cellectivity comes in - the mobile gaming specialist has customized Bwin's service for handsets, enabling access to poker games anytime, anywhere. Bwin already offers live odds via mobile in certain jurisdictions, but the poker experience requires a greater degree of interactivity and a smoother interface.
PokerRoom has signed up 11 million money players since its launch in 2005, and Cellectivity will roll out a casual, play-for-fun version for those interested in learning the game without wagering any money. This blurring of the line between casual and money gaming could prove to be a very profitable development for the online gaming industry as a whole, since the number of people willing to wager a few bucks here and there vastly exceeds the hard core players.
The Yahoo! poker room is a good case in point. Yahoo! recently started a money poker room on its British site, seeking to leverage its strength in casual gaming in into a new revenue stream from money gaming. After all, the games and developers are the same - the only difference is that Yahoo! takes on an additional role as the "bank". A smooth mobile poker experience could provide Bwin with more customers at the touch of a button than Yahoo! Games has at any one time.
The mobile phone could well be the trojan horse the online gaming industry needs to cross over into more mainstream markets - those populated by folks uncomfortable with bookies and the like.
*Bootnote: A PR emailed us the following clarification: "Regretfully the Bwin - Cellectivity press release as issued on Friday May 25 inaccurately suggested that mobile network 3 had agreed to carry the PokerRoom application. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you."®
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