For all of you Facebook fans out there, and there are certainly hundreds of millions of you, a brand-new virtual poker room and casino has just opened up on your favorite social network. RocketPlay is an online gaming company based in the United Kingdom, where multiple “play for pay” online betting services are allowed to legally operate. They recently opened the “Sports Casino” on Facebook, and it bears a striking resemblance to many of the real money online betting services that already operate in the UK and other countries. RocketPlay currently offers five casino games including a poker room and a sports book, which allow betting virtual money on the outcome of professional football, hockey, basketball and baseball games.
How does this blatant gambling game tiptoe around the current regulations in the United States against playing online poker for money? Matthew Cullen is the president of RocketPlay, and he explained that the game is free to play and involves gambling with virtual RocketPlay money, not real currency. Obviously betting on the eventual transformation into playing for real money online on Facebook, he stated that when a player runs out of the free virtual currency at RocketPlay, they can then purchase more. This is how his company creates revenue and income, and the subtle difference between playing for real money and buying virtual money wisely gets social gamers involved in the idea of spending their real money at a casino or poker room.
The unique play also allows RocketPlay players to make bets in the middle of a sporting contest. This type of play is much more popular in the UK and other countries overseas than in the US, whereas traditional sports gambling in the United States has centered on the outcome of an entire contest. Cullen previously held the position of Vice President at Betfair, one of the largest real money online betting companies in the UK, and he said that a full 80% of overall bets there were placed after a sporting contest begins.
Whether placing virtual wagers on sporting contests or playing a few hands of poker, social gamers in the RocketPlay Sports Casino are obviously likely to be those people who have already wagered actual money on a hand of poker or a sporting contest in the past. And Cullen noted that extensive research shows the audiences “for poker and sports betting are nearly identical.” Cullen’s company has partnered with social media gaming giant Zynga in an agreement that allows Zynga to publish RocketPlay’s poker and casino games on both Facebook as well as Zynga.com. In the face of the $30 billion created annually in online gambling revenue worldwide, Zynga has been for forming strategic partnerships with many “free play” online poker rooms and casinos.
The possibilities of online poker and gambling casinos being offered in the United States is in its present state thanks to the United States Department of Justice. On December 23 of last year, they reversed an ages old decision regarding the Federal Wire Act which outlawed all forms of online gambling. At that time the DOJ decided to pass that responsibility to the state level, allowing each individual state to decide their online poker and online gambling destiny. Legal social gaming applications which allow you to pay for virtual currency with real currency are the first step to eventually offering “pay for play” online poker and gambling casinos in the US, a day that Cullen says is getting closer all the time.