IGT and Caesar’s Bet Big Bucks on Social Gaming

Rumors that Facebook may enter the world of real money gaming combines with last December’s decision by the US justice department has many in the gaming industry excited. Since more than half of all Americans have Facebook accounts the potential of social gaming can easily be seen. Some casino companies are betting big bucks on the future of social gaming. Caesars Entertainment and International Gaming Technology (IGT) have already bet $700 million that legal social gaming will come to Facebook soon.

Recently slot machine manufacturer International Gaming Technology purchased Double Down Interactive for $500 million. Facebook based Double Down has 4.7 active users and the numbers are still growing. Some naysayers in the industry say that IGT paid way too much for a relatively new company. Some industry analysts also say that IGT’s focus on social gaming could hurt their core business of manufacturing slot machines. Some say that IGT could end up competing with its own customers. IGT marketing VP Stacie Alonso told Las Vegas reporters “IGT has no plans to operate an online casino in Nevada and compete with our customers.” IGT also spent $110 million to purchase Entraction Holding, a Swedish poker company.

Caesar’s Entertainment is also betting big bucks on social gaming. Recently Caesars Entertainment completed their purchase of Israeli social gaming company Playtika for $170 million. Playtika is behind Slotomania, one of the most popular games on Facebook. Caesar’s has made no secret of its intention to enter the online poker market once legalization takes place. Caesar’s has partnered with 888 Holdings to develop poker software. The company said it intends to have a site up and running within a year of legalization. With the purchase of Playtika and the partnership with 888 Caesar’s is well positioned to take advantage of legalized online gambling.

Caesar’s is also using social media as part of the company’s non-gaming marketing. Visitors to Caesar’s Las Vegas properties are awarded Total Rewards points for checking in using social media like 4square and Twitter. Gaming industry observers say that when huge gaming companies like IGT and Caesar’s start spending huge amounts of money on social gaming something huge is in the works. Real money gaming on Facebook has a huge potential for the gaming industry. Facebook has 900 million users worldwide so the potential for player acquisition can easily be seen. Facebook is situated to take advantage of legal online gaming around the world.

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