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Betting on a Jackpot from Virtual Gaming
Posted: 15-Feb-2001 [Source: Business Week Online]

[WAP forecast to become a growing part of worldwide betting.]

by Olga Kharif, New York -- "Gambling in Britain has long been associated with betting shops -- dreary, smoky rooms populated with shabby older men clutching cigars and wagering slips. But with the advent of the Internet, online gambling on everything from sports to soap-opera plots has become a chic pastime for young, affluent British professionals.

"The Brits aren't alone. Across Europe, interactive TV and new mobile phones equipped with wireless application protocol (WAP) let those so inclined place a bet anytime, from anywhere: work, supermarket, car, or soccer match. As the technology becomes more sophisticated and wagering gets faster and easier, virtual betting could emerge as a mainstream pursuit, much like the lottery, which is regularly played by 90% of British adults, says Damien Blenkinsopp of British e-consultancy Decipher.

"LINING UP. Eventually, I-TV and WAP technologies "are going to be interesting platforms" for betting worldwide, predicts Mark Finnie, gambling analyst at Deutsche Bank's British branch. And gaming companies are lining up to try to grab their share of the virtual pie, which Decipher estimates will grow from $1 billion in worldwide revenues in 1999 to $12 billion by 2004. While e-gambling accounts for only 10% of global gaming revenues, excluding lotteries, it's still the fastest-growing segment of the industry, says Marc Falcone, a gaming analyst at Bear Stearns.

"The world's largest online-betting businesses-- many of them with British roots, such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, BlueSquare, and Coral Eurobet -- have all invested heavily in I-TV and WAP-enabled betting technologies over the past year. I-TV allows users and viewers to bet using a TV screen and a remote control, while WAP allows users to access the Web instantly via a mobile phone or other handheld wireless device.

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