June 17, 2010 (CAP News Wire) – Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin corporation has successfully entered so many different consumer markets that it’s hard to imagine the high-profile company failing at anything. Still, its decision to allow people to wager real cash in video game contests is drawing a lot of skepticism (and, to be fair, a lot of excitement, as well).
Based in Toronto, Canada, the newly launched division, called Virgin Gaming, works by letting gamers put money in a pool and then granting the winner of a gaming match the pot.
This is a different platform than Virgin Games, which offers online casino and poker gaming. The new Virgin Gaming isn’t intended to be used for casino-style games but instead to allow wagering on console-platform video games like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
“It wasn’t a question as to whether or not there was an industry out there, the question was who’s going to be the first person to figure out how to — in an automated approach — be able to offer a product like Virgin Gaming,” said Virgin Gaming CEO Rob Segal, according to the Ottawa Citizen. “This is the next big thing.”
“It’s the future of online gaming,” he added.
Virgin Gaming’s new online forum “to play against each other, enter tournaments and win prizes” will promise $1 million in collected winnings the first year, according to the Times Online.
So, if this isn’t technically online gambling, how is it different from Virgin’s existing online gambling platform, and how is it related to Internet casino affiliate programs? The connection here is the live betting aspect: Essentially, Virgin is enabling gamers to gamble on video game results. If this is successful, look for other, lucrative ways for people to bet money online. The implications for the online gambling market are clear: As the methods for betting expand (in Canada, and, presumably, elsewhere), the public will presumably gain more of a tolerance for online gambling, and that’s likely to help expand the online casino market, as well.
There are other implications, as well: “Thanks to Virgin’s extensive holdings -from airlines to wines -some of the future prizes could leave competitors salivating,” hints the Montreal Gazette.
And there’s a real-time connection between Virgin’s venture and existing online gambling platforms: “Last month, Maffei and Diaz-Mitoma’s Titan Gaming announced they had collected $1 million in venture capital to help them expand their video-game wagering system,” the Ottawa Citizen article adds. “The two companies join a handful of websites such as King.com, which already allow bets on matches of Internet-based games of billiards, dominos, mahjong and backgammon, among others. Players place their wagers with credit cards.”
“The services allow people to gamble on the outcome of a video-game tournament, which is considered a game of skill and is not illegal under either Canadian or American law,” the article continues.