A New Spin on P2P Wagering

16 May 2001
A Dutch company called Zootec Group this week introduced a new fold into the person-to-person wagering concept through the launch of its flagship product, "Zoogi."

The product creates an online betting platform that enables people to play any game on any site or network with their buddies for real money.

Zoogi is a virtual meeting room, independent of any game site, where online game players can play against each other for real money while conversing and collaborating using instant messaging and chat communication.

This week's official launch comes three months after a beta test that resulted in the acquisition of over 1,000 registered users.

Michael Gutman, founder of the Netherlands-based firm, says the new technology could have far reaching implications.

"Zoogi is changing the way online games are being played," Gutman said. "It is an asset to different kinds of game sites and networks, offering a new source of traffic, increased site and game stickiness and, most importantly, a non-advertising-based business model that works. We are currently in ongoing discussions with numerous game sites and publishers to facilitate their own users to play skills-based games for real money against each other."

Zoogi simulates a real world game-playing environment, using a numerical rating system (ranging from 1,200 to 2,500 points) according to skill as well as its own credibility ranking as an indicator of a player's trustworthiness for real-money games.

Susan Nehab, Zootec’s vice president of business development, says the ranking system was modeled after the system eBay uses; it's based largely on the satisfaction of the players. "A lot of sites aren’t getting people into repetitive play," she said. "We think this approach to it will help in that regard."

Nehab points out that the Zoogi community accepts players from a variety of backgrounds. "Anyone can join the community," she said. "Minors can join, but they can't win any monitory prizes. Adults can go into the deposit area and put money into their account and wager with it."

According to Nehab, Zoogi doesn't have much appeal to the heavy hitting gambler, but that has never been the focus. "The majority of the wagers average between $1 and $3," she added. "Most people just want to wager to add to the games' excitement."

While Zoogi brings together players, from a business perspective, Zootec is targeting game-related companies.

"Developing an online community is much harder to do now that it was in the past," Nehab said. "We are moving towards providing our technology to game developers, publishers and game sites, so they can incorporate our technology into their sites or games."

But it hasn't always been that way for Zootec. The company did start out trying to build its own community, but quickly realized that was too much of a challenge.

"Initially we went out into the market in hopes that we would build our own community and hope that people would play any game on any site and wager," Nehab said. "The whole atmosphere of communities has changed and we really feel that we should go to the communities that exist already and have them implement it into their sites."

By using a pre-paid or credit card, players can deposit money into Zoogi, agree on a wager and play the game at any site they agree on. When the game is over, the players declare who the winner is.

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