BSkyB Debuts Casino-Style Games

21 March 2003

Officials with British Sky Broadcasting are pleased with the initial response to the casino-style betting service it launched last week.

Without disclosing numbers, Richard Flint, Sky Interactive's director of betting and gambling, said the new feature, Sky Bet Vegas, has received a very positive response from customers. The company, Flint said, is "ecstatic" with the volume so far.

"The television has always been an entertainment device, but no longer is it just a passive one."
- Richard Flint
Sky Interactive

The initial rollout includes three fixed-odds games: Juicy Jackpot, Top Spin and Super Keno. Subscribers to Sky's digital satellite service, which reaches more than 6.6 million homes, can win up to £250,000 playing the games. Bets start at as little as 20p per play.

Flint said BSkyB wanted to test the fixed-odds betting market after studying the interactive TV habits of its customers over the last year.

Sky Bet, the company's sports betting business, saw betting increase 160 percent year-on-year in the six months to Dec. 31. During that same time period, revenues from Sky Bet increased 104 percent.

While sports betting grew in popularity through Sky's interactive TV service, Flint said research showed that the playing of computer-style games remained one of the most popular choices among subscribers; thus, it made sense to marry the desire to use the TV for entertainment with what it could legally offer in the way of casino-style games.

"We wanted to make sure that we were in full compliance of the law before we went and offered anything new," said Flint. "Until the laws change we can't offer anything other than fixed odds."

Flint also said that more fixed-odds games would be added if there is a demand, although he didn't speculate on when those additions would or could take place.

U.K. laws allow the operating of fixed-odds betting via interactive television, but not what's considered casino games. Changes to these laws could come soon, though, and Flint said that if it's legally permissible, BSkyB will offer a full array of casino games.

In developing its fixed-odds system, BSkyB turned to a familiar partner in Orbis, which already provides the backend betting technology for BSkyB's betting services. Because of the two companies' preexisting relationship, Flint said, Orbis was able to develop the backend system for the new games with relative ease.

"We have been very pleased with [Orbis'] work before and it makes the process so much easier when you have someone like them helping you along," he said.

The front-end system was developed in house.

Flint called the addition of the fixed-odds games a step in the evolution of the TV.

"The television has always been an entertainment device, but no longer is it just a passive one," he said. "Now people can actively get involved with the TV and in terms of playing games, oftentimes it is more convenient than having to power up your PC--which is usually in a different room--and go online."

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