Ladies and Gentlemen… The Doors

8 August 1999
If "content is king," online gambling portals are wearing the crown. Offering free e-mail, chats, gambling news, links to online gaming sites and more, these portals are opening a whole new door to the world of Internet gambling.

Companies such as Boss Media AB, Inland Entertainment, Intersphere Communications Ltd., Global Entertainment Holdings/Equities, Inc. and Bingo.com all currently have online gambling portals. The object of the portal is to increase traffic to gambling sites owned by the same company. In doing this, the portal site usually offers free e-mail, chats, and information and news about gambling or sports, depending on the company's specialty.

"The old golden rule on the web is that 'content is king.' Traffic is fine but unless you provide quality content updated frequently people won't bother to come back," said Jonas Hollander of Boss Media, which operates the highly successful portal, Casino.com.

Casino.com, launched in the Spring of '98, offers a wide array of information and gaming opportunities for players. There are links to all 12 of Boss Media's online casinos, as well as free e-mail and chats. The site also offers services such as casinowire.com, which has up-to-date gambling news and interviews with celebrities from the gaming world. Another service, Casinoseek.com, allows users to search categories such as casinos (both land-based and online), news and publications and travel and city guides.

Casino.com advertises through an affiliate program in which it pays companies 15 cents per referral. The site has been a tremendously successful enterprise for Boss Media, Hollander said. Because of the portal, Boss Media casinos receive "tens of thousands of visitors daily."

Inland Entertainment has a unique portal (www.vegasathome.com)--launched July 17, 1999--which is designed as a city (presumably Las Vegas) with links on different buildings. Links include Inland's casinos--Las Vegas at Home Casino, Kenny Rogers Casino, Casino Australia and the Good Luck Club--Las Vegas hotel listings, travel discounts, books about gambling and gaming news.

"The goal is and has always been to create a site or Web destination that offers users the most unique and valuable free content and resources all pertaining to Las Vegas and casino gambling in general," said Eric Opel, marketing manager for Inland Entertainment Corp. "So far, we believe the site has been and will be tremendously successful."

Intersphere Communications Ltd. runs a portal site, www.gamblenet.com, which gives information on relevant books and free e-mail addresses for users as well as links to its play-for-fun casino. (You might recognize the URL as the former Web address for Sports International, which crashed and burned back in the days when Intersphere's parent company, Interactive Gaming & Communications Corp.) Interestingly, gamblenet doesn't feature ads for Intersphere casinos. Most of the advertisements instead link to casinos by Tropika International Ltd., a licensee of MicroGaming. Intersphere doesn't run the site to get customers, however; it uses gamblenet for ad revenues, said Steve Schaeffer of Intersphere.

"Gamblenet is just one of numerous advertising venues we use to publicize our operations and build individual casino brands and presence," said Brian Cullingworth, marketing director for Tropika. "We continuously monitor performance of our banner advertising and move the business to the venues which work best for us."

Global Entertainment Holdings/Equities, Inc. operates a portal site at www.TheSportsDaily.com, started in early 1999, which incorporates up-to-date sports news with a link to VIPSports.com, Global Entertainment's sports book and casino site.

Bingo.com became an official member of the portal family when its real-money game went live in late July. The site offers free e-mail, international bingo, North American bingo (which is on hold pending current legislation), and the opportunity to win a vacation by telling a friend about the site.

Total Entertainment is also planning on starting a portal site at www.go2total.com, expected to debut in the third quarter of 1999.

Meanwhile, dozens of new portals by operators of wagering sites are surely in the works and awaiting their unveilings in coming months.

The portal phenomenon is for real and its only going to get bigger. When marketed successfully and supplied with adequate content, the online gaming portal is a proven edge in an industry where gaining an edge has become a necessity for survival.