March Madness: A Backwards Picture

ncaa money“Hey Jeeve, what’s the buy-in this year? My bracket is going to win me everything.” During the next couple of weeks almost every employee, friend, and acquaintance is a part of, or hears, this conversation.

NCAA’s March Madness tournament, otherwise known as the “Big Dance”, is about to tip off, pitting the top 64 collegiate basketball teams in the country against each other. Away from the hardwood, it coincides with a  huge dip in productivity as the rest of us focus on which team is going to be upset on the road to the Final Four, rather than work. And more than a few of us will be putting money where our mouths are.

The US is about to enter a betting frenzy, where people join betting pool after betting pool, hoping to win the grand prize. This year, Warren Buffet offered a whopping $1bn to the person who predicts the outcome of each game in the NCAA tournament correctly (the odds of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion). For these few precious weeks in the Spring, policy makers forget they don’t approve of gambling. Even President Obama fills out his own bracket and takes part in an activity that millions of Americans enjoy.


March Madness pooling and betting is gambling at its finest, just painted with the veneer of acceptability that is rarely attached to Vegas casinos, or, heaven forbid, online gambling. In 2014, one-sixth of the US population – over 50 million people – will participate in an office betting pool, which are often technically illegal. To put that in perspective, a measly 37.1 million people visited Las Vegas in all of 2012.

Some estimates say put annual wagering on March Madness at around $12 billion, more than triple the amount of the Super Bowl. In Las Vegas, the 2013 NCAA tournament  resulted in $227 million bet in wagers whereas the 2014 Super Bowl, a record year, was just $119 million.  This is a big time betting event that gets the entire customer base and industry engaged to another level. How much more evidence do you need that Americans love to get a bet on?

It is hypocritical that this form of sports gambling is so normalized in the United States, while other forms of betting and gambling are banned. There is no reason why betting on March Madness pools, or even buying tickets for this week’s near-record $400m Mega Million lottery jackpot in California, should be just fine in the eyes of policy makers, while the same policy makers are trying to stop the advance of state-by-state regulation of online gambling.

It’s obvious that people knowingly, willingly, and gladly look forward and participate in big event betting at this time of the year. Then why is there such a negative stigma towards online gambling during other times? If there is one theme that is evident, regulating the gambling industry is all about perception.

Federal legislators are currently trying to “fix” the Wire Act to enforce a federal ban on online gambling, arguing that land based gambling is okay but online gambling is bad. Their hypocritical argument is based in political jargon that has no real foundation; it doesn’t detract from the fact that both are forms of gambling.

The American fixation with big event wagering is the prime example of a double standard that exists within the gambling debate in this country. Newspapers jump at the chance to cover the record amounts bet on events, yet the occasional day-to-day bet on a game of online poker is draped in a negative stigma. Especially through the lens of March Madness, it’s evident that the time has arrived for this picture to be flipped around.

Posted on March 20, 2014 Posted by Betable

Spiraling Acquisition Costs Threaten To Derail Economics Of Social Gaming

SuperData Research CPI-chart

SuperData Research CPI verses Mobile ARPU

The cost of acquiring players in the social games space has rocketed a shocking 288% since 2012, according to new research, raising worrying questions about economics of the social games industry.

Average cost-per-instal on mobile hit $4.36 in December according to SuperData Research, while average revenue-per-monthly-user continues flatline at around $20-25. In the Christmas spending boom, the SuperData analysts say they believe acquisition costs hit $7-8 per instal.

Continue to full article →

Posted on January 23, 2014 Posted by Betable

12 Months Of US Internet Gambling Progress


Copy of USA regulation map

Updated of USA regulation map

Happy New Year! 2013 was undoubtably the year that internet gambling regulation became a reality in the US.  This time 12 months ago there was NO legal online poker or casino gambling within US borders. Today there are three states which have fully regulated internet, a further three which are likely to put gambling laws to a vote, and several others which have publicly said they are keeping a watching brief on internet gambling.

Encouragingly in New Jersey, the US’s first market to legalize online casino and poker games, reported that 125,000 users have signed up to the state-regulated websites in the first couple months.

We are betting that 2014 will see even more change than 2013, as more states recognize the benefits of regulating and taxing internet gambling. Keep checking back to the Betable blog for updates or follow us on Twitter @betableAPI. To find out more about Betable, visit our developer website.

Posted on January 6, 2014 Posted by Betable

Adelson Plays Wolf To Online Gambling’s Three Little Piggies

NJ governor Chris Christy and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson

NJ governor Chris Christy and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson

On November 26 (if all goes according to plan) there will be three states in the US where online gambling is regulated and open for business. Everyone is watching these nascent markets carefully, to see if they achieve the objectives of providing a safe environment for gamblers and creating economically successful industries. And, as with anything new, everyone will be looking especially closely for any faults or mistakes.

Continue to full article →

Posted on November 19, 2013 Posted by Betable

Erik Bethke On Real Money Play And Building Great Games


Erik Bethke, 18-year veteran of the games industry and now CEO of Bee Cave Games, talks to the Betable Blog about putting together a world-class team of developers and why game companies might just have the edge on traditional gambling operators when it comes to the future of real-money play. Bee Cave Games is the studio behind the massively popular Blackjack Casino and has just partnered with Betable to offer real money play in their games. Continue to full article →

Posted on November 5, 2013 Posted by Betable

Gambling Industry Ripe For Innovation, CEOs Say


The gambling industry is not typically seen as an trend setting industry, and most companies operate an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” strategy. However there are finally signs that this attitude may be changing, as consumer demand and increasing competition drive change in the traditional industry.

For years the industry has been working with false sense of security, fostered by the huge amounts of revenue that, in the past, was easy to earn. But times are changing. Just look at US casino companies’ historic opposition to online gambling. Now nearly all the major US land-based companies are active proponents of online gambling.

In Europe, the online industry appears to be reaching a similar volte-face regarding the need for technological innovation. At the EiG conference in Barcelona last week, a panel of executives from some of the biggest players in the gambling industry admitted that innovation has been lacking. Continue to full article →

Posted on October 17, 2013 Posted by William Chambers

Americans Spent $2.6bn On Unlicensed Gambling Sites In 2012


American players spent $2.6bn gambling on illegal offshore gambling websites in 2012 according to research published this week by the American Gaming Association, a group representing US gambling industry interests.

This huge black market starkly illustrates the challenge facing the handful of US states that are seeking to launch real-money gaming markets this Fall. The amount of revenue being sent offshore also shows how ineffective the current Federal ban on gambling via the internet is.

Despite the passage of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and a crackdown on the world’s two biggest poker sites in 2011, consumer demand continues to make the United States one of the largest real-money gaming markets in the world, albeit entirely unregulated and illegal.

Continue to full article →

Posted on September 26, 2013 Posted by William Chambers

6 States That Could Regulate Online Gambling In 2014


New Jersey and Delaware are set to join Nevada this Fall as the first U.S. states to regulate online real-money gambling. But these trailblazers are being watched closely by their neighbors. How well the new markets perform over the next few months will influence whether legislators in other state capitols press ahead with their own online gambling laws. In this post, the Betable Blog looks at which states are most likely to pass online gambling legislation next year. Continue to full article →

Posted on September 17, 2013 Posted by Betable

Betable CEO Chris Griffin: Entry Strategies for Real Money Gaming

One year on from Betable’s first appearance at Casual Connect, it is clear that real-money gaming and monetization have only become more important to the games industry. At this year’s conference there was a dedicated casino track and an entire day dedicated to monetization, both of which saw wall to wall attendance.

On the conference’s opening day, Chris Griffin, Betable’s CEO and founder, presented his view of the convergence between games and gambling industry. His talk, Real Money Gaming: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Confusion, was aimed at busting common myths about the real-money gaming industry and outlining the best entry strategies for game developers who want to operate in this massively lucrative industry.

Downloadable slides of his presentation are here.


Posted on September 2, 2013 Posted by Betable

The Numbers of Real-Money Skill Gaming


One of my takeaways from the Casual Connect USA conference in San Francisco last week was the increased importance of monetization for the wider gaming industry. For the attending game developer there was an array of companies promising new ways of monetizing your games and players. It struck me that with so many options and so little context, the attending developer must find this a confusing choice. Continue to full article →

Posted on August 12, 2013 Posted by William Chambers

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