Last week the online gambling group bwin.party announced plans to invest $50 million in social games over the next two years. The money will be used to set up a new game studio called “Win” and develop and launch a number of new social gambling games.
Win will be run by Barak Rabinowitz, the former CEO of Mytopia. The company’s technology unit will be led by Alex Usach, previously of Flextronics International and Aricent Group. A game produce from Electroinc Arts, Dan Matkowski, will be the lead game producer and Willi Kalisky will be the head of publishing having worked with social game companies at venture capital firm Greylock Partners. Finally, in charge of prototype development will be Dennis Hettema whose company Hettema & Bergsten developed Aces Hangout for bwin.party on Google+.
Game developers are increasingly turning to social casino games on Facebook as they tend to have stronger user conversion and retention rates. A number of land based casino companies, such as Caesar’s Entertainment and MGM Resorts, are striving for dominance in the social gambling world while known social gaming companies, such as Zynga, continue to release gambling themed social games.
Recent data shows that the top gambling game on Facebook is Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker which attracts 6.9 million daily active users; this is followed by Zynga Slingo with 3.5 million and then Playtika’s Slotomania with 2 million. There is a high chance that bwin.party’s $50 million investment could give them a real advantage as other studios have been relying on previous success to build in the social gaming market.
bwin.party is one of the world’s largest online gambling networks formed after the merge of bwin and PartyGaming last year. It would not be surprising if they manage to find an original approach, and breathe new life into the world of social gambling.