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Electronic Arts bring gambling to video gaming - 22nd
Gambling has come to the video-game console
in your living room.
Virgin Gaming, a division of Sir Richard Bransons
Virgin empire, announced this past week that it had
signed a deal with Electronic Arts (EA) to support
a majority of popular sports games, including the
wildly popular Madden NFL 11 and FIFA 11, using its
online wagering system.
announcement affects everyone from government regulators,
who are trying to decide how to best control the expansion
of Internet-based gambling, to parents who must now
keep an even closer watch over their childrens
allows video gamers to wager on the outcome of their
video -game challenges and then tracks the players
as they play on an Xbox 360 or PS3, ensuring no one
is cheating. The winner is then handed the payout.
Prizes can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
company said it already has 170,000 users from 30
countries signed up to use its online services.
far, the Virgin system only allows organized tournaments,
sort of like online poker tournaments meaning
players can buy into a tournament and then play their
way through it, with the champion claiming the jackpot.
tournaments, including a recent Maxim Magazine event,
would see gamers skip paying the entrance fee. However,
in the coming weeks, Virgin plans to open up a game-by-game
wagering system, which will allow gamers to create
their own tournaments and challenge others online
for real cash prizes.
is the biggest deal that weve had, said
William Levy, president of Virgin Gaming.
have the entry fee-based tournaments. We also have
sponsored tournaments. Lets say there was a
$10 entry fee tournament, you could click enter
now, agree to the terms and conditions and then
we deduct the $10 from your account and put it towards
begin wagering on Virgins tournament-play system,
a player must sign up for an account at the companys
website. Registering requires a credit card.
a handful of game tournaments have already been offered
on the Virgin system, including Halo: Reach and NBA
2K11, the addition of EA is set to greatly boost the
profile of the service and open Virgins wagering
system to fans of sports betting.
will also allow the company to begin offering new
services, such as Madden NFL 11 Red Zone, which will
be introduced in the coming weeks and will allow gamers
to create tournaments whenever they choose.
are going to be releasing user-generated tournaments
within the next month or so, said Levy.
video games represent big business.
Madden NFL franchise is the best-selling sports video
game in the United States, having sold more than 1.81
million copies in its first month on store shelves
in August. According to EA, fans of the title have
played more than 190 million games of virtual football
over the Internet on Xbox Live since the title launched
11 is the worlds best-selling sports game; more
than 2.6 million copies of the title were sold in
its first five days on store shelves in November.
On Jan. 14, EA announced the game had been awarded
a Guinness World Record. More than 775,000 people
participated in the FIFA Interactive World Cup this
past summer, making it the biggest Internet-based
gaming tournament ever held.
Littman-Sharp, manager of the problem-gambling service
at Torontos Centre for Addiction and Mental
Health, said the Virgin Gaming service should send
up a number of red flags.
said while small, infrequent wagers can be a fun way
to pass the time, large wagers on a regular basis
add up to a problem.
said addiction counsellors are already helping to
treat problem gamblers and they are also working to
treat people hooked on video games. Combining the
two creates a new problem, she said.
bridging the gap between online gaming and online
gambling, she said. We already see people
who have problems with both. I can already see this
being one more element that we are going to start
to be seeing in treatment.
Levy said the company has created a number of safeguards
to ensure underage players are barred from wagering
and problem gambling is flagged.
said the system only allows people to load $500 per
week into their Virgin accounts without contacting
a customer service agent.
on a real spending spree will also have their accounts
temporarily locked out until they speak to a customer
service agent about their account activity.
on sports is one of the largest segments of gambling
spending worldwide. More than $2.57 billion was legally
wagered in Nevada sports books in 2009, according
to the American Gaming Association.
is believed to represent less than one per cent of
all sports betting nationwide. Nevada is the only
state that allows sports gambling on all major sports
leagues in the United States. The FBI estimates that
more than $2.5 billion US is illegally wagered annually
on the March Madness college basketball tournament
to that is the more than $1.5 billion US wagered on
fantasy sports leagues annually, according to a study
by Kim Beason, a professor at the University of Mississippi.
stands to collect a chunk of that market thanks to
opening up sports betting to armchair quarterbacks
playing on a virtual pitch.
news comes at a time when governments around the world
are still trying to figure out how best to respond
to the growth of Internet gambling.
July, the provincial government in British Columbia
became the first in North America to begin offering
a government-run online casino.
move was made to cut back on private-sector encroachment
in the Internet-gambling space.
many governments have laws prohibiting wagers on games
of chance, such as slot machines, or even a mixture
of chance and skill, such as poker, there doesnt
seem to be anything prohibiting wagering on a game
of skill, such as a game of Madden NFL 11, over the
Internet, according to the RCMP, who are responsible
for policing Internet-based gambling in Canada.
Internet gambling is an issue that has been examined
by provincial and federal governments, there has been
no new legislation in Canada to specifically address
a bid to reduce exposure to Internet gambling sites,
in 2006 the Ontario government made it illegal for
Internet-based casinos and web-based poker games to
advertise in the province.
2004 report from the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba,
called Internet Gambling in Canada Waits in Legal
Purgatory lamented the lack of updated legislation
to deal with online gambling.
foundation said little has changed in the past six
years to deal with the issue.
Lottery and Gaming Corp. chairman Paul Godfrey has
publicly stated that the gambling regulator is loosing
as much as $500 million annually because it has turned
a blind eye to online wagering.
figure will only increase as more initiatives such
as Virgin Gaming spring up and grow in popularity.
The Vancouver Sun)