LAS VEGAS – Cell phones are slowly being turned into one-armed bandits, a panel at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) industry trade show here was told.
In Germany, cell phone users punch in a few numbers and play the lottery; parlaying a trifecta at the Hong Kong Jockey Club is also only a telephone number away; and in London one of the world’s largest online betting companies, Eurobet, offers a tutorial on how to turn a Nokia phone into a betting machine.
Sweden’s Net Entertainment, an online casino developer, is launching a wireless casino game for WAP (wireless application protocol) – enabled phones, some of which have already hit the market. And in the United States, a family-owned business in Colorado called wirelesswinnings.com is testing a way to play blackjack and draw poker for cash winnings – all from a cell phone.
Gambling on the Internet is nothing new, we’ve seen a surge of online casinos such as Jackpots Casino to name a few. It is part of an adult entertainment industry that Jupiter Research analysts say reaches upwards of $6 billion a year. It was only a matter of time before the wireless Web caught gambling fever as well. These wireless gambling sites have appeared relatively unnoticed amid the chaos of a young industry distracted by its own growth.
Alan Reiter of consulting firm Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing said the wireless industry has yet to really face the issues surrounding gambling. There are questions about what controls should be put in place, if any.
There are also the murky legal waters of whether a company in the United States, where gambling is for the most part illegal, can even offer such a service. The panel at the CTIA annual convention is likely the first to try and address such issues about adult entertainment.