Bookie Mania is a new Facebook game from Bookie Mania Ltd. It’s a “social betting game” designed to encourage its players to bet on various events against the house, other players or their Facebook friends.
Upon starting Bookie Mania for the first time, players are presented with a menu of options. From here, it’s possible to make a bet against the house, against other “bookies” (players) around the world, or against friends.
Betting against the house is the simplest option. This takes players to a screen where they can choose a category of bet, ranging from various sports to the financial markets. From here, players drill down until they get to a specific category, at which point they will be presented with a range of possible things to bet on in the category, along with the odds for each. For those unfamiliar with betting, a handy popup tooltip tells players exactly what the odds readout means they will win if their bet is successful. A default amount to bet is given, but players may choose to bet more if they desire — though there is a maximum bet of 50,000 currency units if betting against the house.
If choosing to bet against another “bookie,” the first thing that players must do is pick someone to play against. This may be done from a leaderboard which appears, or search results may be refined according to preferred subject, categories, teams, win ratio and other criteria. Clicking on a bookie brings up their profile, showing detailed statistics regarding their betting behavior along with any special vanity items they have purchased using their in-game currency. At this point, players can make a custom bet according to the same categories if betting against the house — they can even offer custom odds if desired. If the “bookie” the player bet against loses the bet, they must manually pay out the winnings within 36 hours of the result being known, otherwise they will be heavily penalized.
In order to become a “bookie” and thus be able to accept bets from others, a player must accumulate 200 “stars” worth of virtual goods. Each good is worth a certain number of stars, with more expensive items being worth more stars. Some items are permanent purchases, others are simply rentals that provide a temporary boost to stars until they expire. Some goods must also be unlocked by completing various achievements before they can be purchased. The player must remain over the 200 star boundary in order to continue being a bookie, and will also lose 200 stars’ worth of their lowest-value goods if they fail to pay out winnings to a player who beat them within 36 hours.
An alternative means of playing the game is the “bet against friends” option. Here, the player does not have to have reached “Bookie” status and can create a bet on literally any subject simply by typing it into a freeform text box. Odds and bet amounts may be set as usual, and then the bet sent either to Bookie Mania or Facebook friends. The mechanic is supposedly intended as a means for managing “real money” bets between friends, but any actual monetary transactions between friends must be completed outside the game — the only “winnings” it’s possible to pay out in the game itself are in the form of virtual currency.
Bookie Mania is a good idea at heart but it could use some polish. At present, its interface is drab and lacking in character, and there are no sound effects or music. The gameplay, such as it is, works fine, but it does rely somewhat on a knowledge of how betting and odds usually work — an interactive tutorial to introduce players to making their first bet might be a good addition. A friendlier interface with a greater infusion of personality would also help attract new players to the game — as it stands, being confronted with a comprehensive menu as soon as you start the game up for the first time may be a little daunting for new players.
Aside from presentational issues, a potential future addition to the game could be genuine real-money betting, though this will limit the audience to those territories where this is legal. This is a growing and potentially lucrative market, however, and one that Bookie Mania Ltd may wish to consider looking into for the long term.
Bookie Mania is not yet listed on our tracking service AppData, but Facebook indicates the game has 700 monthly active users so far.
“Social betting” is a good idea at heart, but this game needs a significant degree of polish to make it more universally appealing.