Betable today revealed its real-money games platform, a private developer beta test and an undisclosed amount of seed funding.
Founder and CEO Christopher Griffin says social game developers’ biggest challenge with monetization lies with only a small percentage of players monetizing, meaning social titles usually require enormous player scale in order to be solvent. Creating a casino game or adding in gambling mechanics to a larger title, though, means developers could see much better monetization on social and mobile platforms. As we learned at April’s Global iGaming Summit and Expo in San Francisco, casino games on Facebook see higher engagement and average revenue per user than typical farm or simulation titles; online gambling sites see even greater revenues and conversion rates as high as approximately 70 to 80 percent.
Betable’s platform allows game developers to legally provide real-money gaming on titles on any platform or mobile device with a minimal amount of effort on the developer’s part. A game using its system only displays the results of the real-money mechanics, without the developer having to deal with any of the backend gambling mechanics. After the front end of a game is completed, a developer would go into Betable’s engine, configure the gambling logic on their servers and the front end of the game will ping Betable’s servers. From here, Betable does all the work behind the scenes: it produces the results, moves the money around, deals with fraud, security and support.
Betable’s servers sit in the United Kingdom. As such, the company’s real-money gaming falls under U.K. jurisdiction and the country’s laws allow them to operate anywhere in the world, with the exception of nations that explicitly forbid online gambling (like the United States, where gambling is only legal in limited form in Nevada and New Jersey). Although it’s expected that Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 will be overturned and online gambling will be legalized in the country within the next few years, the lack of a definite date means the company is focused on international audiences.
Signing up for Betable takes about an hour from start to finish, as opposed to the multiple years of legal issues with international gambling laws and millions of dollars in licensing fees it would take for a developer operating independently. An analogy for gambling law is that it’s like drinking ages, which vary from country to country: While a 19-year-old wouldn’t be old enough to drink in the United States, they can do so in France because they’re old enough under that country’s jurisdiction.
Griffin knows what it’s like to deal with these frustrations, as he tells us it took over two years for Betable to get the necessary licenses for the platform to operate on a global scale, even with a savvy legal team working on the project. “If I could do it all over again, knew exactly what I was doing and did everything perfectly,” he says, “the process would take around 18 months.”
The platform can be used in any type of game, not just social/mobile gambling titles. We were shown two examples of how this could work via screenshot mockups: With Zynga Slots, players could simply click on a title screen button to play for real money, while another option would allow users to bet on the outcome of player-versus-player titles like Hero Academy.
Details about the funding are being kept quiet for competitive reasons but the more-than-25 investors are led by Greylock Discovery Fund, FF Angel LLC, True Ventures, Dave Morin and Yuri Milner. Griffin also says Betable will try to close a Series A round of funding by the end of 2012, but is keeping quiet on any further details. There are currently over 30 developers in Betable’s private alpha test, but the company is now accepting a limited number of other partners for the beta version. Interested developers can visit the Betable’s official site to apply.