Frima, which has about 350 people and is based in Quebec, is opening up a real-money gaming division called 3OAK. Instead of going their own way with acquiring gambling licenses in different countries, Frima said they chose Betable to fast-track the process. Betable is a real-money gaming platform that already has a gambling license in the U.K., so that third-party developers can incorporate real bets in their games without having to go through the legal hassle of getting their own permits.
“They’ve already secured legality, which is a blessing to us,” said Mikael Lefebvre, who is a director of Frima’s 3OAK studios. “It makes our life much easier.”
This is a big year for Betable as the company is trying to get ahead of a wave of developers moving into social casino style games like slots and Slingo. At the same time, a difficult economic recovery has made more domestic states at least consider loosening online gambling regulations to improve their finances.
Zynga recently made its first moves toward enabling real-money gaming by applying for “preliminary finding of suitability” from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and partnering with bwin.party to offer real-money bets in the U.K.
While Betable hasn’t said how many games or developers it has signed or how many players it reaches so far, the company has disclosed partnerships with developers like Big Fish Games, Digital Chocolate, SGN, Slingo and Mandala. Big Fish, in particular, is a noteworthy client because their game Big Fish Casino is consistently one of the top 20 grossing iPhone games in the U.S.
Betable’s belief is that the casual gaming market is going to change over the next 18-24 months as some developers choose to pick up real-money betting and suddenly acquire a host of new “whales” or lucrative players. Those developers will suddenly be able to spend more on marketing, boosting costs for other similar game makers.
At the same time, real-money gaming creates its own unique set of challenges. Managing a game economy with real money is different from one with virtual currencies, where the developer needs to tweak currency sources and sinks properly to avoid inflation or deflation. Betable also says that it legally needs to manage the direct relationship with a game’s real-money players.
The company recently raised a round of funding from investors including Greylock, CrunchFund, Yuri Milner’s Start Fund, Founders Fund, True Ventures, Path co-founder Dave Morin, former Wikia CEO Gil Penchina, Delicious’ Josh Schachter, StockTwits’ Howard Lindzon and LOLApps former CEO Arjun Sethi. It also poached a few people from Zynga’s ranks including the former vice president of mobile Ya-Bing Chu and the guy behind Zynga’s bwin.party deal, former Zynga vice president of business development Jonathan Flesher.