Online poker prompts interest in interactive gaming

The runaway success of online poker sites is stimulating interest in gambling on interactive TV.

UK bookmaker Ladbrokes recently revealed that profits from its online gaming division were up 50% to over £21 million, apparently boosted by explosive growth in online poker, which is soon expected to overtake revenue from traditional sports betting.

Meanwhile online betting and casino site Sportingbet announced record profits for the last six months, up 85% to £26 million on a turnover of £825 million, driven by an £8 million profit on turnover of £12.5 million in the Paradise Poker division it acquired last year. With over 800,000 registered poker players and as many games played each day, growth has exceeded expectations.

Analysts will also be looking at the annual results for British bookmaker William Hill, which recently launched its own TV channel, featuring interactive casino games such as roulette.

According to an article in The Sunday Times 'the holy grail for interactive betting groups is gambling via television'. The one page story in the business section concludes 'It cannot be long before the technology develops sufficiently to allow interactive poker on television'.

The technology is not necessarily the limitation, at least in the UK, where the Sky platform is already littered with gaming and gambling opportunities.

This often comes as a something of a surprise to visitors from America, where the legal position is more complex, although they appear to have gambling down to a fine art in Las Vegas.

However, there is growing interest in the opportunities for what has been called 'cash-skill gaming', where prizes are offered for games of skill, including backgammon, quizzes and puzzles, which are apparently legal in most states.

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