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Though not exactly out cold, more like swaying on the ropes from the battering that it took in the US, the online gaming industry has woken up with the aid of some alternative smelling salts in the form of new territories and new developments to a fresh bout of opportunity and optimism.
One could say that it has ridden the punches and is now ready for the next battle. The start of which could be the conference deftly entitled Bite the Bullet which is to be held in London on the 6 th and 7 th of December, where much of the future of the gaming industry will be discussed.
The consensus of opinion is that gaming in all its forms has been hit and hit hard but it will recover, it is now looking at ways in which to do this.
Where as before the pot of gold was open to all who could visualize it, the reality is that it will become only accessible to those who consolidate their companies and who amalgamate. This smacks of a cartel, which the industry must avoid at all costs.
The conference will seek to maintain the status quo where possible but also look to expand new territories and new development in gaming. Already diversification in the forms of new markets and industries has begun.
Take for example Ryan Air the low cost Irish airline who actively promotes bingo on their web site, which is designed for reservations and information. There is even talk or experiments in providing online games on board these aircraft, perhaps this could be one way for US gaming companies to remain online or at least 'air line' operating outside US borders from 30,000 feet up, with no restriction on transactions being applicable. But that is a costly exercise and would only warrant such an investment if the casinos or the online sites could afford it.
This sort of speculative idea will probably not be on the agenda at the conference, but what will be is the need to create fresh impetus in territories such as the Far East and Europe, which seem to be relatively unscathed by protectionism and draconian laws.
In recent weeks Bingo the one time past time of bored housewives and the unemployed has evolved into a very accessible and very playable alternative to poker, as has backgammon. Which has taken the place of poker as the game of the gamblers in the USA; as more core poker players transfer their attention to backgammon.
Consequently online pots and tournament prizes have improved to attract even better and more sophisticated poker players to the game. In just under a month the fortunes of backgammon have increased again and again.
Bite the Bullet couldn't really have come at a better time and attendance of the event is sure to be high. For the gaming industry it marks the first acknowledgement that something needs to be done to keep the industry alive and profitable, yes it's hurting but it is far from finished no matter what the evangelists of doom are predicting.
How can that be when the sum total of poker takings in 2005 amounted to some $60 billion? Could any company, country or individual just let that go?
I don't think so, and that's just one element, poker! Think of all the other revenue that comes from all the other forms of gambling both on and offline.
The recognition by the UK government that gambling online is welcome in the UK, flies in the face of its American cousin and is possibly one of the biggest
differences that the two powers have. If the UK jumps into bed with the gaming industry, then how long will it be before the US wants to get back in?
Bite the Bullet must address all of these issues and its delegates must look to resolve what is at the heart of the gaming industry and what lies ahead.
It has taken the standing count of 8 it now is back on its feet ready to fight again.
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