Activision bets on gambling?

Activision CEO Robert Kotick calls wagering in games the "Holy Grail" of the business, says "it will happen eventually" but not anytime soon.


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Gaming is more than just moving Mario around the screen to save a princess, saving the Earth from the Covenant, or driving down a virtual football field for a virtual Super Bowl title. Ask what "gaming" means in Nevada, the Caribbean, or Monte Carlo and there will be an entirely different definition.

Traditionally, gaming of the joystick variety and gaming of the gambling ilk haven't crossed paths. But with the onset of online play, new avenues of gambling-based revenue could easily open up for traditional publishers.

Speaking before investors at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XV conference today, Activision CEO Robert Kotich was asked to what extent gambling will be part of the future of networked games.

Kotick replied, "There's great opportunity for wagering eventually... There's probably lots of opportunities to figure out how to develop prize play [and] cash play as a future growth opportunity. You're going to need a big installed base, and a very different regulatory climate. And that's going to take some time."

With each next-gen console having integrated networking capabilities, Kotick sees gaming for dollars as not just possible, but inevitable.

"When you think about the Holy Grail of the video game business, organized competition for prize play and cash play is going to be the floodgate of opportunity for new audiences," he said. "And it will happen eventually, but I wouldn't expect it anytime soon."

Online gambling has boomed in the past several years, particularly online poker on sites like and Activision is already cashing on the trend in one way, releasing the online-enabled World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions this week on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and PC.

However, online gambling remains illegal in the US, which means most online casinos are based in foreign countries--an option not availalbe to the Los Angeles-based Actvision. Kotick's "regulatory climate" comment was also likely a reference to the federal government's ongoing crackdown on online gambling. So far this year, several executives of foreign online gambling services have been arrested while visiting the US on charges of taking bets illegally over the Internet.

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Avatar image for Mkeegs79

OH MY GOD! All the people whining about it can ruin lifes are LIBERALS! Get real! I grown man or woman should make the choose themselves. Its not happening yet so stop whining! I have made plenty of bets and I lost many but I didnt lose my life. Yeah, some people are not responsible but some idiot who doesnt know when to quit should NEVER affect me IN ANY WAY OR FORM!!!!!

Avatar image for Sydwynder

fenriz 275 hit the nail on the head. Make no mistake, gaming companies want your money, nothing more. You owe it to yourself and the industry to not buy crap games, but do buy the good ones.

Avatar image for hodayathink

If they could have a way to conclusively determine the age of someone playing online, then I have absolutely no problem with this. That is my only issue, and it is a problem that many internet based companies (*cough MySpace cough*) have had.

Avatar image for jonesmiller

I´m gonna buy stocks

Avatar image for Mr_Saturn26

uh, if actifvision makes the game, and someone wins big say, uh 5 mil and others win big, wouldent this run it to the ground with activision paying all the winnings? Sure Gambling online on a console would be big, but no playin with real money pleese,that way the kids can play, and not have to worry about the accidentel gambling with real money thing.

Avatar image for deactivated-586cbea17e099

As long as people are aware that gambling is involved in the game.. no harm no foul...

Avatar image for fenriz275

Why doesn't Activision just come out and admit that they'd sell crack if they could figure out a way to get away with it.

Avatar image for truevar

Gabmling.....great......... more destroyed lives... gambling should be illegal

Avatar image for Mych53

I'm torn on this issue. I believe that people should have the right to gamble, but it should be done in a responsible manner. It is the "responsible manner" part that I am worried about. This could be good for the industry, giving games a new edge, or it could be really bad. If it does happen, it will have to be heavily regulated

Avatar image for Rando1017

ceasarbites is exactly right. If your stupid enough to put your whole life on the line then you deserve to lose it. I am a responsible gambler, and it makes me sick to think that I could lose my right to play just because there are some idiots out there incapable of managing their own lives by themselves.

Avatar image for JLCrogue

Stupid U.S. government and their regulation of the internet!! :evil:

Avatar image for Cartman86

Of course this will happen. This is yet another thing that anybody with brains could conclude. We already basically have it in MMOs.

Avatar image for mattxavier


Avatar image for bigdrew172

I think it would draw a whole new crowd into gaming. It just would be really hard to regulate. It is already easy enough for underaged kids to gamble online. So i'm not really sure where I stand on the issue

Avatar image for Pablo620

Gambling is bad and i dont want it in video games. Then Jack Thompson WILL ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING TO TALK about

Avatar image for CyphenX

Ture, but gambling is very addictive and because it has the power to draw in the weak and keep them there, it needs to be regulated. Placing small bets on games can make things WAY more exciting/intense/fun, but I'm opposed to any large-scale gambling services.

Avatar image for caesarbites

Boohoo, gambling ruins lives... :roll: It only ruins the lives of people who don't know when to stop. Have some self-control. I guess since cars ruin lives in the hands of a bad driver then no one should be able to own a car either? Ridiculous...

Avatar image for pandapunkrock

As an avid poker player, I would LOVE to see real money gaming come to consoles. The graphics on the computer gaming sites (Bodog, FullTilt, Pokerstars, etc.) are pretty boring so I wouldn't mind seeing something cool coming out like Stacked, but with real money enabled. Plus, just think of all the fish that would be in that kind of sea... As for you people who don't like to gamble, just don't play. Simple.

Avatar image for comthitnuong

not another one....

Avatar image for Gruug

Hope online gambling stays illegal here in the US. I have seen far too many lives ruined by people that try to make a quick killing but end up losing big instead. Remember, the odds in any sort of gambling are always stacked in the house's favor.

Avatar image for ColdZero54

Real money gambling sites can't come out in the US for the reasons they stated in the article: It's illegal. There's too much chance for fraud and people to loose money from blackouts or power surges. And if foreign companies, like Ubisoft or some in Japan or Korea, did make a poker, craps or blackjack game for real money, they would be afraid to come to the US for E3 and other gaming related confrences and it would hurt their business in the end. Could it happen? Yeah, i just don't see it happening for a long, long time.

Avatar image for Kreestas

I wouldnt be surprised if a poker game came out and you could bet real money.

Avatar image for Ryvvn

If Microsoft Marketplace Points are supposed to be "fake money", could it technically be legal to use them in a gambling format? Like playing Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Pogs or any other collectable game where items are being wagered instead of cash would Microsoft Points be considered a currency of sorts or a paid for item that is allowed to be exchanged for other items. Considering the digital and virtual nature of MS points, I wonder if Microsoft could actually argue this effectively and get gambling on to Xbox Live. I for one would gladly welcome it, I love betting on random things.

Avatar image for blackthegame


Avatar image for DreamworkS12

Of course! Gambling in video games hasn't become outlawed......... yet.

Avatar image for veracity024

ya i already bet my friends i can beat them in any FPS they put in front of me. . . still rakin in the cash

Avatar image for FRoStYisGoD

u can win just its pretty much nearly imposible

Avatar image for Berserker_2

Gambling is evil. It is mathematically impossible to win. It should be outlawed.

Avatar image for limpbizkit818

I guess it is kinda a cool idea. Why go out of your house when you can just bet online!

Avatar image for GMAN32X

Depending on any future Congressional action, such a venture could very well be illegal.