Interactive TV Executives Turn to Online Gambling to Survive
By Linda
Europe's interactive-TV companies--many of which are in financial crisis -- are looking for `killer apps,’ and some are already turning to gambling.

”Take the tie-up between France's Pari Mutuel Urbain horse-racing monopoly and the country's two leading interactive-TV services, CanalSatellite and Télévision Par Satellite.

“Since the services were launched in 2000, some 70,000 punters have signed up and spent more than $92 million at the virtual track. Similar satellite-TV services are on tap in Sweden, Italy, and Portugal.”

British researcher Schema figures 84% of e-betting this year will take place over the conventional Web, but by 2005, nearly a third of it will happen via mobile phones or interactive TV. Money from such services is manna for wireless operators, who face sagging average revenues per customer and need sexy services to drive demand for their expensive new 3G networks.

”To be sure, online gambling faces big obstacles. Foremost among them: vast variation within Europe on its legality. Britain has adopted the most liberal approach and `could shortly offer the best environment for online gambling companies in the world,’ says Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Andrew Burnett.

”In most countries, either online gambling is banned, or only state-sanctioned activities such as lotteries are permitted.

”Another problem is fraud. In the U.S., banks and credit-card companies increasingly refuse to process transactions from e-casinos.

”No matter what happens, entrepreneurs will likely find ways around the roadblocks.”

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