Virgin launches Virgin Games
By abigail
Virgin is pairing up with technology company WagerWorks to enter a new product into the online gambling market. The new undertaking will be led by Simon Burridge, previously a managing partner of advertising agency J Walter Thompson and Oscar Nieboer a former vice-president of MGM Mirage online. This latest venture launched today, Virgin Games, is Virgin’s first outing into this industry sector since the unsuccessful attempt to take over the management of the UK National Lottery in 2000.

Burridge has explained further the aim of the project, which intends to concentrate on an entertainment angle, rather than a purely financial focus; “Most websites have a rarified offer for the few rather than an entertainment-based offer for the many. Too much of it is about money rather than entertainment, and that’s where we hope to score. We see ourselves as an entertainment brand rather than a gambling brand.” He also cited the findings that housewives are a steadily increasing demographic for the online gambling industry, as a solid example of why this entertainment-based strategy is a strong pull in a busy marketplace, “It’s aimed at those who want to spend half an hour having fun while not having to risk too much money. It’s about giving people an enjoyable time even if they lose.”

Despite this focus, the Virgin site will be hosting traditional gambling games such as poker, bingo, black jack, roulette and slots, and is hoping to find a partner who will enable them to also offer the option of sports betting. The company has secured a fixed-odds betting license in Britain, as well as a casino license in Alderney and the Channel Islands.

WagerWorks will be sharing future profits of the site, thanks to the outlay they have made in the investment in back-end systems, but the business will be wholly owned by Virgin. It is thought that links will be made between the gambling site and other Virgin brands, as players could earn Virgin airmiles, or points which could be used in purchasing Virgin wines, or train tickets. As Virgin are also currently the only UK airline to offer direct flights to Las Vegas, it is also on the cards that flight passengers may also be able to play Virgin Games during flights on the airline. Although this new brand for Virgin is a significant entry into the gambling industry, Simon Burridge did point out that there are no future plans for expanding the online arm by developing any land casinos for the company.

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