Online poker goes mobile as Bwin signs up phone operators

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The Independent Online

The online poker craze is set to go mobile with the network operator T-Mobile offering British customers access to Bwin's multi-player application

Since it was launched in 2005, PokerRoom has attracted 11 million registered customers over the internet and hopes to replicate that success in the mobile market. Bwin, an Austrian online bookmaker, has signed up mobile gaming specialist Cellectivity to launch PokerRoom over the T-Mobile network, the first time that live multi-player poker has been marketed directly to mobile phone users. The service will guarantee access to poker tables anywhere at anytime. A play-for-fun version will also be launched for those customers put off by the prospect of losing money playing against serious players.

The company is also in talks with other mobile phone operators to launch PokerRoom over rival networks. Mobile phone companies have targeted online gaming as a potentially lucrative source of revenue as customers can lodge a bet, or spend time on mobile internet portals, anywhere at any time. Bwin already offers mobile phone users live odds and betting services in a number of countries.

Customers have previously been able to log on to the normal PokerRoom website using the mobile internet, but the experience has been patchy and expensive to use as the website is not designed to be used on a handset. Cellectivity has tailored the new service to work on a mobile handset to ensure customers do not become frustrated during poker games.

Britons are Europe's biggest gamblers, spending roughly £17bn a year placing bets. Online poker has proved one of the fastest-growing areas of internet gambling with millions of players spending hours online pitting their wits against unknown rivals. The success of the service has helped offset the impact of the US crackdown on online gaming companies that have been forced to look toward new services, such as online bingo, to stimulate growth.

The mobile phone offers online gaming companies an opportunity to attract more casual users that might not traditionally spend time in bookies or on gaming websites.

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