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Charles Harper
Charles Harper

SAN FRANCISCO–At the casino track of this week’s Casual Connect conference, real-money gambling is one of the big questions hanging over the burgeoning social gambling industry.

With Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware all having recently legalized real-money online games, developers are wondering when that same opportunity will be extended across the US.

Charles Harper, DoubleDown’s Director of Business Development, says that he thinks real-money gambling authorized and regulated at the federal level is around the corner, for a given definition of around the corner.

“I think it’s imminent, but I think they’re going to wait and see how some of the states implement it before anybody will take that jump,” Harper said. “I’m going to say one to three years (from now).”

At the same time, Harper stressed that while real-money gambling is coming, it doesn’t seem to be a big priority on a national level at the moment.

“I think that the federal government will eventually do it, but I don’t think they’re feeling a huge rush right now,” he said.

That lack of motivation, coupled with a complicated patchwork of inconsistent state-by-state regulation, has made it difficult for gaming companies to easily build a real-money strategy. For the most part, large players in the market seem to be skirting real-money offerings, rather than diving in.

Zynga recently announced that it had abandoned plans to expand its real-money social casino offerings to the U.S. and is instead focusing on other parts of its business.

GameHouse announced yesterday that they’ll be holding a monthly cash sweepstakes that people can earn entries to through its GameHouse Casino Plus offering. Since it’s the prize is earned through the sweepstakes and not technically gambling, the company is able to offer a cash prize in 31 states as of this month.

When asked about whether or not DoubleDown has any plans for moving into the real-money gambling space in the US, Harper said that being owned by casino game maker IGT puts DoubleDown in an interesting place.

“You know what? We work for a company that does it already, so I’d argue that we’re already there. Is there going to be a DoubleDown (real-money gambling) app? I can’t speak to that, and that’s not an ‘it’s coming,’ or anything like that.”

Previously on GeekWire: The largest social poker tournament ever is happening online and in a casino simultaneously

Editor’s note: DoubleDown is a GeekWire annual sponsor.

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