Betfair Explores Online Social Networking


Boosting the business through Web 2.0

Industry sources are abuzz at the news expected later today (Monday) that online gambling giant Betfair's Australian operations are about to make a major investment in the social networking provider Watercooler, an Internet start-up that has registered 26 million users in only two years.

Watercooler offers some 600 online applications, mostly for American sports teams, where its members can exchange views on favourite games and players.

Millions of English football fans are currently using Watercooler applications on Facebook. Watercooler makes its money from advertising, subscriptions to premium content, such as live score tallies and sports merchandise.

Sources indicate that Betfair will likely to use the Watercooler technology to introduce more social features to its online presence.

Betfair has more than 2.5 million registered customers in 140 countries and pioneered exchange betting, later moving into othr online gambling sectors. The betting firm processes more than six million transactions a day, employs over 400 computer engineers and has an wokforce of over 1 600. The cmpay also owns the massive US-based horseracing wagering business TVG, and has invested more than $177 million in new games and technology in recent years.

In August this (2009) year the group reported a 29 percent jump in underlying earnings to $127 million in the year to the end of April, from revenues that soared 27 percent.

Betfair's involvement in Watercooler is as a leading investor in a US$5.5 million cash-injection exercise designed to fund further development of fantasy sports and social gaming on Facebook and similar Web 2.0 platforms.

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