One if By Land Two if Online.Don’t be a Square
Perhaps it’s a sign that the internet gambling industry has come of age that more and more terrestrial casinos are dragging themselves into the 21st Century by establishing some form of online gaming presence. This is certainly the beginning of an ongoing trend, with cross-promotional deals between internet and land based operations increasing, and establishments such as The Bicycle Casino launching play for prizes sites.
UK site Blue Square (www.bluesq.com), however, decided to do things the other way around. Blue Square launched in May 1999, as an internet and telephone betting operation. It now offers Interactive TV and WAP betting, as well as a casino and poker room, and has risen to become one of the largest interactive gambling operations in the UK. In January 2003 it was acquired by Rank, one of the UK’s leading leisure and entertainment companies, and owner of the Hard Rock Café chain of restaurants, for $121 million. Rank said that, last year, Blue Square proved to be the company’s ‘saviour’, after its restaurant and café chain dragged its profits down.
In January 2004, the successful cyber bookie decided to invade the high street, launching a series of ‘bricks and mortar’ bookmaking shops around Britain, the first online operation ever to do. The shops, however, retain some of that internet gaming feel, with the emphasis on fixed-odds, interactive betting terminals, where customers can bet on a series of games, including virtual horseracing and roulette, for big prizes.
Despite the foray into the ‘real’ world, however, Blue Square’s online presence remains first class – a real all round ‘gaming station’. In August 2004 they launched a casino, followed a month later by a poker room that’s really worth checking out. Blue Square Poker benefits from Tribeca Tables beautifully smooth software and razor sharp graphics and takes bets in anything from US dollars to Japanese Yen. There’s a great range of games on offer too, such as six handed cash games and tournaments galore. The casino offers all your favorite table games, plus video poker and some wildly inventive slots.