Is it reasonable to wonder whether the idea of starting up a business based upon something unique and innovative is becoming the default ethos and success narrative for small businesses? Let’s not forget that many small businesses may be rehashing a known or even staid concept or plan, and yet doing it differently. Very conventional business plans would seem unworthy of the moniker “startup,” and yet somehow if an unsurprisingly plan is being bootstrapped this might qualify it for the hip distinction (maybe simply because doing more with less capital takes ingenuity).
Online Gaming is one sector where these two seeming polarities of innovation and feasibility may converge as out of the box, turnkey startups.
A Game with Morphing Rules
We’re not hinting at the franchise type of business that has proven itself undeniably prolific and workable in the brick-and-mortar world. Since the Internet is an opportune entrepreneurial space, it is entirely possible that we may enter the era in which people can use stock templates and platforms to craft a new business that nevertheless provides plenty of growing room and ways to customize — to the point of almost entirely camouflaging the fact that the business started in a stock way. In this case the creativity of wielding the toolkit and paintbox, as it were, could reach startup dimensions. For example, imagine the dawn of mom-and-pop online casinos and real cash bingo sites.
Since the mid-90s the development and growth of technologies and even the regulatory frameworks for Web-powered gambling have moved forward at an unsurprisingly clip, given the perennial popularity of such games. Aside from the needed technical evolution, perhaps the greater hurdle for this industry was public perception and lingering associations of poker, blackjack, roulette and rooms full of slot machines with mafia-backed mega casinos in Vegas or elsewhere. Similar image problems attached to race tracks, or betting on sports, with their lurking shadows of bookies, spreads, and operators. But the Web versions of these classic forms of entertainment have changed all those perceptual pitfalls — while lighter games such as electronic bingo or lotto-style scratch cards or slots may even seem pretty harmless (they are usually packaged together).
In fact, the lighter form of gambling that is enabled and handled by computers arguably has been converting itself into something trusted, something with the appearance of veritable fairness, something that can be mainstream. And online bingo rooms have become rather mainstream, especially in markets like the UK, within the EU, and even parts of the US (such as in Nevada and New Jersey where iGaming and e-casinos are ramping up in the wake of new rounds of legalization and licensing).
So, all of this sets the stage for not only mega brands like Virgin Games or Caesar’s Palace, but also a sea of smaller sites devising creative concepts and designs that are driven in large part by affiliate models and licensing arrangements. The gaming provider supplies all of the backend technology and user accounting, including the banking tools — leaving the proprietor to concentrate on branding, promotions, marketing, and customer services.
Veering off the Script
With the final facet of secure, private online banking coming by way of numerous alternatives to using credit and debit cards (including PayPal gambling services in some markets such as the UK), home-grown gaming sites can get busy with the artistic aspects of hosting and promoting a powerful new form of entertainment. The mobile bingo market is booming, both at standalone Web venues as well as inside Facebook or as native apps. Launching a gaming brand (leveraging licensed content — so there is no need to reinvent the wheel) may be one of the best examples of a business model that combines a solid, tested groundwork with limitless ways for proprietors to get crazy and creative while selling their ‘wares.
Convenience in extreme forms is driving ever more people to try games like mobile bingo, such as being able to play for real cash without even braving an online credit card transaction: instead, it is possible to top-up a bingo or casino account balance by just charging a micro-payment to one’s bingo phone bill. This and other amazing developments mean that the products offered by a small scale gaming business will literally sell themselves. Much of the marketing and allure that players follow into participating originates as word of mouth, and even happens in social networking environments, which add further measures of trust. All told, the automated and highly regulated nature of contemporary real cash gaming such as bingo opens up a new world of entrepreneurship for those who realize that the business concept allows for a large degree of individuality and inventiveness.