ExpressVu gambles on interactive casino channel

Casino and Gaming Television, the first 24/7 gambling network, is launching in Canada via Bell ExpressVu in May and will act as a test for the Los Angeles-based specialty prior to its U.S. introduction later this year.

Casino and Gaming Television, the first 24/7 gambling network, is launching in Canada via Bell ExpressVu in May and will act as a test for the Los Angeles-based specialty prior to its U.S. introduction later this year.

The Canadian enterprise – CGTV Canada – is a joint venture of CGTV and Toronto’s Boardwalk Gaming and Entertainment (BGE), a division of Kilmer Group, a private investment holding company controlled by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum.

Programming will be a blend of international and domestic fare with casino lifestyle offerings as well as gambler makeover shows and chorus girl searches. Some of the shows scheduled are Main Stage, major stage extravaganzas such as Penn and Teller and Cirque du Soleil with exclusive behind-the-scenes features; Second Stage, smaller stage shows; Sammy Maudlin at the Movies, with Joe Flaherty as his SCTV character hosting a night of B flicks; and Indulgence, tours of resorts, spas, and shopping.

Those will a passion for gambling will have their fever fed with shows such as C.G.U. (Casino Gaming University), which teaches the ABCs of gambling with theory, demonstrations and classroom field trips and CGTV Sports Book, a look at the world of sports betting and what the oddsmakers say.

CGTV and BGE will also develop interactive programming such as interactive bingo and keno in addition to other original programming.

The reasoning behind the development of the network, according to CGTV, is that Americans now spend more on gaming than on movies, videos and DVDs, music and books combined – and that market has been growing at an average of 9% a year since 1991. CGTV says the gaming market is US$50 billion south of the border alone.

Other CGTV factoids:

- More than 25% of adult Americans visited a casino in 2003;

- Americans made nearly three times as many trips to casinos as to both major and minor league baseball games or NBA basketball games; and

- 81% of Americans 50+ say gaming is acceptable for themselves or others while those aged 21 to 39 support it at a rate of up to 90%.

According to Statistics Canada, three-quarters of adult Canadians spent money on some form of gambling in 2002: an estimated 18.9 million adult Canadians wagered $11.3 billion on everything from VLTs (video lottery terminals), lottery tickets and bingos to blackjack and slot machines in casinos. This is four times the $2.7 billion spent on gambling a decade earlier.

BGE and its investors and partner companies are the largest operators of charitable gaming centres in North America, including 31 bingo centres in Ontario and British Columbia. BGE also owns Boardwalk Media, formerly Stuart Broadcasting, a Secured Virtual Private Network (VPN) broadcast and production company that links gaming facilities across North America.