Play money app fills temporary market void

With most of the world trying to get through the coronavirus pandemic at home, online poker is booming. So what better time to launch an online gambling app? On Tuesday, KamaGames and Hard Rock International debuted the mobile app Hard Rock Blackjack in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play for Android users.

Now, before you get too excited, Hard Rock Blackjack is play money only, or what KamaGames calls a “social casino app.” Like many play money apps, you can still buy chips with real money, but there is no requirement to do so. Everyone is given free chips to start and there are opportunities to receive free chips each day, along with additional chips for accomplishing various achievements.

KamaGames CEO Andrey Kuznetsov told GamesBeat that there has definitely been an increase in traffic from countries that are in quarantine mode.

“You’ve heard about Las Vegas shutting [down]. And I’m sure casinos in some other jurisdictions will also close their doors or just have limited the events and activity. So it’s a very proper time for casinos to do this and offer something more online for the loyal audience,” Kuznetsov said.

Impressive quality, game selection

After giving Hard Rock Blackjack a spin, I must say, it’s pretty solid. Despite the name, it has all sorts of casino and poker games, making it pretty robust for a free-to-play mobile app. In addition to blackjack, it has slots, roulette, video poker, craps, and baccarat on the casino games side. Slots and video poker offer multiple variations, like you might find in any other online casino.

There are also two poker casino games: Set Poker and Split Bet. Set Poker is KamaGames’ version of 3 Card Poker, while Split Bet is essentially Let It Ride.

Pure poker fans aren’t left out, either, as the app has both Hold’em (called “Texas Poker”) and Omaha cash games, as well as jackpot Sit-and-Go and multi-table tournaments.

All in all, the gameplay is solid. Graphically, it’s pretty impressive for a mobile app. The casino table games are mostly a pseudo-3D, with an animated dealer actually dealing cards and handling chips, rather than cards and chips just moving around as if by magic. It’s fairly realistic-looking. The downside of this is that the games move slower than at traditional online casino sites, as the dealer has to pick up chips, dole out winnings, collect cards, etc.

The poker games aren’t as impressive graphically, but they are still fine. As with any free poker games, the actual competition is terrible, as players go all-in constantly, but that’s to be expected.

Kresimir Spajic, senior vice president of online gaming and sports betting at Hard Rock International, told GamesBeat that while online business is definitely up because of the coronavirus pandemic, he is concerned that it could decline as the weeks go on.

“….most of the activities we do are based on disposable income,” he said. “And in the U.S., almost 60% of the work force is hourly workers. Digital has an advantage, but if this continues, even with lots of people looking for entertainment and something to do online, I think that everybody’s business will suffer if people are out of work.”

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