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Richard Branson Expanding Virgin Gaming iGaming Empire, by Greg Tingle - 20th May 2010

Gaming, gambling and iGaming fans, have we got some news hot of the press for you. Our bat phone has been running hot hot hot!

For the past few months Media Man and Gambling911 have been keeping you updated on all sorts of exciting developments at Richard Branson's Virgin Group, namely Virgin Casino, Virgin Games, Virgin Poker, Virgin Bingo, and offshoot, AWOMO (A World Of My Own), with a DGI (Game Domain International) tie in. Last week Branson's Virgin Racing also sponsored Full Tilt Poker.

Richard Branson will unleash the Virgin return to the video gaming sector at the E3 event in Los Angeles, USA, in June.

We understand that a hard launch is being orchestrated, with Sir Branson, the one and only, in attendance. Can't wait to see what the man and his army wear and what sorts of stunts they have up their sleeve, but Branson isn't usually one to disappoint.

Virgin was one of the most successful brands to have ever competed in the video gaming industry, albeit over a decade ago, but 2010 is looking to be a record breaking year for the brands re birth, pardon the pun.

RB was one of the first pioneers - visionaries to see the massive potential of computer software as a global Virgin entertainment business, establishing Virgin Games in downtown London circa 1984. He later moved the core of the operation to Guernsey which has lower overheads and is understood to be more igaming industry friendly!

A Bit Of History

The company acquired Mastertronic and rolled Sega's Master System across the European region.

Sega Europe continued to power along, then Virgin Interactive Entertainment.

In 1994 it lost its Virginity, being acquired by Blockbuster for a cool $250 million, then was purchased by media powerhouse Viacom (which owns about half the media world).

Virgin Interactive Entertainment reached its financial global revenue peak in 1997, bringing home the bacon to the tune of $210 million.

Circa 94 - 98 it shared market dominance with EA (Electronic Arts).

Virgin saw partners and affiliates come on board including such greats Westwood, Bethesda, Capcom, LucasArts and Disney.

Since 2004 Virgin Games has been V's staple gaming brand, other gaming ventures basically on ice... until now!

The new gaming "start up" (of sorts), expected to go public at E3 will see Virgin pro actively exploring partnerships with publishers, content owners, and you get the idea. The timing looks to be right with 'Avatar' type technologies all the rage, movies being adapted to games in record time, and the availability of broadband internet at reasonable prices.

Internet, console formats and more will see the big V feature red hot games, both classics and newbies. Think Space Invaders to Cleo to Avatar, and their cousins.

Gamers are calling for interactive slot games, tournaments, TV and movie brands, and more casino and poker type experiences, in addition to what they already enjoy.

Insiders expect some sort of firm announcement from Virgin at the expo or soon after re return to the mainstream games market.

Punters, fire up the consoles...Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, multi-player PC gaming and more is just around the corner from the man who brought you Virgin Records, V Festival and Virgin Galactic... be excited... we sure as hell are.

At the moment Americans and Australians are not able to play casino, poker or bingo games at Virgin, however with the expansion of Virgin Games, and the push to clear up any gray areas in regions such as the U.S and down under in Australia, the whole suite of Virgin Games may go global sooner rather than later.

Competitors of sorts, PartyGaming - including PartyCasino and poker brands, Betfair and Centrebet, are all said to be watching this space closely. Australia's Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and News Limited, publisher of The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, are also following for both potential deal opportunities and in a journalistic (journalism) capacity. Foxtel has only just got wind of the news, putting out its own gaming related press release less than 24 hours before this publication.

Yep, gamers and igamers... Tomb Raider, Rome Total War, Cleopatra, Flatout, WarHammer Mark Of Chaos, Pain Killer: Black Edition, maybe even Dan Dare and who knows what surprises will be jumping out of your computer once Team Branson turns on the turbo and blasts off Virgin Galactic style. TNA Wrestling, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bill Goldberg, UFC, NASCAR, F1 and Bull Run are all understood to also want to talk turkey and potential deals with Branson and 'V'.

Marvel Entertainment, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Playtech, IGT, World Poker Tour, WSOP, SKY, Harrah's Entertainment, Trump Casinos, Infinity Ward, Sony and Sega remain tight lipped on the Virgin developments.

Virgin Games, AWOMO (A World Of My Own), bring in on... faster than you can say Virgin Racing Inks Deal With Full Tilt Poker! Read about the life and times of Branson and his world of planes, trains and automobiles (and spaceships) on the Media Man International website portal. Hours of entertainment for free.

Virgin remains one of dozens of corporate tech and communications giants seeking clarity on Australian censorship laws, both online and offline.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a dozen of industry sectors they cover

*The writer is has conducted business with a number of arms of the Virgin Group and is a pro active member of Virgin Unite

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Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English entrepreneur, best known for his Virgin brand of over 360 companies.

Branson's first successful business venture was at age 15, when he published a magazine called Student. He then set up a record mail-order business in 1970. In 1971, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known known as Virgin Megastores and rebranded as zavvi in late 2007.

With his flamboyant and competitive style, Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s - as he set up Virgin Atlantic Airways and expanded the Virgin Records music label.

Today, his net worth is estimated at over £4 billion (US$7.8 billion) according to The Sunday Times Rich List 2006, or US$3.8 billion according to Forbes magazine.

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Media Man congratulates Virgin Blue for their support of many worthy causes including Red Jet Foundation and youth beyondblue

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Media Man director, Greg Tingle, is a pro active member of Virgin Unite

Media Man director, Greg Tingle, does not represent Richard Branson