Endemol Bets Big on Social Casino Startup Plumbee

The production house behind "Deal or No Deal" and "The Money Drop" invests $13 million in the online gambling site.

Television production giant Endemol, whose programs include game shows Deal or No Deal and The Money Drop, has plopped down $13 million on social casino startup Plumbee in a bid to extend its online and mobile gaming business.

Endemol put up the cash as part of Plumbee's latest investment round. The round, which also included the startup's existing investor, Idinvest Partners, values Plumbee at $40 million.

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Endemol and Plumbee said they work together to create casino games, many of them based on Endemol's existing TV formats, across multiple platforms. Plumbee, which launched in October, 2011, is best known for its flagship Mirrorball Slots games, which, by the company's own admission, is among the top 10 highest grossing social casino games on Facebook.

Social Casino games use the free-to-play model common in online gaming in which the games are free to play but players can purchase virtual credits in order to unlock more features and get upgrades, gifts and bonuses.

The London-based Plumbee employs more than 50 people. Endemol is already active in the digital gaming space with second screen apps for hit shows such as The Money Drop and Big Brother. 

Said Lucas Church, chair of Endemol's Group Commercial Board: "Social casino gaming is a fast emerging market, and Plumbee is one of the most innovative and dynamic operators in this space. This new partnership will allow us to accelerate the growth of Endemol's digital gaming business around the world, [while] capturing more of the value created by our entertainment brands."

Online gaming is the new frontier for established television production companies as they look to better leverage their established brands and generate profits even as their core customers -- international broadcasters -- continue to squeeze commission fees.