Endemol Bets On Gaming, Leads $14 Million Round In Social Casino Startup Plumbee

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Endemol, the Netherlands-based TV production house known for game shows like Fear Factor and Deal Or No Deal, is now making a bet on online gambling. The company today announced that it has made a strategic investment of $13 million in social casino startup Plumbee, as it plans to raise its digital profile by investing in online gambling and going beyond the traditional video production business.

Founded by former Playfish executives, Raf Keustermans, Gerald Tan and Jodi Moran, Plumbee started in 2011, and has more than one million monthly active users. Prior to this, Plumbee had raised $2.8 million in funding.

As part of the strategic investment, Endemol will be working with Plumbee to build on its existing digital gaming projects, according to chairman Lucas Church.

“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, whilst capturing more of the value created by our entertainment brands,” Church said in a statement.

The investment comes at a time when we have seen mixed fortunes both for social gaming companies and real-money gaming ventures. Zynga had high hopes for it, but earlier this year, after much lobbying, decided to drop its pursuit for a real-money gaming license in the U.S.

Zynga, of course, hasn’t had the most stellar record of late in social gaming, either. But others like Supercell continue to bring in the punters in droves.

Plumbee, with its Playfish heritage and new focus on a mix of free-to-play and real-money games, wants to tap into both areas. And now Endemol is hoping to cash in on that, too.

Keustermans, the CEO of Plumbee adds: “Endemol will become a strategic shareholder and this will enable us to leverage the company’s international network and globally recognised brands. This will significantly boost the growth of our worldwide user base as we create gaming experiences that stand out from the competition.”

So far, Endemol has been building its digital gaming business internally, mostly by launching gaming apps based on popular shows, and it is making other inroads into pure-play online content. In November, it announced a $40 million investment in Endemol Beyond, a new online video network.

Endemol’s recent digital gaming projects include The Money Drop second screen game, which has so far had over 30 million games played worldwide and The Million Pound Drop app in the UK, which has had over 2.5 million downloads to date.

Idinvest Partners, the existing investors in Plumbee, also participated in this round of funding.