Air Transport World

A 'mortal lock' for airlines. (in-flight gambling systems)

In-flight gaming equipment vendors offer free installation on airliners with no down time and to pay for the extra weight

Amsterdam--After decades of providing visual and aural in-flight entertainment virtually free of charge, there is a near-term promise of a payback for the industry from passengers' whiling away the hours on increasingly lengthy nonstops playing poker, blackjack, slots and other games of chance on seatback or seat-arm video screens. The information that in-flight gambling is ready to go sent executives of more than 80 airlines away from the 16th annual conference of the World Airline Entertainment Assn. with dollar signs in their eyes.

Obviously, each deal between airline and system provider will be different but opinion here was that the take from money wagered could be as high as 50% for the airlines. Forecasts by some vendors put the annual earning power of a Boeing 747 fitted with interactive video-on-demand systems--the buzzphrase of this meeting--at $2 million, $1 million of which will be generated by gambling.

Credit card companies talk of setting a maximum of $350 in betting money per customer per flight--which would include multisectors--and a limit of 10 times that amount on winnings. Interactive Entertainment Ltd., owned by casino operator Harrah's Entertainment and software supplier Sky Games International, said the package it is offering to airlines will allow passengers to wager their frequent-flier miles.

Among the airlines, Alitalia appears to have gone furthest down this road. Shortly before the WAEA meeting, it obtained U. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.