November 2, 2006 6:01 AM PST

Ryanair gambles on Internet bingo in the sky

Ryanair, a European budget airline, is planning to launch online bingo and gaming next year following the introduction of its in-flight mobile phone service for passengers.

Passengers will be able to use their mobile phones and other handheld devices on flights to play Ryanair's online bingo and a number of other instant-win games that will offer jackpots in excess of $380,000 (200,000 pounds).

The launch of the in-flight online gambling service, however, is dependent on European regulatory approval for Ryaniar's mobile phone service. The service is due to launch by the middle of 2007 and will allow passengers to make and receive voice calls and SMS messages via satellite broadband links.

A Ryanair representative told the in-flight online bingo plans are still "in the pipeline," pending regulatory approval.

To help promote next year's launch of the in-flight gambling service, Ryanair has this week teamed up with U.K. online bingo operator to launch Ryanair bingo and other games on the airline's own Web site. During the first week all Ryanair customers who play any of the online games will receive a free flight.

Andy McCue of reported from London.

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