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By avoiding flashy banner ads and copying the idea of a playlist from music software, London-based Gambolio hopes to take on an already crowded market of flash gaming portals.

Gambolio (from the word “gambol,” meaning “to skip about in play”) quietly solicited feedback over Twitter last month after launching a public alpha. A more polished beta version of the site launched today.

Founder Alex Kearns bills Gambolio as the “iTunes for online games,” which reminds me of when Kongregate called itself the “YouTube of games.” It’s a serviceable hook, given Gambolio’s playlist features. Before or during any game, registered players can add titles to their personal libraries. From there, games are automatically categorized by genre, and players can drag and drop titles into custom playlists as well.

It’s a neat feature, but Gambolio’s biggest draw is its simple presentation. The black background and complete lack of display ads make for stark contrast to the likes of Miniclip and AddictingGames, whose flashy banners cause immediate sensory overload. Best of all, games can be maximized to fit the browser window. To its credit, Gambolio doesn’t look like a generic flash game portal.

For revenue, Gambolio presents video ads before each game, courtesy of MochiAds, which also provides the games. Some ads play for 15 seconds, while others have an interactive element that can be skipped once that part of the ad begins. Gambolio gets 10 percent of the ad revenue, and game developers get up to 50 percent.

As for the actual games, there are currently over 8,000, and from my time with the site, many of them are pulled from other sites. In particular, logos and splash screens for Kongregate appeared in a good number of the games I tried (Kearns estimates there are roughly 100 games from Kongregate). Because this is effectively an ad for the competition, Gambolio would be wise to solicit some first-run titles, as the site’s agreement with MochiAds provides games for free but doesn’t allow the modification of splash screens.

Like most flash game portals, some games are solid gold and others are best avoided. A light amount of community input, in the form of five-star ratings, separates the wheat from the chaff. There’s also a convenient search function that helps to comb through Gambolio’s library.

Gambolio falls under the umbrella of Webalon, Kearns’ Web design and development agency whose past clients include BMW and Heineken. Kearns invested roughly $2,000 of his own savings into the site and is handling most of the work himself. His wife is helping with administration and marketing.

If the overhead stays that low, Gambolio could have a shot at success. That depends, I think, on whether the glitz of other sites makes enough gamers search for something simpler.