Tuesday August 7,2012 : FACEBOOK TO OFFER REAL MONEY ONLINE GAMBLING
Venture launches in UK with 18 year age restriction
Social gaming giant Facebook has taken the plunge into online gambling for real money – but only in the UK at present, and only for punters aged over 18 years, according to a report in Tuesday's Financial Mail.
British users aged 18 and over are being offered the opportunity to play online bingo for cash prizes. Slot machine games will be added in the coming weeks, the respected newspaper reports.
Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s head of gaming for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told the FT: “Gambling is very popular and well regulated in the UK … for millions of bingo users it’s already a social experience [so] it makes sense [for us] to offer that as well.”
The news settles long time speculation on whether Facebook and other social networking sites would introduce real money gambling products to boost revenues.
The FT points out that Zynga, Facebook’s largest gaming partner, is hoping to introduce real-money gambling versions of its poker, bingo and slot machine games in 2013.
For now and the foreseeable future, the US legal and political climate precludes Facebook making similar moves in its home nation, but there are a number of European countries that now have formalised online gambling regulatory regimes.
Clive Hawkswood, the CEO of trade body the Remote Gaming Association, described the Facebook move as a significant development, telling the Financial Times:
“Bingo is at the softer end of the gambling spectrum and online bingo often has chat forums alongside so it’s an obvious match for Facebook. A lot of people have said why haven’t they done it before because there’s a difficulty in monetising what they have – this is one way of bringing in revenues.”
Facebook will launch the Bingo Friendzy app in a joint venture with Gamesys, one of the UK’s largest online gambling operators, to target the social network’s large online audience.
“We are a distribution platform for Gamesys – they have the games and we bring the audience,” said Codorniou.
He said Facebook was in discussions with other gambling companies about expanding its offerings which could include casino games such as blackjack and roulette, but he said “nothing concrete” had been agreed.