Sunday December 4,2011 : UK problem gambling bodies concerned at the prospect of social gaming giant entering internet gambling sector
Britain's mass circulation newspaper The Daily Mail has picked up on the news that Facebook is considering involvement in the real money online gambling sector and has been obtaining reactions from interested parties.
The report reprises the news that Facebook has been investigating the possibilities and hosted a dinner in London last week for a group of industry people, and points to the appeal that the UK would have as a test bed project.
The newspaper, not renowned for its support of internet gambling, goes on to point out that there is a danger of introducing the underaged to gambling, reporting: "More than 3 million Facebook users in the UK are aged between 13 and 17. A further million are estimated to be under 13 but pretending to be older."
Interviewed by the Mail, Dr Robert Lefever, founding director of the Promis Recovery Centre which treats addicts, said: “Introducing gambling to Facebook is a cynical way for the gambling industry to find new markets, making gambling look acceptable.
"There will be young people who think these games have Facebook approval, that you can gamble and it’s fun. It’s not – gambling destroys families."
Labour MP Louise Ellman expressed concern that the initiative could impact the underaged and vulnerable. "Children spend hours on Facebook and parents need to be confident that it is a safe environment," she said.
Lauri Moyle, of Christian Action Research Education (CARE), said: “Because there is a link between the age when people start gambling and the likelihood of developing a difficulty controlling their gambling, protecting children from the normalisation of gambling is vital."
Professor Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University, told the newspaper: "Even when no money changes hands, young children are learning the mechanics of gambling. These games can be a gateway to more serious gambling."
Approached by the Mail for comment, Facebook stayed with the statement it has issued to other media, saying: "We are always in discussions with companies about lots of different ideas, but we don’t comment on future plans or speculation."