Facebook is entering the world of online gambling with its first real-money application. The social networking website has made the app, Bingo Friendzy, available to users over the age of 18 in the UK.
“Gambling is very popular and well regulated in the U.K. … for millions of bingo users it’s already a social experience [so] it makes sense [for us] to offer that as well,” said Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s head of gaming for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The application, created in partnership with Gamesys, will give users the chance to win cash prizes by playing Bingo. Slot machines will soon be added to the game.
While adding online gambling to their roster of applications seems like the logical next move for Facebook, there are a few things to consider. The UK does indeed have a well-regulated gambling industry, but the same is not necessarily true for the rest of the world. In the U.S., for instance, real-money social gaming has been completely restricted until very recently. Some states have started opening those doors, however, regulators are facing a few challenges with state and federal laws, as well as the technical aspects.
“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,” said Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association in London. “A lot of people have said why haven’t they done it before because there’s a difficulty in monetizing what they have – this is one way of bringing in revenues.”
Facebook is also only rolling out the application to users who are at least 18-years-old. However, lying about age on Facebook is fairly common, giving many underage teens a free-pass to online gambling. While the same can be said for any online gambling website (lying about age online isn’t exactly rocket science), the sheer popularity of Facebook makes this a cause for concern.
Codorniou said Facebook is currently in talks with other gambling companies to add more real-money game apps to the social network.
What do you think of Facebook entering the gambling market?
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