August 7, 2012
Facebook Rolls Dice With Online Gambling
John Neumann for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Are you ready to use real money to play games on Facebook? A new game available from the social network is launching a virtual bingo machine that offers real cash prizes for users in the UK, for now. Facebook insists the games, Bingo & Slots Friendzy, and its controls will prevent anyone aged under 18 from gambling. The move however, is likely to provoke concern from parents whose children spend vast amounts of time on the site.
When a user signs up to Bingo Friendzy, they are asked to enter their personal details and confirm their date of birth, reports Ingrid Lunden for TechCrunch. They are then asked to enter bank account details and make a small deposit to begin playing.
"Despite the game only legally allowed to be played by 18 year-olds, the design of Bingo Friendzy is very childlike — with cute furry animals adorning the app´s Facebook page," writes Emma Barnett, Digital Media Editor for The Telegraph.
The game will not be regulated by the UK gambling commission because Gamesys, an online gambling corporation with whom the games are partnered with is based in Gibraltar.
“Facebook is a place that allows people to connect and share,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch in a statement. “Real money gaming is a popular and well-regulated activity in the UK and we are allowing a partner to offer their games to adult users on the Facebook platform in a safe and controlled manner.”
In some countries like the US the rules against online gambling are very strict and Gamesys is taking all sorts of measures to try to make sure that only those of age will be using the app.
No immediate plans to expand the venture to other markets but Facebook could partner with other companies to launch new games in the UK. Unfortunately many countries outside the UK have more burdensome regulatory regimes for online gambling. The venture into online gambling had long been expected for Facebook, which generates a growing amount of its worldwide revenues from gaming, writes The Guardian´s Josh Halliday.
Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, has said that his company is planning to introduce social gambling next year. Zynga is a close partner of Facebook´s in the world of social games, so this could mean Zynga offering games here as well.
Facebook´s Credits service has not fared as well as hoped. In its last quarterly earnings, the company reported payments revenues of $192 million, but that is barely higher than the $186 million of the quarter prior, or the $188 million before that.
In that context it is not too surprising to see it exploring more avenues – akin to how Facebook is looking for new formats in advertising to bolster that side of the business.