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Facebook officially enters online gambling market
Facebook officially enters online gambling market
August 7, 2012 | By Mike Rose

August 7, 2012 | By Mike Rose
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    17 comments
More: Social/Online, Business/Marketing



Facebook took a big step into the world of online gambling today, with the launch of the first ever real-money gambling game on the social network website.

Bingo Friendzy, developed by online bingo operator Gamesys, is currently only available to play in the UK for users age 18 and over, while a real-money slot machine game is also coming in the next few weeks.

Before now, Facebook users have only been able to use virtual currency to gamble in games, with PopCap one of the latest studios to enter Facebook's growing casino game market.

According to the Financial Times, Julien Codorniou, Facebook's head of gaming for Europe, Middle East and Africa, explained, "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."

Codorniou also noted that Facebook is currently in talks with other gambling companies about expanding the real-money opportunities on Facebook, including blackjack and roulette-based titles.

The news follows social game giant Zynga's own announcement a couple of weeks ago that it is planning to enter the real-money gambling market during the first half of 2013.


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Comments


Adam Learmonth
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Go on then - someone enlighten me as to how they're going to prevent under-18s from playing, since they're utterly incapable of preventing under-13s from using Facebook in the first place.

Joe Wreschnig
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I don't know the legal vagaries in the UK, but growing up middle-class in America, many of my peers had credit cards at least a couple years before 18.

Today prepaid cards could be purchased at any large grocery store.

That requirement provides zero barrier to entry.

Joe Wreschnig
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I'm pretty sure Adam's point was not about the fact minors are risking their (yes, usually relatively small) savings, but that offering gambling opportunities to minors is *illegal* and they seem to have no way to vet this.

I said "legal vagaries in the UK" because the article is about a game debuting in the UK. I was not guessing where you live.

Please try to keep the context of what you're replying to in mind.

Joe Wreschnig
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Hrm, when an account in the middle of a conversation gets deleted, Gamasutra comments get very confusing.

Tyler King
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lol just thought you might like arguing with yourself :D

E McNeill
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How regulated are the mechanics of real-money gambling games?

I'm afraid of where this might go in talented hands. It's bingo and slots and roulette right now, but what will it become once people start adding the viral/behavioral elements of social games and start A/B split testing everything?

Joe Wreschnig
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Dirty "secret" of many social games: Half those mechanics game from analyzing gambling systems in the first place.

Sean Kiley
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Here we go, can't wait for politicians to throw a tantrum on this one.

Jeferson Soler
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Well, I for one don't think that this is a good idea and I'm not a politician.

Martin Sabom
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If Zynga pulls it off, the stock, at its current price, is a hell of a deal.

Harlan Sumgui
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Facebook is officially evil.

Cordero W
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There's goes any moral decency. Not just morals of the self, but the morals of what this will contribute to the masses. This is going to ripple throughout to various other areas, especially the video game facebook market, which will ripple to mobiles, and soon....soon, consoles. This already exists in the form of "chance" items in various online games, but this is just too direct at this point.

I hate greed. These guys are not taking responsibility for their actions and what it will do to society.

Joe Wreschnig
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I'm not entirely sure this is worse than the corner gambling parlors one finds in many European cities (and the comparatively fewer US areas that permit gambling). These establishments are usually already franchised or corporately-owned and funneling money out of the community, and prey on the young, elderly, unemployed, and undereducated.

In some ways, I think it might be better. It's probably harder to launder money through. You can't have an under-the-counter or parking-lot drug trade. You don't have angry people going home drunk and penniless at 2AM. You'll have a harder time building to specifically target poor communities. If you've got Internet access, it's as easy to access Wikipedia or Kahn Academy as this, which is not true of hitting up the nearest Spielothek vs. going to the library.

Now, I don't like those, and I don't like this. But I'm not sure this is any worse, and it may contribute *slightly* to putting those worse things out of business. And it's hard for me to put my foot down about this when worse things are already in our backyards largely without criticism.

Cordero W
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I guarantee you that the government is about to step in on this in one way or another. This isn't Europe anymore. This is America money they'll be tampering with, and the government is definitely going to have some say in this.

Joe Wreschnig
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"This isn't Europe anymore. This is America money they'll be tampering with..."

Gamesys is a UK company offering a game exclusively (not sure how they're vetting this either) to UK residents. Where's the "America money"?

If Facebook runs into trouble with the US government, I'm sure they can solve it faster than you or I can say "foreign subsidiary"...

Ian Uniacke
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"You don't have angry people going home drunk and penniless at 2AM"

They have nowhere to "go home" to. People with gambling addiction will have no refuge from the internet. This is 100 times worse in my opinion. (maybe 110 ;P)

Ramin Shokrizade
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Considering how much money is on the line here, how many companies are lining up to do this world wide, and the strength of their lobbying efforts, this push is inevitable. Right now it is only in England so they will get to be the test animals for this. If it becomes problematic then England can always regulate intensely as Japan has done with Kompu Gacha. If 8 year olds can use prepaid Zynga cards for this, then obviously a lot of changes would be required for this to migrate to the USA.

I personally don't see a lot of difference between what we have now and gambling, except right now we have no chance of getting our money back. The good news is that this might lead to real controls on young children participating.


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