After months of speculation regarding the entry of social media giant Facebook into online gambling for real money, the UK’s Financial Mail has reported that Facebook has in fact taken the plunge into offering casino games for real money. Its new online gambling offering will initially only be available within the United Kingdom to punters over the age of 18.
This means that British players over the age of 18 are now able to play online bingo for cash prizes. It has also been reported that online slot machines will be added to the offering in the weeks to come.
According to Facebook’s head of gaming for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Julien Codorniou, Gambling is an extremely popular and well regulated pastime in the UK and for millions of bingo players it is already a social experience, so it makes sense for Facebook to offer it as well.
This development confirms the long standing rumours that Facebook was considering entering the real money gambling market in order to boost revenues. According to the Financial Mail, Zynga, Facebook’s most prominent gaming partner is looking into introducing real money gambling versions of its bingo, poker and slots games in the year to come.
At present and for the foreseeable future, the United States will be off limits due to legal and political issues regarding remote gambling. Going forward Facebook will however expand its offering to the various European countries that have formalized online gambling laws and regulation.
According to Clive Hawkswood, CEO of trade body the Remote Gaming Association, Facebook’s recent move is a significant development. He stated that “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 asked why we haven’t done it before but this has been because there’s a difficulty in monetizing what they have – this is one way of bringing in revenues.”
Facebook in joint venture with Gamesys (one of the United Kingdom’s largest online gambling operators) will launch the Bingo Friendzy application to target the social network’s large online audience. According to Codorniou Facebook will act as a distribution platform for Gamesys who will provide the games for Facebook’s multi-million strong audience. He also mentioned that Facebook was in talks with other gambling companies with regard to expanding its offering to include other popular online casinos games like roulette and blackjack but at present no concrete agreements have been made.