Facebook is trialling online gambling for the first time by allowing a gaming app on its platform to offer users the chance to play with real money.
Limited to the UK for now, the Telegraph reports that the launch of Bingo Friendzy signals the first instance of a Facebook app allowing gamers to stake real cash on the outcome of their play. Players have to be aged 18 and using a computer in the UK to be able to play. Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s head of gaming for Europe, explained to the Financial Times:
“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.”
It’s not just limited to this one game either: in the coming months, UK Facebook users will be able to play online slot machine games, and they’re expected to be followed by a Zynga-powered real-cash poker game next year.
No doubt the intention of the trial is to give the Big Blue’s profits a much-needed shot in the arm. But the idea of rolling the concept out on a broader scale isn’t trivial, particularly in the US, where social media gambling is an incredibly thorny issue. What the future holds for Facebook’s social gambling, then, is hard to tell — but it will be interesting to see how it fairs in the UK. [Telegraph]