Back in December, our own Matt Klassen reported on a potential foray into online gambling for Facebook. At that point and time, the source was the Daily Mail and the story was that the social networking giant had been working with gambling experts and the like to see what kinds of revenue streams would be available should they step into the casino.
The issue was largely a moral issue, one where users may feel a little uncomfortable knowing that their bastion of cyber-bullying and provocative profile picture-taking could be transformed overnight into a den of iniquities.
Alas, it looks like the rumours have come to fruition. Facebook is stepping into the casino, using British users as guinea pigs and letting them wager real money.
The path to ruin is Gamesys, an independent gaming company, and its Bingo game. The game is available for users 18 and over and the company will pay out real cash to winners. Gamesys also has designs on offering virtual slots gambling on Facebook in the near future.
“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,” Facebook said.
As Mr. Klassen rightly pointed out, “the British are much more open and accepting, unlike nations where social and political discourse is often dominated by an over-zealous Religious Right.” The British experiment is ideal for this very reason, as Facebook must be very careful in exploring revenue avenues.
Despite the fact that growth is slowing in the cash department, the social networking giant still has a user base to maintain. The fickle nature of today’s average Internet user is no secret, so it may not take much to see an exodus of biblical proportions should Facebook tread to heavily in the online gambling department. Ironically, Americans are okay with spending money on fake trees and imaginary cows.
As of right now, Facebook is saying that there are “no current plans” to offer gambling in other countries.
There’s also no word on what portion Facebook will take from gambling via Gamesys. They currently take a 30 percent share of revenue on its other games, but the lion’s share of their take comes out of online advertising.