Facebook Enters Gambling Market With ‘Bingo Friendzy’

Today, Facebook launched its first ever cash gambling app – Bingo Friendzy, developed by the London-based Gamesys.

The social app allows adults to indulge in 90 ball bingo and slots games, with real money at stake. Initially, it will be available to UK users only.

The move is widely seen as an attempt by Facebook to find new revenue streams, following a less-than-impressive quarter and slipping advertising sales.

The app has already caused some controversy, with Christian groups claiming it was designed to target children with its cute characters and colourful images.

Feeding Friendzy

Gamesys is one of UK’s leading online gambling operators, responsible for Sun Bingo and Jackpotjoy.com. In return for being allowed to operate a gambling platform on Facebook, the company has promised to put in place strict controls to protect under-18s and vulnerable people.

Before accessing the app, users will need to verify their identity and location. Gamesys says that thanks to Facebook’s age-gating and geo-location technology the applications, pages and newsfeed activity of Bingo Friendzy will not be visible to underage users, or those outside the UK.

As part of the app, all users have access to a number of self-help tools to limit their spending and exclude themselves from play. At the same time, Friendzy offers rewards for inviting Facebook friends to play in the same game.

“As the UK’s leading online Instant Win and Bingo operator we are committed to extending our products to a wider adult audience,” explains Jackpotjoy managing director Michael Saunders. “So we’ve reinvented our exclusive Bingo and Slots games to appeal to the UK Facebook community.”

“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,” a spokeswoman for the social network told the BBC.

According to the Daily Telegraph, several Christian groups have accused Gamesys of designing the game so it would appeal to minors, comparing the visual style to the widely popular children’s game Moshi Monsters.

The rules set by the Advertising Standards Authority clearly state that marketing “should not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”.

Depending on the success of Bingo Friendzy, more cash games are set to launch in the coming months. Zynga, one of the most prominent Facebook game developers, said it plans to introduce real-money gambling versions of its games next year.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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