Facebook to Test Real-Money Online Gambling in UK; the Lure of Children Amongst Real-Fears

Casino Watch Focus originally reported that Facebook banned online advertisements in the United States and other jurisdictions where online gambling is illegal.  Where as it might appear Facebook was taking a hard line stance against gambling, new reports may prove otherwise.  Currently, Facebook uses a virtual money system for several of their games/apps.  A user can purchase credits that can then be used in the virtual setting for the purchase of games or items from various developers.  The online Tech Site ZDNet, reported that Facebook is now considering replacing their virtual money system with real money. The move is designed to open the doors to full scale online gambling on Facebook.  ZDNet explains:

Facebook already offers a virtual currency option known as Facebook Credits, which is used extensively in Facebook apps like social games, but the social networking giant is also reportedly interested in supporting the exchange of real money in the online gambling market. The company wants to open up the Facebook Platform to online gambling, possibly as soon as in Q1 2012. This past summer, Palo Alto held exploratory talks with approximately 20 online gaming experts, consultants, and social gaming entrepreneurs, and now it’s moving forward.

More specifically, Facebook is looking at handing out eight licenses, two per vertical, to the online gambling operators in regulated markets such as the UK, according to EGR. The company has drawn up initial licenses for different gambling operators: Gamesys, which has some 1.7 million monthly Facebook users and 888 are reportedly first in line. You read that right: gambling apps could soon start appearing on the Facebook Platform.

Its worth noting that Facebook is only looking to begin testing in the UK and if they find success, then they would  likely branch out to other countries where its legal to gamble online (which would currently exclude the United States).  As one could imagine, Facebook’s actions are drawing the ire of those in the UK concerned with the most vulnerable – their children.  The UK Daily Mail explains:

Facebook is being accused of luring children into gambling through plans to introduce real cash games. The world’s biggest social network site wants to use Britain as a testing ground for games that would let users gamble on virtual fruit machines, bingo, poker and roulette. Last night  critics expressed fears that the proposals will create a generation who believe that gambling is safe and fun.

More than 3million Facebook users in the UK are aged between 13 and 17. A further million are estimated to be under 13 but pretending to be older.  Dr Robert Lefever, founding director of the Promis Recovery Centre which treats addicts, said: ‘Introducing gambling to Facebook is a cynical way for the gambling industry to find new markets, making gambling look acceptable. ‘There will be young people who think these games have Facebook approval, that you can gamble and it’s fun. It’s not – gambling destroys families.’

Lauri Moyle, of Christian Action Research Education (CARE), said: ‘Because there is a link between the age when people start gambling and the likelihood of developing a difficulty controlling their gambling, protecting children from the normalisation of gambling is vital.’

Professor Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University, added: ‘Even when no money changes hands, young children are learning the mechanics of gambling. These games can be a gateway to more serious gambling.’

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

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