Photo: WinStar World Casino
Facebook is going into the gambling business.Starting today, report Christopher Thompson and April Dembosky of the FT, Facebook will allow users in the UK to play bingo for real money. Real-money slot machines will soon follow.
Gambling is much more socially and legally acceptable in the UK than in the US, where legislators pretend that it’s immoral to gamble outside of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and some Indian reservations. The same legislators have no issue with lotteries, which encourage citizens to throw hard-earned money down rat holes to raise additional state tax revenue.
But still, gambling is a risque behaviour to cash in on, especially for a mainstream consumer company like Facebook.
Industry insiders have long expected Facebook to turn to gambling at some point, and they have high hopes for it. Earlier this year, in Europe, one insider predicted that gambling would eventually turn Facebook into a $100 billion business.
Facebook’s Bingo gambling will be conducted in partnership with a company called Gamesys, one of the UK’s biggest online gambling companies. The game will be called Bingo Friendzy.
Facebook will presumably collect a ~30% “vig” from the money spent to play Bingo on the Facebook platform, the same way it collects a portion of the virtual goods revenue its social-gaming partners generate in the U.S. This revenue will help fortify Facebook’s “payments” revenue stream, which has recently been crippled by the collapse of Zynga.
Meanwhile, one company that appears to have been left out in the cold here is Zynga, Facebook’s big game partner in the US. Zynga has also been eager to cash in on the online gambling craze. But it will apparently be watching this Facebook move from the sidelines.