Facebook seeks payments boost with real-money gambling

Bingo Friendzy

Facebook is seeking to boost its payments revenues by venturing into real-money gambling, reports StrategyEye. UK-based social game developer Gamesys is launching Bingo Friendzy on the social network, enabling consumers in the UK to gamble real money against friends and other Facebook users. The title is initially only launching in the UK to consumers aged 18 or older, where online gambling is commonplace due to less stringent online gambling regulations. A US operation is a more complicated affair due to regulatory restrictions. The move signals Facebook’s intent to boost its payments revenues after they climbed just 5.8% to USD192 million during its latest quarter. The social network typically takes a 30% cut from all transactions made on its platform, but Facebook is refusing to disclose the financial details regarding its online gambling foray, claiming that it is “commercially sensitive information”.

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,” Facebook’s head of gaming for EMEA, Julien Cordonieu, tells The Financial Times.

Bingo Friendzy appears to be just the beginning of Facebook’s gambling aspirations in the UK, with Codorniou claiming that the firm is in discussion with other gambling companies about bringing titles to the social network. The move to real-money gaming could prove a significant one, both for Facebook’s payment revenues and the wider social gaming market, beginning in the UK. Zynga is also expected to launch a social gambling assault in the coming months as it aims to boost its coffers. Many analysts tied Zynga’s poor performance to Facebook’s meagre payment revenue growth during Q2 and a concerted gambling push would provide another revenue stream for the social game developer.

The UK appears to be the market that will foster social gambling growth in the coming months due to the infrastructure already in place. Along with Gamesys, social gambling startup Betable recently relaunched and is targeting social games developers, enabling them to process real-money gambling in markets where it is legal. Overall, mobile is expected to play an increasingly important role in social and online gambling, with recent Juniper stats claiming that “several” UK betting agencies are already processing 20% of online wagers via mobile devices. The research firm adds that the popularity of social gambling services will drive the global mobile betting market to USD100 billion by 2017, up from USD20 billion in 2011.

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