Facebook allows U.K. developer to launch real-money gambling app on platform

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By Mike Thompson Comment

Online gambling company Gamesys today launches Bingo Friendzy for Facebook, the first casino title to incorporate real-money play on the social network.

Real-money gambling is illegal in the U.S., but if Facebook allows more of these games in other countries, it could be a significant source of payments revenue. Facebook reported $192 million in revenue from games and other payments in the second quarter of 2012, but that was only a 3.6 percent increase from the same period in 2011.

Unlike in the U.S., gambling is a part of the U.K. culture and it’s comparatively easy to operate an online gambling site/app on a global scale. Last month, Christopher Griffin told our sister blog Inside Social Games that his real-money gaming platform Betable is able to operate worldwide because the company’s servers are in the U.K. and the country’s laws allow them to operate anywhere in the world, except in those nations where online gambling is explicitly forbidden.

With Facebook’s age-gating and geo-location technology, Bingo Frenzy and its corresponding News Feed stories will not be visible to users under 18 years old or anyone outside of the U.K.

Real-money gaming is still illegal in the United States because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, although there are exceptions in the states of Nevada and New Jersey. Many in the industry expect the law to be overturned within the next few years. That said, more and more studios are launching social casino apps on Facebook because they tend to have stronger monetization and retention rates than standard arcade titles. Developers like Zynga and Idle Games have recently gone on record  to say they’re positioned to take advantage of real-money gaming when it’s legalized in North America, and it also seems likely that casino groups like IGT Interactive, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are poised to do so as well.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Facebook is a place that allows people to connect and share. Real money gaming is a popular and well-regulated activity in the U.K. and we are allowing a partner to offer their games to adult users on the Facebook platform in a safe and controlled manner.”

Gamesys, which also operates the popular Bingo and slots website jackpotjoy in the U.K., requires users to be above the age of 18 years old to play. Bingo Friendzy contains 90 different Bell Bingo and slots games, and The Telegraph reports players need credit cards to play instead of soft/hard currency.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Inside Social Games.