Facebook In Talks To Open Platform For Real-Money Gambling In The UK

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According to eGaming Review (note: the story is theirs exclusively but sits behind a paywall), Facebook is engaged in exploratory talks with a number of UK operators to open its platform to real-money online gambling, maybe even as soon as in the first quarter of 2012.

Citing sources familiar with the discussions, eGR reports that the social networking leader is considering offering an initial eight ‘licences’ to as many UK operators looking to roll out such gambling apps on the Facebook platform.

According to eGR’s sources, Facebook has begun staffing up for the launch and support of real-money gambling ventures in the UK, where online gambling is properly regulated, after initially aggressively promoting the use of Credits to online gambling service operators. We’ve contacted Facebook for confirmation and will update as soon as we hear back.

For the record: in the United States, online gambling is essentially considered to be illegal in most states, though legalization efforts are underway (for some background, check Wikipedia).

When we talk about real-money online gambling, that basically means gambling on the Internet just like you would in an offline casino, for example, betting or depositing real money to win real money, and not just to play for fun or to cash in by means of digital goods or virtual currency.

UK-based operator names that are circulating, still according to the report published by eGaming Review, are those of Gamesys (which owns sites like jackpotjoy.com, botemania.com and iwi.com) and online casino, poker and bingo gaming giant 888 Holdings.

Facebook has reportedly held exploratory talks with approximately 20 online gaming experts, consultants and social gaming entrepreneurs at the end of this Summer, and eGR claims that the discussions have now moved to facilitating a near-future launch of real-money gambling apps on the Facebook platform.

When this would happen, how players would verify their age and identity, which payment solutions Facebook plans to deploy for handling real-money play, or any details around the revenue split between Facebook and gaming operators, are all aspects that appear to be still very much unclear.

eGR speculates that Facebook might see the UK as a testbed before rolling out support for real-money online gambling apps on its platform in additional countries later on.

Facebook used to have a strict policy in place when it came to advertising online gambling businesses on its platform. This only changed recently, when Facebook openly relaxed its rules.

Currently, Facebook’s advertising guidelines outline that “ads that promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casino, sports books, bingo, or poker, are only allowed in specific countries with prior authorization from Facebook”.