Facebook approves real-money gambling app

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Facebook's launching a gambling site that allows users to stake real money - but only in the UK.

Bingo & Slots Friendzy has been developed by online gambling company Gamesys, which operates Sun Bingo, Heart Bingo and Jackpotjoy.com. It's the first ever cash gambling app on Facebook.

"Play our 90 Ball Bingo games and enjoy exciting features like community progressive jackpots, cash bonus games and extra ball calls," says the company. "You won’t find these games anywhere else."

The game's limited to the over-18s, and the company says it'll include the ability to set spending limits, as well as self-help tools to minimise the risk of gambling addiction.

Facebook's defended its decision to the BBC, saying: "Real money gaming is a popular and well-regulated activity in the UK, and we are allowing a partner to offer their games to adult users on the Facebook platform in a safe and controlled manner."

It says it has no plans to extend the game's availability to other regions.

But the move has caused criticism from Christian groups, who point out that under-18s routinely bypass Facebook's age controls.

"With the appealing fluffy animal imagery, the site is clearly designed to appeal to a young audience,” a Mothers' Union spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.

"It is well known that Facebook has over one million under-age users. Whilst we acknowledge the age-verification system Gamesys has put in place, we are concerned that this may incentivise young people to find ways to access this site once they see constant wall updates promoting online gambling."

However, Bingo & Slots Friendzy may just be the first of many gambling apps on Facebook. Long-time partner Zynga, for example, has said it plans to introduce real-money gambling versions of its poker, bingo and slot machine games next year.