Facebook launches first real-money games

Jackpotjoy operator Gamesys has launched a real-money bingo game on Facebook, marking the social network’s first foray into online gambling.

Bingo & Slots Friendzy went live on Facebook’s UK-facing platform this morning, allowing residents aged 18 and over to play bingo games for cash prizes. Six multi-line slots will go live in the coming weeks.

Facebook’s head of gaming for EMEA, Julien Codorniou, told the FT that Facebook was “a distribution platform for Gamesys – they have the games and we bring the audience.”

Gamesys already operates a thriving social slots business on Facebook under its Jackpotjoy brand, which has 1.5 million monthly users.

Codorniou also confirmed reports circulating since last summer that Facebook was in discussions with other gambling companies over expanding the range of real-money games available through the platform to include blackjack and roulette.

Facebook’s move into the online gambling space follows an announcement by its largest social games partner Zynga two weeks ago that it was to launch its first real-money gambling games in regulated markets outside of the US in the first half of 2013.

While Zynga CEO Mark Pincus declined to provide detail on “how we will enter those markets”, today’s launch effectively paves the way for the company behind the world’s biggest online poker game and Facebook’s most popular game, Texas Hold’Em Poker, to start working towards converting players of its social gambling games in the UK to real money. It currently relies on Facebook for around 93% of its revenue.

Facebook and Zynga’s respective moves towards realising real-money gambling revenues in the UK follow torrid starts to life as listed entities for both companies. Facebook, which currently relies on Zynga for around 19% of its revenue, through the 30% cut it takes of the provider’s revenue on the platform or from ads bought by Zynga to promote its games, has seen its stock plummet to a current price of $21.92 from its IPO price of $38 per share.

Casino Choice journalist

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