Facebook’s New Gambling App Not Targeting Children

This month Facebook released its new real money gambling app and not surprisingly the new app has become a controversial topic. The new internet bingo game was released in the gambling friendly UK. Gambling opponents are concerned that the masthead and logo of the Bingo & Slots Friendzy app feature furry lovable creatures that could appeal to children. Some experts say the creatures bear a close resemblance to the characters in the Moshi Monsters social game for children. A spokesman for Gamesys, the company behind the new bingo game, said that the company had “no intention of marketing to kids.” Mind Candy, the company behind the colorful creatures, would not comment to reporters.

The British press has published stories quoting church groups and anti-gambling organizations who say the images are “concerning” and a violation of UK gambling regulations. Facebook and Gamesys have responded by saying that there will be strict policies in place for accepting players who must verify that they are over 18 years old. Gamesys also said they will prevent the app from being shown to people under 18 by using Facebook’s “age-gating and geo-location technology.” One reporter checked out the verification process which requires a credit or debit card and a scanned photo of a passport. Tamlin Magee, a writer for Tech Eye stated “The verification process was fairly thorough and took about ten minutes,” writes Magee, “however, at no point did the customer service representative require proof that I was me other than what I’d said.” A Gamesys spokeswoman said “If we’re marketing to children, then we’re not doing a very good job as our primary audience is 35-45. Our games and marketing is entirely targeted at adults.”

Facebook is releasing the app at a critical time. After going public in May the company’s shares have lost about half of their original value. In July Facebook announced a loss of $157 million during the second quarter. Facebook will receive 30% of Gamesys’s revenue from Bingo Friendzy. Facebook is hoping to show that online gambling can be a new way for the company to generate revenue. Although internet bingo and gambling remain illegal in the United States online gambling is legal and highly regulated in the UK. Facebook said it chose the UK launch a real-cash gambling app because of the UK’s “mature and very well-regulated gambling market.” In the meantime anti-gambling groups continue their efforts to ban the new Facebook app.