Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Turns to Gambling to Bring in Revenues

From baby and holiday pictures to gambling, Social networking site Facebook Inc(NASDAQ:FB) is pulling out all stops to rake in the money and what better way than gambling. 

From Tuesday, adult users in the United Kingdom will get a chance to try their luck at bingo online and win cash prizes. 

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The company is trying new ways to retain its 900 million-plus customer base and fight user fatigue that has crept in. 

"Gambling is very popular and well regulated in the U.K....for millions of Bingo users, it’s already a social experience [so] it makes sense [for us] to offer that as well,” said Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s head of gaming for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

The company will soon be adding slot machine games as an added attraction. It will initially start off its gambling operations with Bingo, as that is seen not as a hard-core gambling game and more of a family activity.  Facebook has tied up with U.K.'s Gamesys to launch the Bingo Friendzy app in a joint venture. 

Social media sites, which rely on user experience and features to attract new users, need to keep innovating and adding new products to retain their interest. In fact analysts have been wondering whether social networks such as Facebook, will be entering the area of gambling as well, in order to provide as close to a real-world experience as it can for people who do spend large chunks of time on its site. 

Facebook's largest gaming partner Zynga Inc(NASDAQ:ZNGA), for instance, is planning to launch real-money gambling versions of its poker, bingo and slot-machine games, the Financial Times said. 

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However gambling is considered illegal in many countries. Facebook gets the major share of its revenues from the United States, where gambling for real-money is prohibited in many states. Only certain states in the country may be offering limited gambling opportunities and this could be serious challenge for the country.
In emerging countries such as India, which is seeing rapid growth in users, laws and regulations are still nebulous and people do flout the laws. Casinos are banned in India and online gambling is illegal except in the state of Sikkim. 

The only game that can be played legally online is rummy, which is recognised as a game of skill.

However, shares of FB ended lower by 5.47% to $20.72 on Tuesday, well off session high of $22.45.

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