Some Express Concerns About Facebook’s Online Gambling Plans

Many in the online gaming world were excited by the recent announcement by social networking giant Facebook that it will provide real time gambling apps for online players. Since Facebook has over 800 million active users the potential can easily be seen. Currently Facebook offers a virtual currency known as Facebook Credits and reports say that Facebook is interested in supporting the exchange of real currencies. Facebook would like to open the Facebook Platform to online gambling. Some say that Facebook may make the move as early as the first quarter of 2012. Facebook wants to hand out eight licenses to online gaming operators in legal regulated markets such as the UK. Since the UK is the world’s largest online bingo market one of the licenses is sure to go to an online bingo operator.

Not everyone is pleased with the move by Facebook to facilitate online gambling. Facebook is now being accused of luring minors into gambling through the new gambling apps. Facebook plans to let UK punters try their luck at bingo, poker, roulette and fruit machines. (slots) Facebook already allows members to play online bingo and slot machines using virtual currencies. Critics fear that that the implementation of gambling will create a new generation that believes gambling is safe and fun. Dr Robert Lefever, founding director of the Promis Recovery Centre stated “Introducing gambling to Facebook is a cynical way for the gambling industry to find new markets, making gambling look acceptable. There will be young people who think these games have Facebook approval, that you can gamble and it’s fun. It’s not – gambling destroys families.”

Labour Member of Parliament Louise Ellman told reporters from the Daily Mail “I’m very concerned about this move by Facebook and the impact it might have on children and other vulnerable people. Children spend hours on Facebook and parents need to be confident that it is a safe environment. Religious groups weighed in on the issue. Lauri Moyle, of Christian Action Research Education (CARE) stated “Because there is a link between the age when people start gambling and the likelihood of developing a difficulty controlling their gambling, protecting children from the normalisation of gambling is vital.” Professor Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University worries that young people will learn the intricacies of gambling on Facebook. Griffiths stated “Even when no money changes hands, young children are learning the mechanics of gambling. These games can be a gateway to more serious gambling.”

Despite the objections Facebook plans to offer online bingo and other gambling applications in the UK. The truth is that most people can play online games without developing any problems. Most people gamble online as a pleasant diversion from everyday life.

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