The Future of Social Gaming in the UK

Since late summer Facebook users 18 and over have had access to real money gambling in the UK. Legal restrictions in other countries have prevented the social networking giant from offering real money gaming services. The world’s largest gambling market, the United States, remains closed to Facebook thanks to federal laws. The chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, Clive Hawkswood, pointed out that the Bingo and Slots Friendzy app is a perfect combination in the UK due to the immense popularity of bingo. Hawkswood stated “Bingo is at the softer end of the gambling spectrum and online bingo often has chat forums alongside, so it’s an obvious match for Facebook.”

Facebook has high hopes for real money gambling. Earlier in the year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “When online gambling is legalized, Facebook will be a $100 billion company.” Zuckerberg was referring to revenues generated not the company’s market value. Zuckerberg also said that Facebook is generating about $400 million in gaming revenues from Zynga games. Zynga is also hoping to cash in on internet gambling. The company announced that it will launch an internet gambling initiative in the UK during the first half of 2013.

Zynga has had many recent problems. The company has been forced to lay off 5% of its employees and close three offices in the UK, Boston and Japan. Zynga has had problems maintaining its [player base and has failed to meet growth expectations. Zynga CEO Mark Pincus told a group of investors “We didn’t create enough new heat for our players by innovating on content and features.” Zynga CFO David Wehner said the company plans to cut back on advertising and network spending.

Zynga has partnered with a major player in the UK remote gaming industry, Bwin party. Zynga is hoping to build a large online gambling empire. CFO Wehner said “We view this as a first step into real money gaming, and we believe that it’s a good first step. But it’s only a first step toward what we think is a large opportunity for Zynga.” The decision to offer real money bingo in the UK was a wise one. Bingo is considered a part of British culture and has been popular for over half a century. Currently there are about 400 online bingo sites competing for players so it remains to be seen how successful Facebook’s offering will be.

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