A new Facebook application that launched on 6th August 2012 has got critics all hot and bothered about its potential to encourage real gambling on the popular social media site.
Bingo Friendzy isn’t just a low stakes game either; it offers tempting, giant jackpots of up to £50,000 and requires users to deposit between £10 and £500 when they register to play, using “quick deposit” methods such as credit and debit cards.
The maximum deposit amount allowed is a whopping £20,000. It’s the first app of its kind to allow users to play on the site for real money. The hotly-debated game will only be available to play in the UK, where gambling laws are less restrictive than countries such as the US, and will be shortly followed by another offering from the same software brand, which features a Vegas-style slot.
Not only are critics accusing Facebook of being a “front for gambling”; they are also greatly concerned that children will be tempted to play. The game features Japanese Manga-style cartoon characters, which look uncannily similar to those on popular kid’s website, Moshi Monsters, where youngsters can adopt virtual pets. It’s thought that the similarity will attract the attention of children, despite the fact that Bingo Friendzy has an 18+ age restriction (the same as the UK’s legal gambling age).
Facebook and the operators behind the application, Gamesys – a name you will recognise if you play at the Jackpotpoy Bingo site - are meanwhile challenging concerns, saying that the social media site’s tight controls will prevent users who are under the age of 18 from playing. It’s expected that other real-money apps will soon follow suit and (as expected) Facebook has a vested interest in their success as it gets to take a share of the profits from each one. The company is currently struggling with the value of its share prices, and is feeling increased pressure to deliver increased revenues, which it could certainly do if games of this ilk take off.
Nottingham Trent University’s Professor of Gambling Studies, Mark Griffiths, recently took a look at Bingo Friendzy and expressed his “extreme concerns about the graphics and imagery.” Despite the general agreement that gambling should not appeal or be promoted to children, he feels that Bingo Friendzy is doing the exact opposite.
As always, we're keen to hear what our readers have to say. Do you think more should be done about preventing children from accessing this sort of application? Or, perhaps you’d like to see more of your favourite or new brands offering real-money bingo, casino and poker games on Facebook? Just leave your comments below to tell us your thoughts.