On Wednesday eGaming Review reported that Facebook, the world’s largest social network, may offer real-money gambling in the United Kingdom as early as the first quarter of 2012.
According to EGR, Facebook began exploratory talks with U.K. operators to launch real-money online gambling and has already begun hiring staff for the launch. 888 Holdings and Gamesys are reportedly among the sites that are in discussions with Facebook. EGR says the plan is for Facebook to offer eight licenses to U.K. operators who want to offer their gambling platform on Facebook.
Partnering with an existing operator suggests that the real-money play would simply be offered on Facebook and not part of the existing operator's brand. Facebook currently earns 30 percent from real-money deposits for its virtual currency; however, there's no word on how real-money gambling cash-outs would affect this.
Facebook currently hosts Zynga Poker, which sees over 30 million monthly users, though real-money play is not offered. PokerNews talked to Zynga Poker's general manager Lo Toney earlier this month, and he stated that Zynga Poker has "no interest in going after the real-money space."
Facebook's previous policy on advertising online gambling was strict, but it recently amended its advertising guidelines to state that, "ads that promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casino, sports books, bingo, or poker, are only allowed in specific countries with prior authorization from Facebook.”
PokerNews contacted Facebook for a comment and received a response from a company spokesperson. "We're always in discussions with companies about lots of different ideas, but we don't comment on future plans or speculation."
A spokesperson for 888 Holdings told PokerNews that the company would release a formal statement regarding this news within the next 48 hours.