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Critics Say Facebook will Create a New Generation of Problem Gamblers

  • 25 Dec 12
  • Written by Deena Chance

altIndustry critics have come forward to criticise Facebook, over its recent agreement with 888 Holdings to allow real-money casino, bingo and slot games to be made available to British players.

888Holdings operates several high-profile gambling websites, including 888Casino / Casino-on-Net, 888 Games, Reef Club Casino, 888Poker, 888Ladies, 888Sport, Pacific Poker, and 888Bingo. In a move that has further fuelled the anger felt by experts over the backing of apps such as Bingo Friendzy earlier this year, the company has made a deal with the online social media giant to allow Facebook users to be able to wager with amounts of as much as £500. This new audience of players will be able to place their bets via debit and credit cards in return for the chance to win jackpots worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Critics and campaigners are warning that Facebook runs the risk of creating a “new generation of problem gamblers.” Although the company has made assurances that minors will be unable to play, thanks to strict safeguards, many people believe that children could still gain access via their family computer.

Liaisons with Facebook are nothing new to 888Holdings, as they released a free-to-play app to its users, Bingo Island, over two years ago. Players can accumulate credits, but cannot win physical money, and if the player is 18 or over, they will see targeted gambling ads for real-money sites. The new real-money game – Bingo Appy – is due to launch in the coming months, and will be swiftly followed by a casino and other games applications.

Experts, such as Mark Griffiths, who works at Nottingham Trent University as a Professor of Gambling Studies, are concerned that the new apps will lure unsuspecting players, who are used to playing for unrealistic odds on their free-to-play counterparts. Professor Griffiths claims that research into the subject has proved countless times that a major factor in the development of problem gambling first starts with free online games, and that today’s children and teens will be the “problem gamblers of tomorrow.”

According to Facebook’s records, there are only around 3,000,000 UK users between 13 and 17 years-of-age using their site. However, many believe there are actually many more, and that children are lying about their age to get around Facebook security restrictions.

If you have young children or teenagers, what do you think about this latest move to allow real-money gambling on Facebook? If you have a family PC, do you check what your child is up to on it? Maybe, you’ve even installed special software, which tracks exactly what sites they’ve been visiting?

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