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Cash gaming on Facebook – a big opportunity or a damp squib?

I am sure we all recently read with interest the news that Facebook and Gamesys have done a deal to offer cash gaming on Facebook. This is in the words of the Gamesys’ COO, Lee Fenton, “a huge opportunity” and indeed it well could be.

For those who missed the story, Facebook has done a commercial deal with Gamesys to offer cash gaming (the gambling type, not the Virtual Currency variant) on its platform through the Bingo & Slots Friendzy application. Facebook has hinted for a while now that it would be happy to incorporate cash play in territories where gaming is legal and Bingo Friendzy is seemingly the first example of what may be a significant growth channel for the industry moving forward.

Many have questioned the revenue generating potential of Facebook for cash gaming due to the conflict between a gamblers desire for privacy and Facebook’s inherent quest to share news within friendship group – apparently not everyone wants their friends to know they have lost £5000.

That said, I think such sceptics may well be missing the point. Yes, if one was to port an existing online casino lock stock and barrel onto Facebook and share all player actions there may well be privacy issues and unhappy punters, but that isn’t what is happening; well not yet anyway.

The opportunity that Facebook offers is the ability for operators and game producers to innovate and create new products that relate specifically to the social space. While players may well have the chance to lose thousands of pounds, this is not the feature that will be shared with friends – in the same way as virtual currency casinos don’t highlight the amount of money spent by players on the likes of Double Down and Slotomania. The focus is rather placed on a player’s status within a community, something that has huge value when applied to both a Virtual Currency and cash gaming model.

Furthermore, sceptics also question the appetite of the virtual currency fraternity to enter into cash gaming as they see these players as a casual gamers and essentially ‘non gambling’ gamers. Once again I find myself challenging this assumption as the demographic of online gamers spans a significant spectrum, a wide range of people from all walks of life. Different people like different things and with over 40 million users in the UK alone, surely there is a substantial market to be tapped?

My point is, I feel that by creating innovative, bespoke products for this social market place, there is an opportunity to unlock a sustainable revenue stream from Facebook’s customers, regardless of their demographic. I would go even further and say that Facebook presents an opportunity to move online gambling out of its niche and into the wider and significantly larger lottery market.

There are very few operators who have been able to properly tap into this market. Facebook may well be our route and in time this route may well extend into the US as Facebook has clearly stated it is happy to follow local market trends. If and when the US regulates we could indeed be looking at a ‘huge opportunity’.

As I see, the key is innovation. With both social and mobile platforms opening up to the gaming industry we all have a huge opportunity to create a product offering for the evolving customer landscape. I believe this opportunity extends to the affiliate industry.  With the right approach it is possible to build a community and a detailed customer database quicker than ever before. That said, I feel ‘the right approach’ requires a fair amount of original thought and a new approach in order to get to a point where monetisation is possible. No one said life was easy, but I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the challenge.

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