- Critics say the deal with gaming group 888 will create ‘tomorrow’s generation of problem gamblers’
- Users will be able to place bets of up to £500 on Las Vegas-style slot machines
- Experts warn the deal could cause ‘the floodgates to open’ as more gaming companies utilise social network sites
Facebook has been accused of creating ‘tomorrow’s generation of problem gamblers’ by rolling out real money casino games.
Under a lucrative deal with online gaming company 888, the social networking giant will offer Las Vegas-style slot machines and games such as roulette and blackjack.
The move heralds a major expansion of its gambling sites.
Gamers will be able to place up to £500 on bets using a credit or debit card with promises of jackpots worth tens of thousands of pounds.
These will only be available in the UK, where gaming laws are more relaxed than in the US. Both Facebook and 888 insist they have safeguards to prevent minors from accessing the games.
These include checking the credit card details used against both their Facebook profile and the electoral register.
But there is nothing to stop children logging on to parents’ accounts and using card details already stored on the family computer. Already, Facebook users as young as 13 can use virtual slot machines on the website to win ‘credits’ – which have no monetary value.
But as soon as they turn 18, millions of children who use the social networking site will be bombarded with adverts for real money gambling games.
Facebook has three million UK users aged between 13 and 17. But a further one million are thought to be under 13 and pretending to be older.
Any of these could already be playing the ‘free’ slot and bingo games – which critics say form gambling habits because they simulate the thrill of hitting the jackpot.
More than a million people are already signed up to play 888’s free bingo game Bingo Island – although not all of these are UK based. They have to pay for online credits to play, but cannot win any real money back.
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