Close Video

Science & Tech

Facebook: The online Vegas?

Since Facebook started trading in May, it’s been fairly entertaining (and somewhat sad) watching Zuckerberg and company scramble to improve their ever-dragging stock price. This week the stock dropped below $20, less than half of its IPO. Reacting to the tepid market response, Facebook is looking far and wide for ways to improve their revenue stream.

Their latest foray in money-making is one of the most time-tested ways to make some quick bucks—gambling.

Honestly, Facebook always involved gambling. With just a few status updates and an uploaded photo or two, anyone can gamble with their reputation, career or marriage. Some have even faced jail time due to Facebook posts, so, in a sense, you can even gamble with your freedom.

None of that, of course, raises the price of Facebook stock. Gambling with real money, however, might. And it seems the company is willing to experiment.

Will the largest social networking site become a virtual Reno? Will Farmville get paved over for OpenBarville? Will you be able to gamble with Facebook stock, an apparent gamble itself?

Americans will probably never know. Online gambling has been pretty much extinct in this country since 2006, and recent legal scuttles with foreign-based sites PokerStars and Full Tilt show that there will probably be no change in policy soon.

In the United Kingdom, though, you can pretty much bet on anything anywhere at anytime. Now that includes Facebook.

Earlier this month, UK company Gamesys launched “Bingo Friendzy” The app will have dozens (a “frenzy," I mean, "friendzy") of bingo and slot games.

Gamesys swears that the game is only aimed at Facebook users 18 and older, even though the app’s characters bare an uncanny resemblance to some avians well-known for their irritability. The company claims to have a serious system of controls to prevent youngsters from gambling away their milk money (do kids have milk money these days?).

Zynga, the king of Facebook’s gaming realm, has expressed interest in entering the gambling market, especially now that they have gone public. According to the company, seven million people play Zynga Poker everyday, so real-money gambling could be a boon for the social gaming pioneers.

Facebook makes very clear that they have nothing to do with developing the actual games.

Even with the wacky title, “Bingo Friendzy” has done little to inflate Facebook’s stock after a few weeks. If Zynga enters the real-money gambling game, though, that could change the conversation.

And if the US loosens online gambling restrictions, even more is possible.