The words “online gambling,” “Facebook,” and “Oculus” haven’t been used together in many sentences lately, but perhaps they should be.
Based on our nagging suspicion, it seems plausible – if not likely – that virtual reality poker rooms may one day dominate the world of online real-money and social gaming. If so, Facebook is now well positioned to dominate that market.
Last week, Facebook acquired Oculus, the virtual reality titan, in a deal worth $2 billion. Obviously, Facebook has a long-term focus in play, even if we haven’t been privy to all of the details. So, could online gambling be on the social giant’s radar? Since we can’t say for sure that it isn’t, let’s wonder aloud for a moment that it is.
For Facebook users in the United States, real-money online casino and social games have never been available.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t readily available through Facebook elsewhere in the world. As it turns out, Facebook is an emerging titan of real money online gambling.
In the U.K, for example, Facebook added real money gambling to its offerings just over a year ago. “Until recently,” The Street reported in January, “it was limited to bingo and online slots but now, through a partnership with Zynga, Facebook users in the U.K. can play online poker for real money.”
None of the games are available in the U.S. yet. Legal hurdles including the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 have, until recently, kept almost all forms of online gambling outside of lottery ticket sales underground and offshore. After the U.S. Department of Justice clarified (essentially reversed) its stance on Internet gaming, states started testing the waters with intrastate licenses.
But as federal legislation authorizing real-money online gambling is expected to be introduced and potentially enacted within the next 12-36 months, might Facebook become the ultimate online gambling destination for Americans?
Unlike the smaller online gambling outfits that are presently restricted to the markets in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, Facebook’s mammoth reach across the U.S. and its pervasive marketing muscle could light a fire under the overall domestic online gambling market.
For now, Facebook has provided few clues with regard to its wishes or future plans for online gambling in the United States.
Do you expect the social networking giant to aggressively pursue opportunities in this market? And, perhaps more importantly, should they?