SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook has added the chance to gamble with real money to its pages in the UK.
You've been able to gamble on the website before through a bingo style application, but now the firm has added the ability to gamble with money, and we mean real money.
Its new arrangement with 888 Holdings lets players gamble with sums up to £500 and according to Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University this could lead to a whole heap of trouble, particularly if parents leave their accounts open so that their kids can log in and play.
According to Griffiths the free games might be something of a carrot to tempt in players, but can quickly turn into a stick that smacks them upside the head.
"You win virtually every time you play one of the free games," Griffiths told the Daily Telegraph by way of the Daily Mail.
"Research has shown again and again that one of the biggest factors in developing problem gambling is playing free games online first. These children and teenagers today are the problem gamblers of tomorrow."
But, Griffiths has more room to state his case on his personal blog and said that the Telegraph and Daily Mail have cherry picked quotes that make it look like he is furiously anti Facebook gambling.
"The front page of today's Daily Mail screamed ‘Fury at Facebook online casinos'. The story included approximately 10-15 seconds of quotes from a 15-minute interview I did with them yesterday evening," he said.
"I explained at the start of the interview that I was not anti-gambling or anti-Facebook gambling, and that my main interests in relation to gambling via Facebook are player protection, harm minimization, and the protection of vulnerable and susceptible individuals."
Griffiths added that he did not say that research showed, "again and again" that playing free games online is a big factor in developing a gambling problem.
Facebook told us that it wasn't aiming the games at children and had consulted with a charity before rolling out the money games.
"Real money gaming is a popular and well-regulated pastime in the UK. A number of experienced, responsible gaming companies use the Facebook platform to provide secure games - similar games are readily available elsewhere online. Prior to the introduction of these games through Facebook, we consulted with many experts, including the UK Charity Gamcare, the leading provider of information, advice, support and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling," it said.
"We plan to continue working closely with Gamcare and support their campaigns going forward." µ