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Rumors were abuzz yesterday about the possibility of the social networking behemoth Facebook entering into the online poker arena, but it may be that was the extent of the issue…simply rumors.
According to the popular blog “Friending Facebook” written by Emil Protalinski on ZDNet.com, Facebook has been rumored to be in discussions with several outlets regarding the future of online poker on the site. Currently, Facebook only offers “credits” that players can purchase to use to play a multitude of games that the site promotes, but it hasn’t stepped into the realm of a “real money” offering. Protalinski details out how some of the buzz regarding the possibility of Facebook stepping into online poker has gotten started.
Apparently, clandestine meetings were held over the summer between Facebook and “approximately twenty online gaming experts, consultants and social gaming entrepreneurs,” according to Protalinski. If this were to become a reality, it would happen at some point within the first three months of 2012, with the potential for up to eight licenses to be offered to potential online gaming operations through Facebook.
Protalinski notes, via eGaming Review Magazine, that two of those potential outlets have already been named as potential licensees. One of the top game developers, Gamesys, is potentially in the running for one of those licenses. Gamesys, which has been in the online gaming industry since 2001, offers bingo software as well as games based on television shows such as The Price Is Right and Deal or No Deal. The company also has a contract with Caesars Entertainment for CaesarsBingo.com.
The other operation named specifically as a potential suitor for Facebook also has connections with Caesars Entertainment, the owners of the World Series of Poker. 888 Holdings PLC, founded in 1997 and the ownership behind such offerings as 888Poker.com and the Caesars Entertainment owned WSOP.com online poker site, is rumored to be one of the companies at the front of the line for a potential Facebook partnership. 888Poker is currently the fourth ranked online poker network in the industry, having a seven day average of 2150 cash game players, according to PokerScout.com.
Protalinski points out several issues that will have to be overcome before any such partnerships can reach fruition. Age verification issues, something that anti-online gaming zealots have said would be problematic, are something that Facebook would have to deal with, as people do not always put their year of birth on their Facebook record for privacy reasons. Finding an outlet that could process real money transactions at a bulk rate would also be problematic as well as how Facebook and any partners would divvy up the proceeds.
In looking at how Facebook handles its “credits” transactions, Protalinski points out some significant numbers. Protalinski states that Facebook takes a 30% cut of revenues earned through the purchases of Facebook Credits, with the remaining 70% going to the developers of the games. To possibly see how much money is potentially involved in this partnership, PartyGaming – before it joined forces with Bwin early this year – pulled in $497.9 million in revenue in 2010. If that type of activity was seen with a Facebook gaming site – and using the same percentages as Facebook currently operates under – it would mean Facebook would make approximately $149.3 million and their partner company would pull in $348.5 million.
For American citizens, however, there is no glimmer of hope. Real money online poker through Facebook isn’t an option per the current status of online gaming in the United States. The offerings would first be done in the United Kingdom and potentially branch out to the rest of the world, Protalinski reports.
Then again, this could all just be conjecture. Protalinski contacted Facebook officials regarding this issue and quoted a representative of Facebook as saying, “We’re always in discussions with companies about lots of different ideas, but we don’t comment on future plans or speculation.” After the ringing in of the New Year, however, we may learn if these plans are true or false. (Credit: Poker News Daily)
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