Irish gaming firm Paddy Power announced last week that it will soon launch the first real money sports betting app on the Facebook social networking platform. The app, called Paddy Power In-Play!, is currently in beta testing and may launch in said beta format within the next week or two.
“The app will add social engagement to online betting, enabling customers to bet on a wide variety of sporting events through Facebook, while also giving them visibility of, and the opportunity to engage with, other users,” said Paddy Power in a statement.
The company has made assurances that strict age verification procedures will be in place. The app will initially be available only to desktop users in the United Kingdom.
Lynsey Sweales, CEO of social media and online marketing firm Social B, told CNBC that if Paddy Power really taps into the power of social networking, this new venture could be a hit for the company. “Gambling companies can’t just go out and see what people are talking about then say ‘bet with us’, but they can increase brand awareness and possibly increase sales,” she said. “There are strict legal guidelines with gambling, but a company can see what people are talking about and can tap that space.”
Paddy Power’s announcement came at about the same time that social gaming power Zynga unveiled its own real-money gambling apps for Facebook. Last week, Zynga demonstrated two apps – ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino – both of which run using software from bwin.party. Both products launched as separate, downloadable offerings in April, marking Zynga’s first foray into real money gaming. No launch date has been named for the Facebook launch.
Assuming Paddy Power In-Play! goes live soon, it will be the second real money gambling app on Facebook. Last August, London-based Gamesys launched Bingo Friendzy, a real money bingo application.
Peter O’Donovan, managing director of Paddy Power Online, said of the upcoming release, “The launch of the first real money sports betting product on Facebook is testament to Paddy Power’s e-commerce and technology capabilities as well as our international industry leadership position in social media.”
Paddy Power is best known for its online sports book, but it also operates an entire suite of gambling products. Its internet poker room, PaddyPowerPoker.com, resides on the iPoker Network, currently ranked by PokerScout.com as the third largest network in the industry in terms of cash game traffic. At this time, there is no indication that Paddy Power has plans to develop a poker app for Facebook, though if Paddy Power In-Play! succeeds and real money gambling continues to expand on Facebook, it would not be at all surprising to see more real money online poker popup in the social gaming realm.