The Merger of Social Media and Gambling

Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have overtaken the way many of us communicate, learn of companies and deals they offer and get information on a variety of news, events and organizations. Social media is not used by just the young as more and more generations are becoming comfortable with it. Social media sites have ingrained themselves in our daily existence whether we like it or not and gambling operators, gaming companies and celebrities are all getting in on the action at a record speed.

Casino operators, for instance, use social media in a number of ways. They can advertise news, events, room specials and other special offerings on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds so that anyone who “Likes” or “Follows” them will get up to the minute details about their favorite casinos.

Software providers and game designers find social media useful as well. The pages of these companies can announce new games and show demo versions or video clips on sites such as It is a way to drum up interest in their products and get fans excited about new games.

For all of the things that social media is offering the gambling industry, the one aspect that is not on offer is the ability to gamble with real money. Since the most internationally popular social media companies are in the US and the US currently has laws against online gambling for real money, companies are currently skirting the issue by offering players virtual currency to gamble with. Virtual currency is not money in the sense that you can withdraw it and spend it elsewhere. This type of currency is only fictitious and generally cannot be used on any other site then the one which gave it to you.

Many gaming companies with pages on Facebook will offer members or players an initial sum of virtual currency that they can wager while playing classic casino games including poker, blackjack, scratch cards and slots on social media sites. This is a bit similar to internet casinos that let you play for “fun money.” You will never win any real cash but you can still have all of the fun that comes along with the gambling experience. If you run out of virtual money more can usually be purchased or earned by buying advertised products, filling out a survey or inviting your friends to join the page.

Since the sites legally cannot reward players with cash they find other ways to make players feel special or recognized. Some of the gambling sites on Facebook will let you post winning hands or badges that you earn. Not only does this offer recognition for the players but it also works as an additional advertisement for the operator when it appears on a players’ personal pages and all of their friends see it. Other gambling operators allow you to buy virtual gifts and send them to friends or other players. Why not send a virtual cocktail to the cute avatar (an online character that represents you) that has been beating you all night?

One of the newest Facebook gambling pages is offering more than just virtual commerce. Rocket-frog offers its players payment in the form of gift cards from sponsors of the site. While cold, hard cash would be better no one is going to turn down a free gift card.

As the US looks primed to amend its laws regarding internet-based gambling, many gaming, casino and social media companies are just playing a waiting game. Most are positioning themselves carefully so that when the market does become available they will be able to run with it. Many made this clear at the recent 12th annual Global iGaming Summit & Expo where industry leaders and CEOs from social media groups, gaming and gambling operators showed up in mass. It is inevitable that the two, real money gambling and social media, will collide eventually but as for now we will just have to continue to wait patiently or be satisfied with a badge of honor or a virtual bank account with no real money.

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