The ‘real-money gambling on Facebook’ experiment suffered another blow on Thursday with the news that UK-listed online gambling operator 888 Holdings is pulling its real-money Magic888 Casino app from the social network. 888 COO Itai Frieberger told eGaming Review that the app, which was launched with great fanfare last March, would be withdrawn ‘imminently’ to avoid any impact by the UK’s looming 15% point of consumption tax (POCT).
Frieberger said it was no secret that Facebook-based real-money casino products were “not doing very well” and that the additional impact of the POCT would have made it “very tough to run something which was always marginal.” However, 888 intends to maintain its real-money Bingo Appy product on Facebook, which Frieberger says has performed “strongly” since its December 2012 launch.
The decision to kill off Magic888 comes two months after Gamesys pulled the plug on its Bingo & Slots Friendzy app, which had blazed the Facebook real-money gambling trail back in August 2012. In February, social gaming stars Big Fish Games scuttled their real-money gambling ambitions by severing their ties with real-money gambling enablers Betable. While no reason was cited for the split, evidence is mounting that social gamers and real-money gamblers are two distinct tribes with little crossover potential.
Bucking this negative trend is Irish betting operator Paddy Power, which reportedly had great success with its Paddy Power Social sports betting app during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and plans to expand the app’s features to coincide with the start of a new Premier League football season next month. Paddy Power is also working on a mobile version of the app, suggesting it’s far from convinced it’s time to throw out the baby with the social bathwater.
ASA SPANKS 888 OVER ‘MISLEADING’ ADVERTS
In other 888 news, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has spanked the company for promising a “£88 FREE + Up to £100 bonus on your first deposit” in a recent 888Casino poster and website promotion. Two punters complained that the adverts gave too little attention to conditions (a) limiting withdrawals of winnings to a maximum of £20 and (b) including a 30x rollover requirement.
888 responded by saying there was no attempt to hide the fact that terms and conditions applied to the offer and thus the only way one could be misled would be to forego reading said T&C’s. The ASA rejected this argument, noting that the poster only referred to the fact that unspecified T&C’s applied and, since the poster was on a London Underground platform, it would have exposed the offer to individuals not necessarily familiar with standard betting offer practices. The ASA also slammed the online promotion for not giving sufficient prominence to the offer’s limitations. The ASA ordered 888 to refrain from running either ad in their current form.