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Irish Bookmaker Gambles on Facebook Betting App

Arjun Kharpal, special to CNBC.com
Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 | 4:36 AM ET
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

An Irish bookmaker is set to become the first company to offer real-money sports betting on Facebook when it launches an app on the social networking site.

Paddy Power hopes to launch the beta version of its app, called Paddy Power In-Play!, within the next two weeks, according to a company spokesperson.

Users will be able to bet on a variety of sports and markets with real money rather than online credit, while also engaging with other users.

Facebook will unveil the product on Thursday at the World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, pitching it as part of its social gaming strategy, aimed at bringing more casino games to the website.

The betting company, which is based in Dublin, produced the app in-house and a spokesperson from the company said that "robust" age verification procedures will apply.

Peter O'Donovan, managing director of Paddy Power Online, added: "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."

There are already a number of other gambling apps on Facebook such as Bingo Friendzy, a bingo game, but Paddy Power's will be the first to offer bets on sporting events.

The strategy from Paddy Power could be successful "if done correctly", according to Lynsey Sweales, CEO of Social B, a social media and online marketing company.

"If you look on social media, everybody is talking about something - for example Wimbledon. This allows Paddy Power to find out what people are talking about and then engage with that topic," she told CNBC.

"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. There are strict legal guidelines with gambling, but a company can see what people are talking about and can tap that space."

A spokesperson for Gamcare, which helps people with gambling problems and works with betting companies to ensure they maintain high standards, said he was confident the app would be responsible.

"It is great to be able to work with more operators like Paddy Power on these sites, because it does minimize the damage that gambling can cause," Gamcare's Joel O'Connor said.

"Every day there is going to be a headline about the dangers of gambling, but there is no hiding from gambling. The important thing is that the credible operators work with us to make sure there are important safeguards in place."


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