Does gambling have its place in social media?

Anybody who has watched television in the last 10 years will be more than aware of the media impact that Jamie Oliver has had upon the world. Anybody who has been on the internet, on the other hand, will have heard of one of the most notorious names in the V-logging world: Zoella, the fashion and beauty guru who rose to fame via her YouTube video blog.

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What is it, then, that links these two household names? It turns out that the aforementioned chef’s company has recently been criticising Zoella to the press for the advertisements surrounding her video blog. In particular, the company says that advertisements for sugary and salty foods should be banned.

Currently, the Advertising Standards Authority prohibits advertisements containing these products from being screened on television to potentially young audiences. However, as of yet there is no such ruling over video logs.

While sugary drinks may be one area of concern, another advertisement which came under fire was that of an online gambling site. In Britain, online gambling is monitored strictly and ensures that under-18s do not have access to a number of sites offering everything from bingo to online casino games.

Does that mean, then, that online gambling has its place in social media? Studies have shown that, of its 1.2 billion users, 42 million Facebook users are 18-24 years of age. It seems that Mark Zuckerberg has cashed in on this, and now allows online gambling as part of Facebook’s roster of online games.

This is something which online gambling providers have cashed in on too – for example, the enduringly popular Jackpotjoy, widely known as Britain’s biggest online bingo provider, also features its own collection of games based on the social networking sites, extending its reach beyond just the bingo brand and further offering games such as online slots.

This is just one example of Jackpotjoy’s mission to take over the world. In February 2015, Gamesys, which operates Jackpotjoy, sold this important asset to Intertain, in an acquisition worth more than £400 million. Now, as the two companies partner up, Intertain’s bingo brands are becoming ever more reaching, including moving into North America. As part of Gamesys’ B2C brands, Virgin Casino recently announced that it would be launching its bingo brand in New Jersey, one of only three North American states in which online gambling is legal.

With bingo seemingly taking over not only on a geographical but also on a social media basis, then, is it fair that these brands should be on Facebook? While parents may have their concerns, staff at Facebook have ensured that any kind of online gambling on Facebook is monitored and is perfectly legal, taking into consideration age restrictions.

For example, when Facebook announced in 2013 that it would be offering virtual slot games, it also said that these games would be available for children, setting off alarm bells for many parents. However, as part of its strict policies, settings were put in place to ensure that users could not gamble with real money until they had reached their 18th birthday.

Indeed, while video logs such as Zoella may be causing something of a stir amongst the catering industry, it is clear that online gambling can operate successfully on social media with the appropriate controls in place. Facebook is doing its utmost to make sure that these sites can operate within the law and without endangering under-aged users – perhaps it is now up to those behind unhealthy food products to do the same.

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