Gambling’s Next Generation: Facebook Users?

On Superbowl weekend, a look at how social gamers increasingly leap to online betting.

Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for gambling in Canada and the United States — more than $100 million is expected to be bet legally in Las Vegas alone.

More than 100 million people will tune in to the Fox broadcast. They will be certain to discuss the $4 million-for-30-seconds TV ads, the Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ halftime show and, of course, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos on their smartphone or tablet via social media.

At the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s second annual responsible gambling convention last week, delegates heard how the two worlds are colliding. Research from a prominent Wall Street investment house suggests that converting social gamers into online gamblers is the key growth opportunity for the industry.

But a leading Canadian gambling addiction researcher is concerned that there will be casualties in the rush to migrate Facebook users, particularly the young and social media savvy, to digital bookies.

„There is a growing convergence between traditional gambling (real money casinos), online gambling (real money online casinos) and social gaming (virtual games played predominantly through Facebook),“ said a Nov. 14, 2012 Morgan Stanley Blue Paper. „Social gaming companies such as Zynga are increasingly expanding into social gambling games, with poker and slot machines consistently ranking among the most popular. Similarly, online gambling operators such as are expanding into social gambling.“

Morgan Stanley estimated 170 million people play social gaming apps — triple the number of people who gamble for real money online. At $1.7 billion, social gaming is worth a fraction of the estimated $35-billion online gambling industry, which relies heavily on revenue from sports and casino games.