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They’re colourful puffballs, and their cutesy name is spelt with a ‘z’: they’re called the Friendzies, and they’re characters in the world’s first real cash Facebook game that went live on the social network today.
Bingo Friendzy is a new Facebook game from online gambling operator Gamesys, which gives users the opportunity to play with and win real money in 90 ball bingo games. No, not Facebook credits. Actual money.
The game was developed by the London-based online gaming company which also runs the UK’s biggest bingo and slots website (Jackpotjoy) and two related Facebook games which work using Facebook’s virtual currency. Despite the fact that the main characters resemble some sort of spherical set of Furbys, Gamesys designed the game for adults.
But it seems like it’s Facebook’s job to ensure the users playing Bingo Friendzy really are over 18: a potential problem, considering that some reports suggest that 38% of children on Facebook are under its 13-year-old age limit. But a Facebook spokesperson told the BBC that the social network intends to use age-gating technology to ensure that under 18s and “vulnerable” groups were unable to play the game or view posts from older friends who play the game in their newsfeed.
It may be the first of its kind, but other online gaming companies are reportedly working on real money versions of its own games too. According to the BBC, Zynga could roll out real cash games as early as next year.
It’s not a world-wide launch — different countries have different laws regarding online gambling (for example, it’s illegal in the United States), so the use of the app is restricted. Users who don’t live in the UK will be met with an error message if they try to access the app, and won’t see any of the posts from Facebook friends in the UK who have played it.