Gambling & Facebook – The Context


In a three part series SBC’s Sam Cooke has taken a look at how the gambling industry has approached Facebook and how Facebook has handled the gambling products. In this first of three parts, Sam Cooke breaks down the context in which gambling companies operate on Facebook. 

In 2011 Facebook underwent a policy change which saw advertising rules for gambling companies relaxed for eighteen markets, including the UK and excluding the US. This was the official post: “We now allow the promotion of offline casinos or other legal gambling establishments provided the ads are appropriately targeted. We continue to prohibit the promotion of online gambling in the US, but may allow ads for online gambling and games of skill in other countries with our prior authorization.” (

In essence, for the gambling industry, this meant Facebook was now open for business. Previously gambling firms were extremely limited in their usage of the social media giant, had they even bothered to create a page prior to this rule change then they were limited to four posts per week, all of which had to be authorised by Facebook themselves. Whilst this new policy alteration still did not give gambling companies absolute freedom (the changes only applied to specified countries and the site’s authorisation remained a necessity) it opened up an exponentially huge new market.

Facebook’s power for this industry, indeed any industry, is in its reach and targeting opportunities. Gambling firms became able to utilise knowledge of a user’s location, background including education, age, gender as well as interests and friends. In 2013, Paddy Power CEO Patrick Kennedy boldly claimed that “Every man over the age of 18 on Facebook in the UK is connected to at least one Paddy Power fan”.

Fitting the bill and naturally having checked this myself, eager to confirm the surely tongue-in-cheek nature of such a big statement, I found I was connected to seven.

Paddy Power continues to lead the way in utilising Facebook, moreover social media on a broad scale, with many campaigns that are hard to ignore; this is something that will be expanded upon later.

E . Gambling and lotteries

Adverts that promote or facilitate online gambling, games of skill or lotteries, including online casinos, sports books, bingo or poker, are only allowed in specific countries with prior authorisation from Facebook.

(The Official Policy Alteration)

Facebook’s decision in 2011 may have altered numerous marketing campaigns across betting firms in the relevant countries in the years since, but it is undeniable that this is just the beginning. The gambling industry is just starting to tap the potential of Facebook, a site which incidentally, has increased its users by around 400 million since this rule change. (

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