Live cash betting will be available on the social network for the first time as Paddy Power teams up with Facebook on a sports gambling launch.
The gambling company and the social media giant have test-launched the concept with 2,000 users in Britain. "We hope to launch more broadly in the next six to eight weeks depending on the learnings from that," Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy told the Sunday Independent.
It spent 12 months developing the concept with its in-house techies in Ireland and Bulgaria, to make real-money sports and in-play (ie mid-game) betting available on the social network. It is the first company in the world to do so.
Social media is an immense potential market and one the betting and gaming technology firm is investing heavily in. "In the US alone, consumers spend what amounts to 100,000 years in one month on Facebook, and betting is an inherently social activity," said Mr Kennedy.
"There's no doubt that the online consumer is consuming social media disproportionately.
"People won't be able to see each other's stakes or their winnings, but they will be able to see if they choose to: bet selections you're making, the hot index of who's doing well, they'll be able to challenge bets, laugh at bets.
"It gives people complete flexibility on what they do or don't open up to," said Mr Kennedy.
Markets are not just about geography any more, with online platforms like Facebook and Twitter viewed as potential market territories in their own right.
The Paddy Power brand has 10 million Facebook fans and 250,000 Twitter followers. It also has a partnership with Twitter with prospects for future offerings there.
Online revenue as a whole makes up 20 per cent of its business, and is rising rapidly. And within that, online mobile will represent 90 per cent growth in the next five years, the company predicts.
Discussions with a big casino venture partner for the US market continue ahead of planned legalisation of online gambling in some states, such as New Jersey and California.
The company has also installed a small development team on the ground in Asia – a potential multi-billion megamarket where regulated.