Paddy Power takes a punt on 'unproven' Facebook betting
GAMBLING giant Paddy Power is betting that Facebook could be its next big money spinner.
The firm plans to roll out in the next few weeks what it said will be the first-ever product to offer "real-money" sports betting on the popular social network.
The move will be eagerly eyed by companies that have yet to find real ways to capitalise on Facebook.
"This is the first deal of its kind and it is as yet an unproven opportunity," said analyst Gavin Kelleher at Goodbody Stockbrokers. He said he didn't expect it to be material for Paddy Power from a financial point of view this year, but said the deal underlined the strength of its relationship with Facebook.
Paddy Power already closely monitors sites such as Facebook and Twitter to determine how much it's being talked about by consumers and to determine how effective marketing campaigns are.
The new gaming product, called 'Paddy Power In-Play!' is currently being trialled as a Facebook app for desktop users in the UK, which Facebook has chosen as the initial launch market for real-money gambling on its network.
The product will be widely launched using a beta, or test version, in the next few weeks, according to Paddy Power.
But Facebook users in Ireland will have to wait for the sports betting to be made available here. A spokeswoman for Paddy Power said there are no immediate plans for a launch in Ireland and that the system would probably be tested on other platforms such as smartphones before any deployment outside the UK was considered.
"The app will add social engagement to online betting, enabling customers to bet on a wide variety of sporting events through Facebook... Player participation will be subject to strict age verification checks," said Paddy Power.