Christian groups in Britain have expressed anger over the release of a new Facebook app that allow players to gamble with real money, saying its cartoon branding breaches rules designed to protect children.
Bingo Friendzy, which has been developed by the British online gambling company Gamesys, allows players to stake cash in 90 bingo and slot machine games.
The app is marketed with cartoon graphics featuring characters that have been compared to those on Moshi Monsters, the popular children’s social network.
Christian groups, who have expressed outrage over the launch of the new app, have called on the Advertising Standards Authority to act, The Telegraph reports.
“Gambling is age-restricted for a reason: children are excluded because they are vulnerable,” the paper quoted Toby Scott, director of communications for the Methodist Church, as saying.
“It is especially concerning that Bingo Friendzy’s visual marketing is the kind that you see in children’s games, with bright colours and friendly characters,” he said.
“This appears to be a blatant breach of the ASA’s Gambling Advertising rules, which clearly state that marketing ‘should not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture'',” he added.
Facebook says that only members who have registered their age as over 18 will be able to access Bingo Friendzy.
Scot, however, pointed out that the social network does not verify such information.
According to the paper, his concerns were echoed by the Mother’s Union, a Christian charity.
“It is well known that Facebook has over one million under-age users. Whilst we acknowledge the age-verification system Gamesys has put in place, we are concerned that this may incentivise young people to find ways to access this site once they see constant wall updates promoting online gambling,” a spokesman said.