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Facebook Sets Restrictions on Online Gambling Ads

Facebook has updated and is now enforcing their gambling and gaming service marketing policy.  In order to feature ads that promote online gambling and gaming, advertisers now need to request prior written permission from Meta to do so. The request must include evidence that the subject gambling and/or gaming activities are duly licensed by regulators or otherwise lawful in the geographic locations or territories that they target. Not surprisingly, the stated policy does not allow companies to direct online gambling and gaming ads at anyone under 18 years of age. Companies looking to, or continuing to, advertise these services on Facebook will certainly need the help of an experienced Internet marketing attorney to comply with the Facebook gambling policy restrictions.

What Activities Does the Facebook Gambling Policy Cover?

Facebook’s stated policy applies to all forms of online gambling. For example, the restrictions indicate that companies must direct written requests to Meta to run advertising of “common types of gambling” on Facebook, such as “betting, lotteries, raffles, casino games, fantasy sports, bingo, poker, skill game tournaments and sweepstakes [emphasis added].” The Facebook gambling policy further outlines the types of games that come within its purview: “games where anything of monetary value is included as part of a method of entry and anything of monetary value is included as part of the prize . . . .” In addition, the restrictions cover games that require purchases to continue playing, or which give a participant an advantage to win. 

Why Sweepstakes Promotions Should Not Violate Facebook’s Gambling Policy

If you set up a sweepstakes marketing campaign correctly, your sweepstakes promotion will not violate Facebook’s gambling restrictions. In fact, for a sweepstakes promotion to be lawful, would-be participants must not be required to “pay to play,” and if there is a monetary fee required for entry, there must also be a free, alternative means of entry (“AMOE”). The Facebook online gambling policy lists promotions that do NOT come within the purview of the governing policy, including games that are entirely free-to-play. As a footnote of sorts, the policy explains that advertisers must also comply with applicable state and federal laws when running such online gambling ads.

Promotions that do not need Prior Permission under Facebook’s Gambling Restrictions

Businesses that run advertisements promoting a physical, actual-money gambling activity or entity, such as a “brick and mortar” casino, would not come within the ambit of Facebook’s gambling restrictions. Significantly, ads that promote entertainment events at physical casinos, or the streaming of offline poker tournaments also do not require prior approval. Readers should note that businesses must be clear about what the Facebook gambling policy covers and what it does not, as well as how to comply.

How to Safely Comply with Facebook’s Gambling Policy

Companies seeking to advertise online gambling and gaming services on Facebook must request permission by filling out a form provided on the site. The form instructions indicate, among other things, that applicants must disclose the URLs that they intend to advertise, as well as the geographic territory that will be targeted. If permission is granted, authorization will be limited to those specific URLs and territories, and apply only to the Ad Accounts that are listed in the subject applications.

Complying with marketing regulations may appear simple at first glance. Unfortunately, as many contest sponsors have learned over the years, this is anything but the case. As such, businesses should seek counsel before running any contest promotion to avoid potential social media, regulatory and legal challenges. If you are interested in learning more about this topic or require assistance with Facebook gambling or gaming advertising, please email us at info@kleinmoynihan.com, or call us at (212) 246-0900.

The material contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.

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