Facebook remains the dominant social media platform with an astounding 2.85 billion worldwide users reported in the first quarter of 2021. In the United States alone there are 190 million active accounts, second only to India’s 330 million. Because of its influence and integration into our day-to-day lives, Facebook is an indispensable advertising tool and promotional mechanism for many industries, including real-money skill-gaming. However, Facebook has strict rules and regulations for advertising games that involve real money, and its review process is not always quick, predictable, or straightforward.
Facebook considers all types of real-money gaming “restricted” content, meaning that Facebook must expressly approve your ad before it runs. Whether it is full-scale online casino gambling, poker, fantasy sports, or pure skill contests, the requirements are the same:
- Ads that promote online gambling, and gaming where anything of monetary value (including cash or digital/virtual currencies, e.g. bitcoin) is required to play and anything of monetary value forms part of the prize, are only allowed with our prior written permission. This includes games where purchases are required to continue game play and/or provide advantage in winning prizes, in cases where the prize is of monetary value. Authorized advertisers must follow all applicable laws, including targeting their ads in accordance with legal requirements. At a minimum, ads may not be targeted to people under 18 years of age.
Clicking on “Apply for Permission” takes you to the Online Real Money Gaming Onboarding Application Form. That application requires you to fill out an RMG (real money gaming) Questionnaire and execute an addendum agreeing to abide by additional requirements in creating a gaming ad and gaming pages. Finally, unless you are a casino app with a gambling license (which you must provide), Facebook requires a legal memo to support your skill-based game classification.
Specifically, you need “a written opinion from qualified outside legal counsel that your game complies with all legal requirements in the jurisdictions in which you operate or allow game play.” If you need such a legal opinion, contact Artaev at Law, as we have analyzed a number of skill-based games and provided a number of “where is it legal” opinions. A lot depends on the specifics of your game – for example, is the game more like fantasy sports or a pure skill contest? Also, even the bigger companies in the skill-based gaming industry disagree on the states where their games are permitted. Many states are currently addressing unlicensed skill-based gaming and regulations are constantly changing. For example, Michigan recently passed full-scale online casino legislation and in the course of enacting the sweeping gambling laws, Michigan also included licensing requirements for skill-based real-money games.
What goes into a legal opinion? At a minimum, the legal opinion will set forth a legal analysis of each state’s applicable laws and regulations (including case law) that support skill-based gaming in that state. The legal opinion should also address the applicable federal statutes and explain why they do not prohibit the game in question. Also, the legal opinion needs to explain the particular game’s mechanisms, why the outcome is not determined by chance, and how the various laws apply or not apply to the game in question. Finally, the memorandum must be from “qualified legal counsel,” which means it should be signed by a licensed attorney with experience in the gaming industry.
Facebook remains a powerful advertising medium. Access to that medium is not free nor easy, especially if you are advertising a “restricted” product like skill-based real-money gaming. Ultimately, Facebook and its legal teams determine what ads meet its advertising policies. To minimize the review time and increase your chances of an approval, contact the experienced gaming attorneys at Artaev at Law PLLC.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be and does not constitute legal advice. It is for informative and promotional purposes only. Do not take any action or refrain from taking any action based on this guide, and always consult with a qualified professional about the circumstances of your particular case. Each set of facts is unique and different circumstances apply to each individual business.
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