In August 2022, Facebook updated its real-money gaming and gambling advertising application process. The updated form streamlined some of the required information and still requires a legal opinion from a law firm. Additionally, Facebook requires details about protective measures like geo-location and KYC and detailed geographic targeting information, including states or territories being targeted. Skill-based gaming that awards real-money prizes is not considered gambling in a majority of the United States – but that conclusion requires a state-by-state legal analysis, as each state’s anti-gambling laws are different. Further, the laws change frequently in response to innovations like fantasy sports, legalization of online gambling, and the latest skill-based gaming tables.
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 prize 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 recently updated Online Real Money Gaming Onboarding Application Form. Advertisers are asked to submit their ID numbers, ad account numbers, the name of their business, and to select whether they are an “operator,” “aggregator/affiliate,” or an “agent/intermediary.”
Facebook then asks the applicant to submit the URLs they are seeking to advertise. This is a particularly important part of the review process, as the review team and Facebook’s lawyers will closely look at the website to ensure legal compliance.
Next, the applicant must select the specific “protective measures” that they implement to gate access to their product:
- Geo-blocking (gating) of the URL
- Age-gating of the URL
- Address verification software or process
- KYC checks
- Local cell phone number
- National tax ID number
- Any other measures, which must be specified
Applicants are then asked to select the country or countries that they targeting. Note that Facebook’s new rules allow only the following 36 countries to be targeted:
- Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.
Selecting a country is not enough. Applicants must then select the specific states or territories they are targeting. For example, selecting the United States requires the applicant to select the states in which they plan to advertise. Selecting some of the European or South American countries requires information about the specific type of gaming or gambling to be promoted.
The next question is “Do you require a gambling license?” If no, the advertiser is required to submit “a reasoned legal memo by a law firm attesting to the legality of the advertised gambling/gaming without a need for a license.” If you need such a legal opinion, contact Artaev at Law, as we have analyzed a number of skill-based games and have been providing “where is it legal” opinions to Facebook (and other platforms) since 2020.
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.
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 comprehensive online casino legislation and in the course of enacting the sweeping gambling laws, Michigan also included licensing requirements for skill-based real-money games.
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.
Have more questions? Do you need help getting your app through the Facebook review process? Contact Dan Artaev today by emailing email@example.com.
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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