Making another brilliant business move, the social utility network known as Facebook has teamed up with the free online poker company Ujogo. The alliance was announced last week and will add another creative feature to the already massively successful website.
Facebook is a social networking site that was launched in February 2004. The founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is a former Harvard graduate that is now a self-made billionaire. The site currently has over 62 million members and is one of the top ten most visited sites on the Internet. Facebook has had similar online applications in the past but the decision to offer Ujogo poker on their site is a bold new move.
Ujogo will bring an interesting new twist to the Facebook experience not because it will offer poker – Facebook has had poker options in the past – but because it will be offering real money prizes for tournaments as well as Amazon gift cards for participation and performance in cash games. According to their website:
Ujogo was created to provide a fun, innovative, free and legal multi-player casual games experience, starting with poker. Ujogo is derived from "jogo", which is Portuguese for "game". The Ujogo team, all avid poker players and games enthusiasts, understands the value of the right platform, incentives and policies, all intended to drive highest quality, most entertaining and competitive games experience possible. Ujogo will never require a fee to play on our site.
Ujogo currently offers its services exclusively to US players. This comes as a comfort to those who felt like they were left in the dark after the passing of the UIGEA bill. Ujogo is able to maintain a legal status in the United States because players never use their own money to gamble with. Being that it is completely risk free, they have managed to escape the gray area created by US and state gambling laws.
Other sites have begun to catch on to the new market of free poker with real prizes. The World Poker Tour recently launched a subscription-based site that offers its clients cash and prizes based on a sweepstakes system. The virtual world Second Life, an avatar based program, also tried to include poker as one of the features on the site. They were forced to erase this feature because their virtual currency, the Linden Dollar, can be converted into real money.
These two websites working in conjunction with one another will surely prove to be a prosperous venture. Poker is an incredibly popular pastime with college students, and the vast majority of Facebook users are still university students. Surely the brilliant minds behind these two sites will find a way to make this alliance work and work well. More importantly, it will help other sites find ways to work around the UIGEA legislation.