Internet social media phenom Facebook is now officially valued at $50 billion, according to the Independent, after a pair of huge investments by Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies.

And with the success of casual social games like Zynga’s FarmVille, overall US social gaming revenues are projected at $1.09 billion this year, per eMarketer (via MNI).

Impressive — but what’s it mean to casino affiliates?

Besides potentially setting up Facebook as a search engine that could finally rival Google, the site’s social games could also offer a glimpse into the future of online poker.

Facebook is in the forefront of a new generation of online gaming. Although there’s no gambling allowed, many of the quickly rising gaming companies have developed poker games.

A lot of other companies are developing Facebook-style social games: An interactive poker game just rolled out on Xbox Live, and PokerStars’ “home games” allow players to play against groups of friends on the site. PokerStars’ game is for money, and so different from the examples above — but it’s approach to poker as social gaming is in line with what’s happening on Facebook right now.

“Although the feature will likely appeal to PokerStars players of all experience levels, Greg Raymer (a noted pro sponsored by Team PokerStars) feels that Home Games will be especially attractive to new players who might prefer to play against their friends as opposed to strangers,” notes

“As such, Home Games could act as a natural bridge between the intimacy of live home games and the anonymity and skill level diversity of standard online play.”

That’s pretty much exactly what these other sites would like to offer someday, when Internet poker is regulated in the U.S. When that day comes, Facebook is almost sure to be at forefront of social poker games.

Does that mean a new market for poker affiliates, or the loss of their existing market? That remains to be seen, but growing social marketing presence wouldn’t be a bad idea for any casino affiliate out there.

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