November 1, 2022 3 min read


Dabble Weaponizes Facebook’s AI Chatbots to Acquire Customers

Facebook pages associated with a social gaming start-up and masked as tipsters were removed by Meta for violating its policies around online gambling following an investigation by The Australian Financial Review.

Masked as Tipster Services

“The Shark” and “Roughie Kings 2022” owned by the same entrepreneurs that founded Dabble, a social gaming start-up that recently received financial backing from Tabcorp, were removed by Meta for promoting online gambling and gaming in violation of the social media’s policies.

“All advertisers that promote online gambling and gaming are required to follow local applicable laws and get authorization from Meta ahead of commencing advertising,” a spokesperson for Meta said, explaining that the pages violating these policies have been removed.

Both pages targeted users with private messages generated by Facebook’s AI chatbots masked as humans, trying to lure them into signing up to Dabble and other gambling firms promising free tips and even taking as much as 30% of losses.

Built as a social betting app and aimed at the generation of young gamblers who would want to share tips with friends on Twitter and WhatsApp group chats, Dabble grew exponentially and in September, Australia’s biggest gambling company, Tabcorp, invested $33 million for a 20% stake in the start-up.

According to information provided to multiple press outlets by Dabble, the company has over 150,000 users already but what is interesting is the link between Dabble and LRI Group, a company operating Facebook pages and chatbots to channel users towards various gambling services and parent of LRI Media, as both entities are co-founded by the same people – Jonathan Robin and David Robin.

By claiming that the duo has no involvement in the day-to-day executions of campaigns, a spokesperson tried to dissociate Dabble and LRI Group, yet facts suggest otherwise as both Dabble and LRI Group were found in breach of gambling laws in New South Wales (NSW) but the NSW Office of Liquor and Gaming just warned both companies for offering customers inducements for joining gambling services.

Weaponizing Facebook Ads, Chatbots and Videos

AFR argued that the operating model implemented by Dabble and LRI Media is an example of how gambling industry operators intend to weaponize Facebook ads, chatbots and videos to generate new leads and acquire new customers, leaving questions about how many such pages they operate open.

The media also claims that users who received the messages during the Spring Racing carnival and clicked the “not interested” button continued to receive messages from the bots hours later.

Pages such as “Henry’s NBA Tips,” “King of the Roughies” and “Free AFL Tips” for which the owners cannot be identified also bought Facebook ads promising free tips to their users.

But a video promoting Dabble and posted on a male Facebook page claiming to be a safe place to talk about depression, anxiety and suicide, Bloke Advice, and featuring retired AFL star Heath Shaw shocked some of the users.

Some of them commented that promoting gambling on a supposedly mental health page was akin to marketing bottles of vodka to people leaving an AA meeting.

Lead Author

With 4 years experience as an analyst, Julie—or ‘Jewels’, as we aptly refer to her in the office—is nothing short of a marvel-worthy in her attention to the forex and cryptocurrency space as she quickly became the first pick to co-pilot education to the masses with Mike.

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