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RocketPlay launches ‘Sports Casino,’ the first social sports betting game on Zynga and Facebook

Sports Casino landing

Meet Sports Casino, the first sports betting game to land on on Facebook and Zynga.com, launched today by game publisher RocketPlay. 

Sports Casino is as close to online sports betting that you can get. It boasts an intuitive and easy to use interface that’s almost cartoonish, a characteristic shared by most social games, while keeping to the online sports betting roots. Real money here isn’t involved (just yet). Instead, Sports Casino serves as a practice ground of sorts for amateur and even professional sports betters who only have to risk in-game virtual currency.

“The game itself, what we’ve tried to do is to create a sports betting experience marrying what you’d see in the sports books in Las Vegas, with the online sports betting experience in regulated markets in the UK and Western Europe,” Matthew Cullen, president and CEO of RocketPlay, told Digital Trends in an interview.

Players can select the game that they’re interested in betting in and join a shared room, where odds, scores, runs, quarters are changing dynamically in real time based on the sporting event taking currently taking place. In fact, Cullen encourages Sports Casino players to watch the games on TV while placing bets and to interact with the other players in the room.

“Casinos,” “poker,” and “betting” are terms that have cropped up repeatedly with social gaming recently thanks to Zynga’s intention to jump into real-money gambling in the UK. And consequently, casino games are now viewed in a renewed light of opportunity for many gaming companies. With Zynga Poker and its extensive library of games serving Zynga’s 306 million monthly active players, Sports Casino has found a comfortable home, while expanding Zynga’s library of casino games.

Currently, Sports Casino allows users to bet on games in professional and college football, baseball, and English and Spanish soccer leagues.

Sports Casino Game Room

We were able to get a first-hand look at the game. And , seeing as how it’s a sports betting platform, it’s rather passive. The level of engagement that you’d like to get with Sports Casino will be left up to how much you intend to get out of it. What this means is that, unlike poker, which keeps you constantly watching the tables, sports betting often has downtime where you’re waiting for scores to update or the odds to change. Radio or even a video stream of the games would be ideal, as those of us that forgo paying for cable might want an alternative source for watching or even listening to the game — but, of course, licensing such content would be a costly endeavor for any start-up.

With this in mind, Sports Casino offers casino games in conjunction with sports bets. Players can bet on video poker, slots, blackjack, and other types of games that should occupy the time that you’re not spending betting on sports.

Sports betting and sports gaming are somewhat of an area of expertise for the team behind RocketPlay. The company was once known as Gamingo, and previously released other sports games with Zynga, including fantasy sports games, and sports management games. However, its existing fantasy sports and sports management titles will be discarded as RocketPlay focuses on bolstering what the company can offer with Sports Casino.

“As far as our fantasy business is concerned, we’ve pretty much pivoted from that business. We’ve learned a ton from it and know how to build sports related games and deal with sports related content and statistics, which we feel gave us a nice leg up in order to build a sports betting platform,” Cullen explained. “The rebranding was really a personal preference within the executives with the company,”

The company is taking Sports Casino one step at a time. RocketPlay is in the process of developing the mobile app for Sports Casino and hopes to add other sports including golf, tennis, cricket, and rugby.

Of course, the best way to garner revenue from a casino game is through real-money gambling. For RocketPlay, at least at the moment, the costs of acquiring a license for sports betting in the U.K. is too steep, and currently isn’t something that the company is focused on.

“We’re really focused on the social angle of sports betting,” Cullen said. “But we’re keeping a close eye on the real money side as it relates to Facebook and potentially other platforms that would allow it. We hope to be in a position to be able to do it.”