Online gambling: Zynga bets on real-money games to bring in the cash with UK launch

zynga real-money gamblingUK-based online gamblers will have two more ways to play with their money from today as Zynga launches real-money games ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino.

According to a Zynga blog post on the eve of the launch, ZyngaPlusPoker is an online poker room offering players a wide range of games and tournaments with buy-ins at all levels.

ZyngaPlusCasino, meanwhile, is aimed at fans of slot machines – or fruit machines as they’re more commonly known in Britain – with players able to choose from over 160 different slot games.

There’s also a variety of table games to choose from, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat and video poker. FarmVille fans are also catered for, with the launch of the first ever slot game based on the popular farming simulation social network game.

Gamblers over the age of 18 who register to play the games can do so on the Web or via a download version, with gamers able to utilize a single wallet across both platforms. Mobile versions and Facebook integration could come later.

‘Exciting move’

Barry Cottle, Zynga’s chief revenue officer, said in the blog post the launch of the new games was an “exciting move” for the company and one which “brings players the real-money games they have been asking us for.”

Cottle said the company’s long-term vision is “to offer our players the next generation of real-money games on multiple platforms in regulated markets worldwide.”

He added, “This is just the beginning for us and we’re looking forward to seeing what our UK players think about ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino.”

The FarmVille creator signaled its intention to move into the realm of real-money gambling last August when it hired Maytal Ginzburg, then a senior figure at 888 Holdings, one of the largest online gambling holdings in the world. The company hopes its new gambling venture will help to turn its business around as it seeks to boost revenue in the face of a dwindling user base for its online social games.

Big money?

According to research by SuperData last year, Zynga may be on to something. Its Social Casino Metrics report suggested that revenue from real-money social game gambling could reach $2.4 billion in 2015, with the average social gambler spending almost double that of the average social game player.

“With declining margins in the overall social games segment, casino-style games offer a healthy growth potential,” SuperData’s VP Janelle Benjamin said following the publication of its findings.

The gambling games are being offered by Zynga in partnership with UK-based online gaming company Digital Entertainment.

While online gambling is still prohibited in most US states, it’s possible a change in regulations is on the way, giving Zynga, and other companies in the same business, access to a huge and potentially lucrative market. The UK rollout is certainly an excellent opportunity for Zynga to test the water and get its model right in preparation for introducing the real-money games to other countries in the future.

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