Zynga’s Gamble Pays Off

Social media gaming guru Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) took a gamble — literally, and figuratively — and judging by investor response, the gamble has paid off. Following the announcement that the firm was offering real-currency online gambling in the U.K., Zynga shares have soared as much as 15 percent on Wednesday.

The company, which grew to fame and fortune on hugely popular Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)-based games like FarmVille, have launched a casino suite where participants can gamble with real money, online. The site accepts payments in American and Canadian dollars, as well as euros and Japanese yen, in addition to British pounds. The games were launched across the Atlantic because although online gambling is legal in many places in the world, the U.S. is not one of them.

The new ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino games are being offered in partnership with London-listed bwin.party, one of the U.K.’s market leaders in online gambling. Players will have access to various poker, slot machine and table games such as Blackjack and Roulette, CNN said.

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“Our long term vision is to offer our players the next generation of real money games on multiple platforms in regulated markets worldwide,” said Zynga’s chief revenue officer, Barry Cottle in a company blog post.

Zynga was getting desperate for a refresh, as it has closed down over a dozen Facebook-based games since October. Despite upward trends in its stock this month, its current price of about $3.50 is still 65 percent below its initial offering price of $10, when Zynga went public in December of 2011. Shares are still nearly 80 percent below the all-time high they hit in March of 2012.

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