Zynga Launches Real-Money Poker on Facebook as Stock Plunges


Social gaming giant Zynga followed through with plans to launch real-money poker on Facebook this week. Poker players in the United Kingdom will now be able to play on Facebook through the Zynga Poker product, which utilizes the software of partypoker.

Zynga entered the real-money poker market in the U.K. last year after partnering up with partypoker parent company bwin.party. Zynga's real-money poker customers in the U.K. joined bwin.party's player liquidity pool, and while the hope was to see a large boost in traffic, the results were disappointing.

The new Zynga Poker app still uses the partypoker software and player pools, but it is now fully integrated into Facebook.

Last summer, Zynga scrapped plans to enter the U.S. online gambling market, electing instead to focus its effort on free-to-play social games. Newly appointed Zynga CEO Don Mattrick said at the time that the company was still evaluating its real-money gaming products in the U.K., but that the company's biggest opportunity was to focus on free-to-play social games.

With the U.S. expanding state-by-state Internet poker legislation, time will tell if Zynga changes its mind again and looks to enter the RMG market.

Zynga's stock plunged on Thursday after an analyst at Sterne Agee released a negative report on the company's estimated fourth-quarter earnings from 2013. The report also laid out gloomy expectations for the quarter ahead, slashing Q1 2014 estimates across the board.

After emerging as the global leader in social gaming years ago, Zynga's free-to-play product is now facing stiff competition in companies like King (Candy Crush Saga), Rovio (Angry Birds) and even Disney. Zynga also recently announced that it is shutting down popular game YoVille in order to focus its efforts on new games, a decision that was met with criticism from many customers.

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