Blog Post

Zynga is getting closer to offering real-money gambling on Facebook

For all of Zynga’s(s zgna) talk about online betting, it looks like the company is finally taking some action.

Venturebeat reports that t0day, at an event in Barcelona, Zynga will unveil what it’s been working towards for the last year: a fully functional real-money gambling game. In addition, both ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino will have a home on the company’s original hit-maker, Facebook(s fb).

There’s no word on when the apps are coming out, but both will launch in the UK (where online gambling is legal) in a partnership with established poker company Bwin. Facebook users can access the traditional “social” version of the games — which means playing with in-game currency but not cashing-in your earnings — or access a special portal hosted by Bwin that includes all the benefits of online gambling.

To enter the real-gambling section, users will have to prove their birthdate (UK requires gamblers to be over 18), verify that the region they are in allows online betting, and then place a deposit to Bwin that covers any losses.

In addition to giving users a chance to win (and lose) real money, Zynga will offer promotional prizes to stay at hotels and casinos — leading the online gamblers to real felt tables.

Britain is the ideal test-case for Zynga, with it’s concentration of seasoned online gamblers contributing to a £2.3 billion ($3.4 billion) industry for the country. From there, the sights are no doubt set on the United States, which, despite its currently restrictive gambling laws, could be worth $9.3 billion by 2020.

ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino are the culmination of months of work at the struggling California gaming company, which has suffered declines in revenue and loss of personnel over the last few years. Unveiling the games would be the second piece of big news for the company in a week, the other being the appointment of former Microsoft exec Don Mattrick as CEO.

Zynga won’t be raking in the big money just yet — though if some US congresspeople have their way, it could come sooner rather than later. Bloomberg reports that Representative Peter King (R-N.Y) submitted a bill in June to eliminate federal regulation of online gambling. From there, states would be allowed to make their own rules, but the rollout is likely to be slow. Still, the fact that the games are even heading out the door and arriving on Facebook is a win for the company, which has had a strained relationship with the social network.