Online gaming company Zynga today unveiled its online gambling apps for Facebook that use real money, a major part of the company’s revamp to expand beyond social games. The online gambling apps will be launched in the United Kingdom, where online gambling is legal. Zynga investors cheered the news, sending shares up by as much as 2% today.
The positive buzz is welcome after a rash of bad news that sent Zynga shares down this year. The company laid off more than 500 workers and closed offices in a major restructuring push. Zynga has also reported disappointing earnings amid increased competition and lackluster product development.
But its fortunes may be turning. In a surprising move earlier this month, Zynga named former Microsoft Xbox division head Don Mattrick as its new CEO. He replaced Zynga founder Mark Pincus. Zynga’s shares rallied on the news.
In terms of its new offerings, Zynga already launched poker and casino web sites using real money in the UK. There will also be mobile versions of those games, which will be launched later this year. The US, where New Jersey and Nevada recently passed laws allowing for online gambling, could also be a target for the company in the future.
It’s too early to say whether Zynga’s online gambling bet will pay off. But at least it’s given investors a glimmer of hope.