Zynga Calls Out Bingo as It Gets More Serious About Casino Games

Zynga is getting close to launching Bingo, its second casino game on Facebook, which could serve as a precursor to the company’s more official online gambling business.

Last week, Zynga confirmed to All Things D that it was actively investigating online gambling opportunities and is in talks with several partners.

The San Francisco social games company said Bingo is launching today in closed beta, and in the coming weeks will be available to everyone on Facebook. The game will become part of a larger franchise called Zynga Casino, which was announced in October.

Zynga’s version of the game is similar to the classic version found in bingo halls, where players watch for numbers as they pop up and mark them off on their scorecard. The first player to spell out B-I-N-G-O wins. In Zynga’s version of the game, players can compete against friends.

But for now, the closest the game gets to gambling is the casino theme.

Zynga dominates Facebook’s game chart today, but if it is able to get its toe in the door to online gambling — just as the laws change in the U.S. — it could be a big opportunity.

The casino genre has also been quietly racking up big numbers on Facebook for areas such as slots, card games and roulette. In particular, Zynga has been phenomenally successful with poker. Five years ago, it launched Texas HoldEm Poker, which continues to attract close to seven million users a day and is one of the company’s top three revenue-generating titles.

Zynga is not the only one investigating how to enter online gambling, potentially leveraging the popularity of social networks.

Video poker giant International Game Technology recently purchased Seattle-based Double Down Interactive for 500 million; Double Down develops games, including blackjack, slots, video poker and roulette. Caesars Entertainment also entered the space when it purchased Playtika, an Israeli game company known for its Facebook title, Slotomania.

Zynga’s Bingo game is not dissimilar to versions already on Facebook, such as BitRhymes’ Bingo Bash and Buffalo Studios’ Bingo Blitz.

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