Zynga Lands U.K. Partnership to Launch Real-Money Gaming Site

Zynga is announcing a real-money gaming partnership today, which it likely is hoping will distract investors from its third-quarter earnings report that we already know will be pretty grim.

Zynga said it is forming an exclusive partnership with bwin.party, a real-money gaming operator. This marks the company’s first move into real-money from the funny-money gaming it’s used to hosting on Facebook, through games like Poker.

The poker and casino games site in the U.K. will use Zynga’s branding and will launch with 180 games that the two companies have developed, including slots, roulette and blackjack. The company’s FarmVille brand will also be present in the form of a slots game.

The companies expect to launch in the first half of 2013, which lines up with what Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus has previously promised.

A year ago, Zynga started showing broad interest in casino games, and announced at a press event that the company was going to launch Zynga Casino, which would serve as a single destination on Facebook to build off its strong brand in poker. In January, it confirmed it was looking for a partnership to get into real-money gaming.

Of course, it makes sense for Zynga to start off in international markets since online gambling laws are still being cleared in the U.S. Zynga’s service in the U.K. will operate under bwin.party’s Gibraltar gaming license.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus