Online gaming company Zynga has been having a rough year, having recently closed several offices and laid off more than 500 workers in an increasingly competitive market. Now, the company is looking to expand beyond its established social games with a new set of online gambling apps for Facebook that allow players to use real money.
The games are launching in the U.K., where online gambling is legal. After disappointing earnings reports recently, Zynga shares rose about 2 percent following the announcement. The websites for ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino have already launched, while a Facebook version is expected in the next month, with mobile versions soon to follow.
Aside from its move away from more family-friendly social games like FarmVille and CityVille, Zynga also underwent an internal shake-up earlier this month, in which former Microsoft XBox division chief Don Mattrick replaced Zynga's founder Mark Pincus as CEO.
While this new gaming initiative may ultimately prove successful in the U.K., the U.S. currently does not allow online gambling -- with the exception of New Jersey and Nevada, which have recently legalized the practice. It may prove difficult for Zynga to match its earlier success with a product offering that is unavailable in the company's largest potential market.