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Zynga bets the farm (ville) on UK poker, roulette web den

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FarmVille maker Zynga has announced it will run poker tournaments and other casino games online in the UK.

Brits will be the first on the planet to gamble actual cash with the internet gaming biz, we're told. The e-gambling den will be run in partnership with operator bwin.party under a Gibraltar gaming licence.

Desktop and web versions of the games, ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino, are available from today. Mobile and Facebook flavours are promised to arrive later this year.

Publicly traded Zynga, ruled by co-founder Mark Pincus, has also applied for a gambling licence from the Gaming Control Board in Nevada, the first US state to grant licences to websites to run poker games within a limited geographical area.

But Zynga wants a "regulated market" to emerge in America before it will operate an online casino in that part of the world. That probably explains why the company chose to launch its real-money card tournaments and roulette tables in the UK.

"Our long-term vision is to offer our players the next generation of real money games on multiple platforms in regulated markets worldwide," the company declared in a blog post.

Zynga has been seeking new ways to make some dosh since Facebook distanced itself from the gaming company last year: Zynga's early hit FarmVille debuted on the social network, but then Facebook threw open its doors to other games makers and ended its exclusive chummy relationship with Zynga. As of 31 March, the games outfit must adhere to Facebook's app rules just like everyone else.

And Pincus' biz isn't the first US Web 2.0 outfit to offer gambling options to UK folk: Facebook already punts real-money gaming apps to "responsible" players in the country. ®

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