Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA), the social gaming operator, recently launched Zynga Poker Leagues, updating its flagship poker app. This is a new competitive feature designed especially for the purpose of delivering a free-to-play variant of an authentic, live casino experience.

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Poker Leagues – the new feature

A poker league season lasts for eight weeks, and players compete with a pool of around 100 other players, according to a blog post. In order to move up the leader board, the players are required to accumulate League Points. However, to enter sweepstakes and win real-world prizes, a player need not be in a league, earn league points or spend money in the game i.e anyone could enter to win the prizes.

Players stand a chance to win holidays and electronic gadgets, and can also unlock a Ford Shelby GT500 as the grand prize. For this they will be required to make contributions in small portions of in-game winnings and reach a total of 250 billion chips; the point at which the grand prize becomes available.

Zynga revitalizing casino franchise

Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s casino franchise has Zynga Poker as its core product and to revitalize it, the operator has made the latest move of launching tournament play. The Zynga casino franchise still remains the most popular social casino game on the market, but growth had been slowing down, so a revitalization is needed.

In March, using feedback given by players, a ‘completely reimagined’ version of the game was developed and made available for mobile for the first time. The range of slot games has been expanded with the launch of a new game Hit it Rich! The mobile app Riches of Olympus has also been launched, and both these new games were developed by Zynga’s Chicago-based Spooky Cool Labs subsidiary.

Pokerscount.com reports that Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) holds the top position among the play money Poker sites. The second position is held by PokerStars and Full Tilt comes in third.

Real money poker is licensed in the U.K. market and therefore has been offered by Zynga there, but has not expanded to other markets. The latest real money poker expansion by Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) was the offering of a portal through long-term partner Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).

Update: last two lines of the first para under the sub-heading ‘Poker Leagues – the new feature’ has been updated to reflect that anyone could enter to sweepstakes to win.