While Zynga’s planned foray into real money gambling is still a long way off, the company has been hard at work reinventing slots for the social web. According to an interview with Polygon, its upcoming Elite Slots is trying to tap into social psychology and cognitive neuroscience to give players what they want: a sense of control, progression toward goals, and a social connection. The free-to-play Facebook game adds an RPG element to what would otherwise be a cut and dry spin-to-win mechanic; letting players choose an animal avatar (pictured above) with individual strengths and weaknesses, and "fight" against bosses at the end of each level.

With Zynga’s fortunes sinking, the company is hoping that it can bring its success with social games to online gambling, retaining lobbyists to plead its case in Washington in California, and forming a UK venture with casino site bwin.party. The company has previously said that another gambling-themed game, Zynga Poker, is its second most lucrative title despite the fact that its players can't wager real money.