Casino by Zeniz offers generic play, but with a nice social twist

Plenty of allegedly social casino games are out on the market that don’t have a firm grasp on the social part. The United States Playing Card Company and developer digi117 hope to avoid that particular pitfall with Casino by Zeniz, a new mobile gaming platform that emphasizes the interactive features of its versions of popular casino games.

Eventually the plan is for Casino by Zeniz to add a new game every two months, but for starters players will have to content themselves with two staples: slots and Texas Hold ‘Em poker. Your bankroll of virtual chips can be used for either game, and since Casino operates on a freemium model, additional chips can be purchased for real currency.

Both of the games in the slots room are multiplayer affairs. The Tropical Resort game is closer to a real life slot machine, complete with 25 pay lines, wild symbols and scattered bonus symbols that award free spins. It can be played in cooperative mode, where players can earn each other bonuses, or tournament style with a winner-takes-all jackpot – put together thanks to a buy-in from each participant – that is awarded to the person who’s won the most chips after five minutes.

The Social Slot is something else entirely, with four reels that spin with the icons (either one of a selection of templates or your Facebook profile picture, if you choose to log in that way) of up to nine players instead of the usual symbols. Wagers can be made on any of the other players’ icons, but there are no instructions on exactly how this works, and the whole thing is fairly baffling. On top of that, neither slot machine has the kinds of animated bonus rounds that people have come to expect.

No such confusion or disappointment exists in the poker room, where straightforward no limit hold ‘em is on the menu. Players can choose from six or nine-handed games with two different speeds and a variety of stakes to suit anyone’s risk tolerance. Hands play out easily enough thanks to action buttons at the bottom of the screen to raise, call or fold and a tap-and-slide bar to control bet sizes. It’s an interface very similar to the one you’d find at Poker Stars or Party Poker. Uhh… not that we’d know from personal experience or anything. ;)

Casino by Zeniz

A leaderboard keeps track of the biggest pots won at the table, and crowns are awarded to players for feats like winning the most total chips or the greatest number of consecutive hands. Conspicuous by its absence is a chat window, a standard feature on any online poker site.

Especially amicable players can be added to a friends list out in the lobby, so you can locate them at the tables or slots in the future. A tab for social links enables you to give the game access to your Facebook profile, but be forewarned: the game asks for just about every permission it’s possible for an app to have.

The developers and the United States Playing Card Company are no doubt hoping for widespread use of the Facebook links and all of the other social elements, because they’ve gone all-in on those facets of the game. Casino isn’t going to wow anyone solely on the basis of its slots or poker play, so the draw here has to be the opportunity to play with and against other people.

Casino by Zeniz

It’s a good effort on that front, and more so than most mobile casino games, there’s plenty of untapped potential that can be realized through continued content updates. For example, it would be great to see what the games creators could dream up to put a social spin on blackjack and roulette.

Until then, Casino by Zeniz is going to sink or swim based mostly on how many people needed more company while they played slots and poker on the go. Here’s hoping there are plenty of lonely players out there.