We even had a day in early 2004 where some unnamed wealthy individuals had a high stakes game of Texas Hold 'em which moved enough L$ around to distort our statistics.
Virtually all poker sites have allow you to play using "play money".
Virtual currency already has existed for a long time already, even outside the world of computers. For example, the small change bank cards you can charge and pay with (like Proton in Belgium, http://www.atosworldline.be/index/en_US/5118014/0000/Proton....), that's virtual money. So are strip cards to pay fares on city buses, and the photo vending machines in some shops where your payment gets deducted from a prepaid card.
So what's new here: that it's for use inside a website, or that it's being used for gambling?
I think even Ultima Online had prepaid cards. That's 1996.
It's hard to see how zynga wouldn't know about this.
Nope. Your money has gone into a black hole in the internet forever.
Here is basically what they want to patent:
Purchasing virtual currency with real currency where the virtual currency cannot be returned to real currency into a gamgling game.
Using the virtual currency in the gamble and deducting/awarding the user appropriately.
2 claims that say the same thing: associating a virtual item to 2 users (implying that a virtual item can change hands, wow what an innovation zynga, thanks) and purchasing a virtual item with virtual currency
Transfering virtual currency and in the process verifying a social connection, between 2 users and placing a limit on how often they can do this.
Software patents need to be invalidated but we'll get into that later
I will be doing a live stream or a local recording of me trying to implement this "innovation" to be "defended" for ~20 years in the interests of the progression of science and arts in the shortest ammount of time
Forumwarz launched in 2007. You can buy brownie points with real currency. The brownie points can be converted into the game's currency, Flezz, which can then be gambled through conversations with GambleBot, a robot you can speak to via IM in the game.
Your winnings can be used to purchase virtual items, those items can be traded with other players through our auction house (the auction house was added in 2009, I believe).
There are limits on how you can trade the virtual items to discourage people just buying their way to the top of the game.
Obviously I'm not a lawyer but I feel like if our game isn't exactly prior art, it's pretty damn close!
^on september 17 as the site scrolls listings
Senior Patent Counsel is the first listing. Looks like they might have found someone
Most people seem to be talking about this game already does this or that and xxx is virtual money blah blah. From my understanding the patent is for virtual currency in gambling games which almost no-one seems to have noticed. I mean, don't get me wrong I'm sure there is a lot of prior art for this patent but it just strikes me as strange that so many people would bring up seemingly irrelevant arguments.
While it might not affect all pre-existing social games, if the above is true then it limits what they can do with their game.
This was filed in September of this year which means it'll be... 2014 by the earliest that it'll be approved / denied, and won't even get looked at for 2 years yet. Plenty of time for obvious prior art to be shown.
 traditional total pendency: http://www.uspto.gov/dashboards/patents/main.dashxml