SAN FRANCISCO - Zynga CEO Mark Pincus may have an
ace up his sleeve after all to save the troubled social games company he
UltimatePoker.com on Tuesday delivered Nevada residents a
first taste of real-money Internet gambling, a move that could soon be
dealt up by Zynga - not to mention others in high-tech, such as
payment-processors like PayPal.
"It's a significant opportunity for Zynga," IDC analyst Lewis Ward says of the company's online gambling prospects.
of dollars could be in the offing after Ultimate Gaming, a Las
Vegas-based casino operation, launches the first fully legal poker
website in the USA. The move could portend the next chapter in gambling
nationwide, since the Justice Department cracked down on Internet poker
Sports gambling, if legalized, could be the mother lode
of revenue, estimated at a nearly $400 billion business. That could
prove a massive boon for the likes of PayPal and other payments
"It's estimated that $380 billion is wagered on sports
in the U.S. and only about $3 billion of it is legal because only in
Nevada can you wager on sports betting," says Joseph Kelly, a professor
of business law at SUNY College at Buffalo.
Zynga needs a little
lady luck right now. Struggling Zynga last week reported a double dose
of bad news: an 18% revenue slide coupled with a 13% dive in monthly
active users from a year ago.
Pincus has one hefty play in Zynga's wildly popular online poker game. While Texas HoldEm Poker doesn't yet permit real money gambling, the game boasts 30.2 million monthly active users, according to AppData.
on mobile platforms, casino-type games in general - card games, slot
games and dice-based games - were hot. Such games landed in the top
three genres for revenue worldwide in 2012, for both Apple's iOS and
"The challenge there is that the rules for enabling
those Internet gambling games haven't been set up on a federal level,
and it's now state by state," says P.J. McNealy, founder of Digital
Zynga filed an application late last year
for a license with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, a process that could
take up to 18 months.
H2 Gambling Capital forecasts that by 2017
the U.S. market could hit $7.4 billion, based on recent legislation
passed in several states that support online gambling.
Forecasting Internet gambling for the U.S. is somewhat dicey, however, because it is such a nascent market, cautions McNealy.
New Jersey and Delaware are just scratching the surface," says Kelly of
those permitting Internet gambling. "A number of other states are
Also standing by is eBay division PayPal. It
processes gambling-related payments in the U.K. and other countries
where gambling is legal. In the U.S., however, it does not because there
is no uniform federal law. "If that were to change, there is no reason
why we wouldn't do it (in the U.S.)," says PayPal spokesman Anuj Nayar.
The company does not disclose the size of its gambling-related
Zynga is also wagering on a stake of virtual casino
dollars in the U.K. Under a deal there with Bwin.Party Digital
Entertainment, Zynga this month launched its online poker and casino
games for real money in the U.K.
Regulated real-money Internet gambling reached a nearly $30 billion market worldwide in 2012, according to H2 Gambling Capital.