Zynga has taken a formal step toward U.S. real-money gambling by making a preliminary application to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. It was a logical move, since the company has already stated its interest and had hired Maytal Olsha, formerly senior vice president at legal online gambling company 888 Holdings, in September.
Zynga seeks to join the growing number of companies preparing to go live as soon as it is legal to do so. Preliminary approval for an online gambling license has already been obtained by MGM, Boyd Gaming, Golden Nugget, South Point, Fertitta Interactive and Caesars Entertainment Interactive.
Zynga expects the licensing process to take less than 18 months, by which time it will be operating real-money casino games in the United Kingdom following its deal with Gibraltar-based gaming company bwin.party.
The Nevada legislature is considered likely to approve online real-money games, while Delaware and New Jersey have it under consideration. Many in the casino industry were waiting for clarification of federal laws regarding gambling, which came when U.S. Justice Department determined that only online sports gambling was strictly illegal.
The news came in a statement from Zynga chief revenue officer Barry Cottle. “Zynga has filed its Application for a Preliminary Finding of Suitability from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. This filing continues our strategic effort to enter regulated RMG markets in a prudent way,” he said. “As we’ve said previously, the broader U.S. market is an opportunity that’s further out on the horizon based on legislative developments, but we are preparing for a regulated market.”
CEO Mark Pincus has a lot riding on this move, with CEO Mark Pincus asking disappointed investors to hold until Zynga Poker and its other casino games’ players can ante dollars instead of tokens.
Nevada State Gaming Commission – http://gaming.nv.gov
Wall Street Journal – Zynga Takes Gambling Step in Nevada
Forbes – Zynga Looks To Gamble On Nevada
Poker News – Zynga Moves Toward Real-Money Gambling in Nevada