Zynga has taken a big step to start offering online poker games for real money.
It may be better known for its FarmVille and CityVille games but Zynga is looking to revive its struggling fortunes with a big bet on poker.
The social games developer has filed with the state of Nevada for a license to operate real money online poker games for state residents, joining other companies such as MGM and Caesars that are hoping to cash in on the online poker boom.
Zynga has seen its fortunes fall dramatically in the last year; the one-time darling of the online world raised over $1 billion in an IPO but has seen its stock price crater as earnings have been disappointing and many top executives have abandoned ship.
The company is now banking on its very first game -- Zynga Poker -- to perhaps be its last-ditch chance to score a big jackpot and turn things around, with its application filed with the state of Nevada the first step in the process to offer an online poker site for real money gambling.
The process will take more than a year before Zynga could be up and running with a site and the market would be limited to Nevada residents, as current US federal law prohibits online poker sites.
Several states such as Nevada have taken the initiative and crafted their own laws to allow for online poker for state residents, with Nevada the first to set up a regulatory framework and start awarding licenses to operate games.
Zynga claims a user base of more than 30 million players for Zynga Poker but a very small fraction of those would live in Nevada and be over the age of 18.
Zynga has also announced a partnership with online gambling firm bwin.party that might bear more fruit, with Zynga using that company's technology to help launch an online poker and casino site for real money available to players in the UK; that site is planned to be launched and open by the first half of 2013.