Zynga Folds for Online Gambling

29 Jul 2013 | 02:26 Author: Seth Shafer

Zynga players in the U.S. who had hoped to play poker and casino games for real money had their hopes dashed last week.

Zynga had started the process of applying for approval to offer real-money gambling games in Nevada and New Jersey, two of the first U.S. states to pass their own state laws to make online gambling legal.

Hopes were high from Zynga investors, company executives, and players alike that the company and its millions of players could make a big splash in the world of real money gambling. Zynga Poker and its 30 million active players is the biggest poker platform on the planet, far larger than PokerStars.

The hitch, though, was that Zynga Poker only offers the chance to compete for play chips and the company had absolutely zero experience in operating in the regulated world of online gambling. 

Zynga has also been struggling mightily overall in recent quarters, with players abandoning its games for newer hits from companies such as King.com and SuperCell. A new CEO was brought into Zynga from Microsoft, with Don Mattrick joining the company from Microsoft.

Mattrick unveiled his turnaround plan last week when Zynga announced its second quarter earnings and surprised many with the news that Zynga was abandoning its efforts to launch real-money gambling in the U.S. The company said it might still pursue some real-money gaming partnerships abroad but that it wouldn't be venturing into online gambling in the U.S. after all.

Under Mattrick's leadership the company hopes to focus instead on its core strengths of casual social games such as FarmVille, leaving other companies to brave the tricky waters of online gambling.

Ultimate Gaming was the first legal U.S. poker site to launch several months ago in Nevada, with a host of other sites gearing up and waiting for approval to start offering real-money poker and casino games themselves.

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