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Zynga Throws Money At Stagnant Web Poker Efforts

Begins Lobbying In California and On Capitol Hill, WSJ Reports


Zynga Inc. has started to lobby for real-money Internet gambling. It is doing so in Washington, D.C. and California, according to the Wall Street Journal.

However, bills in both places are huge long shots at the present time. Some industry insiders say a national online poker measure is perpetually drawing dead. California is set to flunk again amidst years of trying, but most think some compromise will eventually be brokered in the Golden State.

Opponents of California’s web poker proposal that’s currently on the table say that it would let outside interests take advantage of the state. Zynga is based in San Fransisco.

Most Internet gaming companies prefer a federal regime, but are hedging their bets on the viability of a state-by-state patchwork. Nevada has legalized and is on the verge of such an industry, but Zynga has not applied there, although it seems likely it will do so eventually.

There have been reports that Zynga is looking to hook up with Wynn Resorts in the Silver State. The law of the land there states that Zynga could not offer real-money online poker to those within Nevada’s borders unless it forges a partnership.

If Zynga and similar companies could come in and run web poker independently it would certainly render the well-established casino operators virtually irrelevant in the new business.

One of Zynga’s marque games is Zynga Poker on Facebook Inc., but it’s not a real-money platform in the traditional sense. The game allows players to gamble with virtual currency, which can be both free and purchased with cash. This is the same model that fueled the FarmVille addiction and profitability, but that game is reportedly now boring people.

Zynga will reportedly look at real-money gambling in foreign markets next year. According to H2 Gambling Capital, the global online poker market (excluding the U.S.) is worth billions each year. Facebook itself is looking at online gambling after widely disappointing in its Initial Public Offering. Heavy criticism has been levied against allowing gambling, in the classic sense, on a social media site that is frequented by millions and millions of minors.

While the two are deeply intertwined, Zynga has already branched out on its own. Web gambling might be the way for Zynga to succeed without the Harvard dorm concoction.

Zynga has relevance in the online poker realm because of its database of players, which is in the millions. Any state that allows Zynga to come in and any company that gets in bed with it will be hoping that a large chunk could be converted to real-money depositors.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus

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