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Zynga To Deliver Up To 33.7 Million Online Poker Players Into Nevada's Hands

Company Files Application For Online Gaming In Silver State


Beleaguered Zynga Inc. has filed paperwork to be a player in Nevada’s upcoming online poker industry, one which will run intrastate if the feds don’t pass a bill or expand into a nationwide market if they do. The Wall Street Journal broke news Wednesday of the firm’s application.

The Facebook games maker has been on the decline for quite some time, but many in the industry view its online poker opportunities as a way to stop the revenue bleeding.

Zynga offers many popular games, such as FarmVille, but its poker product has mushroomed into the largest player pool on the web and likely the most valuable item in its portfolio. Zynga would give its Nevada partner a huge database — and technology if needed.

Even if iPoker occurs only in Nevada for the extended future, a Las Vegas casino could market free-play games to any of Zynga Poker’s 33.7 million active monthly users anywhere in the world. While free play isn’t as lucrative as real-money deposits, Zynga brings in a lot of money from its customers buying virtual currency that apparently enhances the experience.

This sort of business model has propelled Zynga into generating about 10 percent of Facebook’s overall revenue. However, growth has slowed and investors have ran.

In order to offer games from Nevada, Zynga will need to pair up with a casino, or another technology firm that has partnered with a casino. Zynga has a relationship with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment for games in the United Kingdom, but it’s unclear if that will carry over into the United States. Bwin is MGM Resorts’ Nevada partner.

If Zynga doesn’t jump into bed with Bwin, MGM, and Boyd Gaming (the other brick-and-mortar company tagging along in the triad), there are a slew of other firms looking for help.

Wynn Resorts is one of Nevada’s dominant casino companies and has applied for an online gambling license, but it doesn’t have a partner yet. There have been reports of Wynn and Zynga discussing a possible venture together, but nothing concrete ever came to light.

With all that said, poker is not the grand prize. Many Nevada gaming companies see it as the gateway to other web-based versions of casino games. Zynga has interests in those as well, offering products such as “Slingo” — a combination of slots and bingo — and a Las Vegas-style sportsbook on Facebook. Both do not take real-money deposits.

This week’s development is a breath of fresh air for the company, after reports of its CEO Mark Pincus being “near tears” after the struggles of the company and a rival saying Zynga is “burning to the ground” thanks to its damaged stock price and dwindling profits.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus

Tags: Zynga,   Nevada,   Online Poker,   Silver State,   Online Gaming,   Bwin,   MGM