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Zynga and Facebook – The Latest Outlook for Online Gambling

12 July 2013 by Devon Chappell

There has been much continued speculation within the iGaming industry regarding the future of gambling for real money online. The market is opening slowly in the US, and the projected shift toward social and mobile gaming is picking up some steam after a somewhat shaky start. If you have a Facebook account (and who doesn’t?), you probably know about Farmville and Mafia Wars…or at least remember them.

Ever since the heyday of Farmville, there have been several “Ville” cousins developed, and now Zynga is looking toward the online gambling industry – the speed of which is finally gaining some traction.

Gambling online has become more portable and more social than ever before thanks to Facebook and smartphones. It would only seem natural for a gaming company like Zynga to take a leap of faith into the US market where gambling online is budding. With the massive following Facebook has, not to mention its existing movement within the (already legal) UK market of real money social gaming, the world of social online gambling is looking ripe.

After a rough spot between dwindling interest in such fad games as Farmville and the impending regulation of online gambling (in the middle of which Zynga went public with a less than stellar stock debut), it seems things are looking up again as interest in the potential of Zynga is being realized more.

Zynga recently let more than 500 employees go (including its CEO, who stepped down on the 1st of the month) in efforts to save its sinking ship. It seems the waiting for its next venture (online gambling) was a time period too long and too costly. Perhaps a life raft known as new CEO Don Mattrick has arrived just in time. After the announcement of the high profile new leader at Zynga, eyes have started to open wider. The prevcious CEO, Mark Pinkus, is still around in the Chief Products Officer position.

It was formally announced this week that the company fully intends to bank on the online gambling industry via Facebook. And while investors are attracted, Facebook hasn’t formally agreed to a plan…yet. However, at a World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, Facebook’s Sean Ryan was previewing Zynga Plus Poker and Zynga Plus Casino.

Investors can only imagine how much potential there is in the pending US market. Three months ago, Zynga released online and downloadable versions of its two real-money games in the UK via established British poker company, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, which has had its own problems within the US market. Zynga’s Facebook and mobile versions of these games are coming soon.

UK (as well as US) players can already take part in Zynga Poker on Facebook. At this time, players are simply limited to playing for “real money chips” that they cannot withdraw. The future holds the ability to play for real money with withdrawal-able winnings.

While Facebook still holds the key, investors are waiting with baited breath for any news of solidarity between Facebook and Zynga that would create the highly anticipated social gambling for real money platform in the US.

The UK market is actually a great starting point for the Zynga concept, with it’s high concentration of experienced online casino players that generate over £2.3 billion (over $3.4 billion US) in revenue. Yes, in the UK alone.

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