Zynga, the San-Francisco social network game developer popular for Farmville and Cityville, is looking to spread its reach into the world of real-money online gambling, according to the latest reports. Zynga—which already owns the world’s largest online poker game, played by over 7 million people a month—says the move to real online gambling is in the works as they talk with multiple partners. The major hurdles to this foray are, of course, overcoming state and federal regulations, as well as the considerable licensing fees and costs of installing more robust security features. This will likely require Zynga to partner with a major online gambling agency, something the company seems prepared to do.
This is not necessarily a brand new direction for the revolutionary gaming giant, nor is it particularly surprising. Facebook, whose online gaming platform is heavily dominated by Zynga, has been seeing escalating profits from casino games and applications. It stands to reason that two of the most addictive trends in society, gambling and social media would be combined to create a profit goliath. For years now, people have been gambling for virtual currency; the move to real currency could be a cash cow, though it’s unlikely Facebook, still reeling from blows to its brand over privacy breakdowns, will support such a controversial feature.
But that’s not to say other media giants won’t be investing considerable money and effort into making real-money online gambling continue to grow. Two major power moves in the last half year have pointed to this as not just a possibility but a probability. Firstly, International Game Technology, a major video poker developer, absorbed Double Down Interactive for the price tag of $500 million. Clearly, their spending that much money indicates they see a considerable payoff. So too apparently does Caesars Entertainment, who for $90 million acquired Playtika, known for the game Slotomania.
These moves toward more online gambling games are taking considerable financial resources but Zynga, worth over one billion after its initial public offering, has the money in the bank to fund such an endeavor. Clearly, with the popularity of its Facebook games and poker and casino games in general, as well as the incredible promise of combining gambling and social media, Zynga thinks it will be well worth the financial, legislative, and corporate wrangling. In the meantime, fans can keep harvesting their Farmville gardens, waiting to spend some of the virtual currency on big winnings at roulette and blackjack.