At present states such as New Jersey are passing or debating laws that could see online gambling become legal in certain cities or areas. At the same time the popularity of social gaming versions of gambling games is rising dramatically.
Recent crossovers between social gaming and gambling include the purchase of Playtika by Caesar’s Entertainment and Double Down Interactive by International Game Technology. However, it is Zynga, after announcing at the beginning of the year that they are looking for partnerships in the gambling area, who really are at the forefront of the gambling-gaming crossover.
Over the coming year Zynga has the opportunity to position themselves as the leader in online poker. Their free poker game is extremely popular despite the fact that due to current laws no real money can be won. Since various scandals have emerged surrounding popular paid online poker sites such as UltimateBet and Full Tilt Poker, Zynga may now be in the perfect position to dominate just as legislation may be about to change.
Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga, has said that the possibilities of social gambling games are “mind-blowing”. Zynga’s partnership with gambling operators Wynn could lead to an extremely powerful franchise if they manage to use Wynn’s reputation and expertise to their advantage. This may lead to the formation of another company and see Zynga sell off its “family friendly” side to Facebook.
As online gambling legislation looks set to change in America, and social gaming continues to grow in popularity, the line between gambling and gaming is set to become less and less distinct. Whatever path Zynga chooses their growth is almost guaranteed. They are certain to enter the real money gambling market sooner rather than later and it wouldn’t be surprising if within a year players are able to enjoy a real money version of Zynga poker.