Friday August 17, 2012 : ZYNGA IS BETTING ON THE INTERNET IN NEW LOBBY ACTIVITY
Social gaming giant moving to bring ambitions to fruition
Social gaming giant Zynga's ambitions for real money internet gambling are well-known, and further evidence became available recently when the company started lobbying on the topic in Washington DC.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Zynga invested in state and federal lobbying efforts around gambling with real money in Washington, D.C., and California as the company eyes real-money gambling versions of games as a key opportunity amid waning investor confidence and a battered stock price.
The company's flagship game is Zynga Poker, which has proved wildly popular among social gamers using virtual money and prizes, but Zynga has also developed other casino-style games, and has revealed that it has begun talking to potential partners about games with real money changing hands, in response to user interest and a shifting legal landscape.
Last year the U.S. Justice Department signalled that states could start developing regulations for online gambling, and several have seen related legislative efforts. Federal legalization that would regulate Internet gambling is also possible, the Journal reports.
As recently as last (July) month, CEO Mark Pincus told analysts the firm expects to "launch our first real-money gaming products in international markets in the first half of 2013." The CEO added that while the U.S. is an attractive potential market for an early foray into real-money gambling, "it's not an open, regulated environment today."
On the federal level, Zynga reported in public documents spending some $75,000 during the quarter ended in June on lobbying efforts around issues including Internet gambling.
Zynga disclosed employing Washington-based Bay Bridge Strategies Inc. and Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart Inc. during the period, to monitor "legalization pertaining to regulation and taxation of Internet gambling" in the House and Senate.
In California, Zynga hired Platinum Advisors to lobby during the quarter ended in June around a bill introduced in the state senate earlier this year that would establish licensing for online poker providers.
The bill, called the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012, would allow for $30 million licenses for gambling outfits with whom Zynga could potentially partner to offer online poker to players within California. The California legalization stalled earlier this year, but may yet be reprised.
The amount Zynga committed to second-quarter lobbying in California wasn't immediately clear, but was less than the $75,000 spent on the federal level, according to a person familiar with the matter.