Potential online gambling partnership on the table. The San Francisco-based social gaming giant Zynga is in talks with land casino company Wynn Resorts about a potential online gambling partnership, the New York Post reported late Tuesday night. Wynn has explored an entry into a legalized US online gambling market before.
The newspaper notes that Zynga sees significant revenue potential in moving from virtual to real-money wagering, and needs to form partnerships with US land casino operators in a number of states if it is to cash in on an expected boom in US Internet gambling. Thus far neither Zynga nor Wynn Resorts have responded to requests for comment.
The Post reports that many US states are now looking at internet gambling legalization following the Department of Justice's policy change on the Wire Act last year which decided that only sports betting was covered by the Act.
Since the DoJ move, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has been touting the company’s prospects for parlaying its popular virtual Texas Hold'em poker game into real-money betting, calling the possibilities “mind-blowing.”
The newspaper points out that most of the proposed states' legislation will restrict online licenses to those who already are licensed to run a state gaming operation, and that Wynn only operates in Nevada.
It notes that New Jersey is making rapid progress towards legalization, but will grant Internet licenses only to those with computer servers based in Atlantic City casinos.
“Our goal is to help existing casino operators. We don’t know anything about Zynga,” state Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee Chair Ruben Ramos Jr. told The Post.
In Connecticut, Native American tribes have reportedly said the state would be violating its agreement giving them exclusive casino gaming rights if it issued an online license to anyone else, and in Iowa a pending bill offers online licenses only to those already authorized to operate state gambling boats and racetracks. Sources told The Post that Zynga may try to move first in the UK, where online betting is already legal, though competition is stiff.
Facebook, which does not want to host online gambling on its own site, has held conversations with UK online bookmakers William Hill and Ladbrokes about offering Facebook users access to their sites, the source revealed.
Reps for Facebook, William Hill and Ladbrokes did not return the newspaper's calls and messages seeking comment.
Stern Agee managing director Arvind Bhatia said if Zynga is unable to participate meaningfully in legalized online gaming in the United States, its shares could fall as much as 10 percent because investors have expectations of new gaming revenue. “I think, given that its core market is slowing, the potential online gaming revenue is important,” he said.
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