Will Zynga Be Saved By Real-Money Games?

Struggling social game developer Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) enjoyed a 7 percent boost to its stock price on Thursday after announcing that it has filed paperwork seeking permission to conduct real-money online gaming in Nevada.

Is This a Strong Gambit or a Red Herring?

Zynga has been after real-money online gaming for a while. As early as January of 2012 the company announced its intention to build out Zynga Poker into the real-money market, and has since partnered with bwin.party in the United Kingdom. Zynga Poker was the company’s first social game and is currently the most popular free-to-play poker game in the world.

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But the chances of Zynga successfully becoming a poker champion look slim. Federal law allows online gambling in the U.S. but the legal architecture for permitting it is up to each state to work out, and progress has been slow. So far only Nevada and Washington, D.C., have enacted laws supporting it, and it can take up to 20 months to compete the approval and licensing process. While the company’s announcement may have excited investors hoping Zynga can capitalize on the lucrative poker market, any conceivable benefit is still far off…

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