In the conference call following their earnings announcement last week, the CEO of social gaming provider Zynga announced to investors that the company plans to enter the real-money online gambling market as soon as the first half of next year.
Zynga, best known for titles like Farmville and Words With Friends, has already offered a play-for-fun poker game where customers pay money for chips, but cannot cash out any winnings. The company now plans to launch real-money games in Europe where the legal and regulatory frameworks for online gambling are well established. As the legal situation changes in the US, the company is expected to expand into states that choose to legalize online gambling. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware are among the states moving quickly toward allowing internet gambling within their borders.
An article at VentureBeat reports that CEO Mark Pincus says the games are already ready, so the move into legal jurisdictions could happen quickly. Investors didn’t seem to care, as the stock has moved sharply lower in the days since the company announced disappointing earnings results. The company’s shares went from $5 before the earnings announcement down to just $3 at the close today.