Zynga's free-to-play business model could see some changes if online gambling is legalized in the U.S.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the social gaming giant told All Things D that it is in discussions with several partners about a shift into the real-money online gambling market:
“We build games and experiences that our players want and love. Zynga Poker is the world’s largest online poker game with more than 7 million people playing every day and over 30 million each month. We know from listening to our players that there’s an interest in the real money gambling market. We’re in active conversations with potential partners to better understand and explore this new opportunity.”
At present, Zynga raises revenue through advertising and the sale of virtual goods, such as the purchase of virtual chips in Zynga Poker. The company has maintained that it is happy with its business model and was not interested in going after a real-money space.
However, now that the Department of Justice has opened the door for states in the U.S. to implement an online gambling platform, gaming operators like Zynga could take advantage of an opportunity to generate millions and maybe even billions of dollars in revenue.
Last October, Zynga announced it would be launching an umbrella franchise called Zynga Casino, which will encompass its popular Zynga Poker game, Zynga Bingo and future casino games. The virtual casino has not opened yet, but could be a major cog in the company's real-money strategy.
Zynga opened its initial public offering last month, selling 100,000 shares at $10 apiece. However, the stock price dropped to around $8 nearly immediately after it went public and has yet to climb above its initial offering price. The stock saw an early increase of 5 percent Friday morning when news of the online gambling interest broke.
PokerNews reached out to Zynga for a comment but has not yet received a reply.