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Zynga Cancels Plans for Real-Money Gaming in U.S.

Zynga

Social gaming giant Zynga has scrapped plans to enter the U.S. online gambling market, electing instead to focus its effort on free-to-play social games.

In its second quarter earnings report filed on Thursday, Zynga said it will no longer try to operate real-money games in the U.S. The news comes less than a month after the company replaced Chief Executive Officer Mark Pincus with Don Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox business.

Pincus said last year that the real-money gambling market would be a "natural fit" for Zynga. He began the transition by hiring former online-gambling executive Maytal Olsha to get the company's online gaming product off the ground. Zynga then filed an "Application for a Preliminary Finding of Suitability" with the Nevada Gaming Control Board last December.

Eight months later it appears that Zynga, best known for free social games such as “Farmville” and “Word with Friends,” will be looking to find repeat success as a social gaming company rather than a gambling company under Mattrick's supervision.

“Zynga believes its biggest opportunity is to focus on free-to-play social games,” the company said in its earnings report. “While the company continues to evaluate its real-money gaming products in the United Kingdom test, Zynga is making the focused choice not to pursue a license for real-money gaming in the United States. Zynga will continue to evaluate all of its priorities against the growing market opportunity in free, social gaming, including social casino offerings.”

Zynga, in partnership with bwin.party, launched its real-money online gaming "test" operation in the U.K. in April. Zynga introduced Zynga Plus Poker, a real-money offering on the PartyGaming network, where its players joined a pool that included PartyPoker, bwin, WPT Poker and Gamebookers customers.

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