Forget "Mafia Wars," Zynga Is Getting Into the Gambling Business

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Dec. 6 2012 3:17 PM

If You Thought "FarmVille" Was Addictive, Wait Till You See What Zynga Is Doing Next

Zynga Nevada gaming license
One way for Zynga to get a gaming license in Nevada might be to partner with an existing casino.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Zynga Poker is fun at first. But after a while, one of two things happens. Either you get tired of losing, or you get tired of not winning actual money.

The luster is likewise fading from once-hot Zynga titles like FarmVille, CityVille, and Mafia Wars, and the San Francisco-based social gaming company's stock has plummeted. It turns out people are only willing to shell out so much real money for the "virtual goods" that Zynga hawks in those games. So now the struggling company has a new revenue proposition: actual poker. For actual cash.

Reuters reports that the company has applied to the Nevada Gaming Control Board for a "preliminary finding of suitability" to run an online gaming operation in the state. As TechCrunch's Anthony Ha explains, that's an alternative to the traditional first step toward getting a gaming license in the state, which is to approach the commission with a deal in hand to buy a casino. The more likely path for Zynga is to partner with an existing casino in the state once it's clear that state and federal regulations will allow it.

Advertisement

The move by Zynga is a bold (or desperate) bet that a wave of states will begin to allow online gambling now that the Justice Department appears to have cleared a path. Though its faddish Facebook games are literally going out of style, Zynga's sheer size and experience in the online gaming field would seem to position it well to capitalize on such a trend. If that happens, though, it might need to rethink the rhetoric about how its games are "addictive."

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Even if You Don’t Like Batman, You Might Like Gotham

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 2:55 PM Nuptial Expert Sarkozy Worries About Gay Marriage and the Family
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 3:16 PM Watch the Best Part of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.