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.


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.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Why Time Is on Our Side in the Fight Against Ebola

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.


How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 4:15 PM The Trials of White Boy Rick A Detroit crime legend, the FBI, and the ugliness of the war on drugs.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 1 2014 4:55 PM Blood Before Bud? Must a gentleman’s brother always be the best man at his wedding?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 4:46 PM Ebola Is No Measles. That’s a Good Thing. Comparing this virus to scourges of the past gives us hope that we can slow it down.
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?