By Eric Eldon
The social gaming industry has been getting more and more interested in a potentially big new way to make money: online gambling. And investors, who are now able to buy stock in market leader Zynga (ZNGA), are following suit.
Saturday, Zynga told All Things D that it was considering how to approach the new opportunity: “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.”
The market, which has not been sure what to make of Zynga’s virtual goods revenue model since the company went public at $10 a share last month, reacted by driving its stock up by $0.56, or 6.57%, to close at $9.09 today.
Zynga’s move follows a potential loosening up on the issue by the two platforms it relies on most: Facebook, and the United States government. Recent statements by the US Department of Justice suggested that online gambling might be legal in many states. And Facebook is reportedly looking at allowing gambling in countries where the pasttime/vice is already allowed.
Beyond Zynga Poker, which has dominated the winnings-free gambling category of games on Facebook since it launched in 2007, a few other companies have been building hit games (and getting acquired). Playtika, which owns slot-machine game Slotomania, was bought by gambling empire Caesars Entertainment Corporation for more than $90 million back in May. Meanwhile, Double Down Interactive, creator of mult-game app Double Down Casino, was just bought by International Game Technologies in a deal worth up to $500 million.