Nevada took steps in 2011 to legalize online poker within the state, but has not yet addressed other casino games such as slot machines or blackjack. Several other states are also working on legislation to control online gambling, clearing the way for companies like Zynga to operate real money gambling houses online. Delaware legalized online casino gambling in June with the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012. And New Jersey is considering a bill that would legalize Internet gaming within Atlantic City casinos. Internet gambling was given a boost in 2011 when the Department of Justice said that only sports betting violated the Federal Wire Act a law that many scholars and critics believed could be used to prohibit online casinos.
It's not clear what Zynga's gaming plans would be if it is granted an online gambling license from Nevada, but it seems the company hopes to revive its sagging fortunes with real-stakes poker. Zynga is already making moves to introduce real-money poker in the U.K. through a partnership announced in October with online gambling firm bwin.party.
But it's possible Zynga could one day move beyond poker and introduce other casino games such as blackjack, slots, or even bingo. If Zynga was particularly inventive, or desperate depending on your point of view, it could also figure out ways to introduce gambling into current games.
Imagine, for example, speculating on crop futures in FarmVille or a casino-styled version of Words with Friends similar to video Scrabble machinesintroduced in 2009.
Zynga is not the first company to turn to gambling to reinvigorate its business. Playboy Enterprises, faced with sagging publishing revenues from its men's magazine, on several occasions has tried to trade on its brand recognition to move into gambling. Most recently, the company in 2010 announced several casinos around the world including locations in China and Mexico.
Story updated 12/06/2013 at 11:30 p.m. PST