With over a dozen states in the U.S. now aggressively seeking passing legislation that would allow their residents to gamble legally online, the list of individuals and companies lining up to cash in grows larger every day. And it is probably no surprise that the big names in the brick-and-mortar casino business are climbing on board, trying to position themselves in front of what they hope is guaranteed online gambling legislation passage sooner than later. But some of the proposed partnerships may just catch you by surprise, and one such proposal matches a real world casino giant with its equally as formidable online social gaming leader.
If you are guessing Las Vegas and Zynga, you are correct. Las Vegas has been the leading casino gambling brick-and-mortar destination in the United States and around the world for decades. And Facebook is far and away the leading social networking site, with an incredible 700 million active members. With the recent leapfrogging of farm-based games and applications by online poker and casino games as the most popular Facebook app activity, it is no wonder that many Facebook friendly companies are looking for ways to move from free casino games to pay for play online casino entities. And the world’s largest social networking gaming company is Zynga.
On December 23 of last year, the United States Department of Justice reversed their age-old position on Internet gambling. Instead of making online gambling and gaming illegal, they said they would not get in the way of individual states legalizing and regulating their own web-based poker and gambling product. Almost immediately, many states begin to move for some type of online gambling legislation, and Nevada was the first to successfully legalize online gaming in their state. California, New Jersey, Illinois and about eight other states are currently actively seeking to copycat Nevada by legalizing online gambling in one form or another.
Obviously, as soon as this announcement was made, brick-and-mortar casino giants such as MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts began searching for leaders in online gaming for successful partnerships. As Brock Pierce, managing director of the Global Gaming Fund of venture capital firm Clearstone Venture Partners stated, “When you have a gold mine this big it’s only a matter of time” before meaningful partnerships develop. He also stated his belief that many “billion-dollar companies” will eventually arise out of these early partnerships in the coming years.
One of the first such marriages between an online gaming presence and a brick-and-mortar casino giant happened last December when Caesers bought the mobile gaming software firm Playtika for a reported $220 million. Estimates in California alone show that state tax revenue for online poker could generate as much as $5 billion in 10 years, according to US Digital Gaming. If that online poker experience could be connected to Facebook through the current online gaming properties owned by sites like Zynga, that number could double. To that effect, Wynn Resorts reportedly one month ago entered into a relationship with Zynga, combining two of the titans of the real world and virtual casino industries in what could prove the first and biggest legal online poker institution in the United States, now that Nevada has legalized online gaming.