Legal online gambling moves closer to reality

Zynga is preparing its first betting game, now just for the UK, but the US is sure to follow as this new tax source beckons.

By Aimee Picchi Feb 18, 2013 2:30PM

Image: Couple with computer (© Don Mason / Blend Images/Getty Images)Online video-game companies are prepping for the next gold rush: gambling over the Internet. 

Zynga (ZNGA), the creator of the FarmVille social-media game, is preparing its first betting game -- although the catch is that the product is for U.K. residents only. ("Connect with your friends and loads of new people who share your love for social online casino games," ZyngaPlusCasino says.) 

But online gambling could come soon to the U.S., boosting the fortunes of Silicon Valley game developers, according to The New York Times.

Delaware is set to become the first state with online gambling, with the governor's office estimating that online gambling will start this year, USA Today reports. However, federal law will require gamblers to be within Delaware's borders -- with GPS software aiding in verification. 

Not to be outdone, Nevada has introduced a bill that would legalize interactive gaming, while other states, including California and New Jersey, are also moving toward legalization. The reason? Online gambling could rake in tax revenue, something that states are loath to turn down, especially in economically tough times. 

"[A]ll of a sudden thousands of developers in Silicon Valley [are] making money overseas and wanting to turn their efforts inward and make money in the U.S.," Chris Griffin, the chief executive of London gambling start-up Betable, told the Times. His company has opened an office in San Francisco. 

Until the U.S. market opens up to online gaming, Silicon Valley companies are first testing the waters abroad, such as Zynga's new U.K. gaming product, which is slated to debut early this year. Facebook (FB) allows online gambling for British users via Jackpotjoy, the Times notes. 

“There is no question there is great interest from all kinds of people in games of chance, whether it is for real money or virtual rewards,” Zynga Chief Executive Mark Pincus told the Times. 

Zynga, which is banking on gambling as a new strategy, last year applied to Nevada for a gambling license.

If that gets approved, perhaps it's just a matter of time before FarmVille fans will be able to place wagers on digital commodity prices.  

More on moneyNOW

Tags: Gambling
Feb 18, 2013 2:47PM
Will NOT buy anything MS!!!! Woman has stolen all of her concepts and products for years and years and used as her "own"............................

Online gambling should NOT be allowed.  There are enough people out there that can not control what they do online or at a casino. 

Gambling sure won't help anyone and will hurt many.

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