Real-money gaming (i.e., online gambling) could provide a big boost to Zynga’s faltering bottom line, and the company has talked about making a move into that market in the past. Today CEO Mark Pincus offered a timetable, of sorts — subject to licensing approvals, he said we should see Zynga’s first products in this field in the first half of 2013.
“What we’ve said, and what we have to announce today, is that we have our first products in development and that we intend to release them in markets that are regulated and open, subject to our getting licensing,” said Pincus, who was speaking on the analyst conference call discussing Zynga’s disappointing second quarter earnings. Those markets don’t include the United States: “The US is obviously an attractive market, but it’s not an open, regulated environment today.”
One of the analysts asked for details about how Zynga would pursue licensing, but Pincus declined to get any more specific.
When he spoke at the Fortune Brainstorm conference last week, Pincus pointed to real-money gaming (along with mobile and advertising) as one of the main areas where he expects to see revenue growth. He added that there was “a good chance” that online gambling will be legalized in the United States in some form, while also cautioning that he’s “not a good predictor of politics.”
As others have noted, moving into the gambling market will present some big challenges, given the headaches of legal compliance, the existence of already-dominant companies, and the fact that Zynga would have to attract a new audience.