As our regular readers are aware, the U.S. online gambling market in a stage of transition. The status quo was changed last year in December when the U.S. Justice Department reviewed its stance on the Wire Act of 1961 which up till now was the main obstacle for legalizing online gambling. Since then there are serious efforts by many U.S. States to legalize online gambling either on an individual basis or on a federal basis. States like Nevada and Delaware have taken the plunge first and have already started issuing gaming licenses. Other states like New Jersey and California have also been active in efforts to enter the online gambling world.

The online gambling market in the U.S. is estimated at billions and with the U.S. experiencing difficult economic times, many states are desperate to get their hands on revenues from gambling taxation.

These changes have meant that many once social based gaming companies are now looking to monetize their once free-to-play social games. One of the most significant players in this social gaming market is Zynga which is the world’s largest gaming company. They are currently in an interesting predicament. While being the largest gaming company on Facebook, they also are the strategic owners of the world’s largest online social poker offering, Zynga Poker.

Currently Zynga Poker boasts over 35 million monthly users making it a global poker phenomenon. Despite being the global gaming empire, Zynga suffered heavy losses since its IPO Launch in December 2011.Last month the company faced even further losses after investors were highly disappointed with their second quarter losses and performance. Their share price has dropped by 70% since their IPO and is currently trading around the $3.

In an effort to remedy the situation, CEO Mark Pincus recently announced that it plans on offering a real money online poker offering in the first half of 2013. This is seen by many as a desperate attempt to literally gamble the future of the company on real money gambling which could either be the ultimate Ace in the hole or an additional nail in Zynga’s coffin.

Zynga’s ambitions to get online gambling legalized have translated into actions as they have begun investing in federal and state lobbying efforts to promote legalized internet gambling. They have reportedly employed the Washington-based Bay Bridge Strategies Inc. and Peck, Jones & Stewart Inc. and Madigan.
In the state of California they hired Platinum Advisors who were active on the Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012.
It is reported that Zynga has spent in the region of $75,000 in the second quarter on a federal level and is rumored to be spending the same for the current quarter.

It remains to be seen if Zynga succeed in their efforts to lobby politicians to legalize online poker. From the outside it would seem that with or without their lobbying efforts there will be few U.S. states who will be able to turn down gambling revenues in trying economic times. The only question remains is if the Federal government will step in and do the work for the individual states or as is happening at the moment each state is having to take the initiative on their own.

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