eGaming Review reported this week that Zynga has taken another step towards becoming a real-money online poker provider by opening a tender to accept bids for a real money poker platform.

The open tender will allow Zynga to accept bids from online gaming developers to form a partnership for an entrance into the real-money gaming sphere. Playtech and Microgaming are among the companies expected to submit a sealed bid.

Zynga first indicated an interest in entering the real-money market in January when CEO Mark Pincus told the website AllThingsD.com that his company had entered into conversations with potential partners to better understand the iGaming sector.

Zynga has been under increasing pressure to enter the real-money gaming sphere due to the faltering price of their stock. Shares of ZNGA are down 48% since the company made its IPO last December in a time when the NASDAQ index has grown 12%.

After exploding in popularity thanks to their Facebook game applications Zynga Poker and Farmville, Zynga’s central philosophy towards growth has been to acquire smaller gaming companies. Their stock was battered after a Draw Something, which the company paid $200 million to acquire, lost roughly one-third of its active users in the first month under its new ownership.

This month, Zynga became a rumored buyer of the Ongame Network days after Vegas-based Shuffle Master abandoned their efforts to acquire the second-largest online poker network. bwin.party had agreed to sell Ongame for $37 million to Shuffle Master. According to company financials, Zynga has over $1 billion in cash and no debt.

According to AppData.com, Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker app is currently averaging 35.2 million active monthly users. Their large player base makes them very attractive as potential partners to smaller gaming companies with real-money experience.

The poker world views Zynga’s possible entrance to the real-money sector as something that could trigger a second “poker boom”. Zynga’s millions of active users would give them a great head-start on competing with the largest online poker room, PokerStars.

Playtech, operators of the iPoker Network, are expected to be among the highest bidders for a venture with Zynga. Their stock (PTEC) closed up nearly 1% today.

Also thought to be a leading candidate to work with Zynga is iGaming software stalwart Microgaming, a privately-owned company.

Shares of Zynga’s stock were up 1.53% at the time this article was written. Investors are keeping a close eye on the company as they are set to release their quarterly financials later this afternoon.


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