Zynga CEO Mark Pincus

Zynga is a step closer to real-money gambling in the United States after filing an application for a Preliminary Finding of Suitability from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The Preliminary Finding of Suitability is the first step in a licensing process that can take as long as 18 months. During this initial period, regulators will be picking over Zynga’s current and past financial records with a fine-tooth comb to make certain they’re up to the state’s tough licensing standards.

Thanks to their existing real-money online gambling operation in the UK, a partnership with bwin.party, Zynga is a very good candidate for a Nevada license.

The bigger question for gambling industry watchers is who Zynga might partner up with in the Silver State, if they partner with anyone at all. In public, company officials are keeping their options open, but they’ve made no secret of their interest in working with the Wynn Resort and Casino.

Earlier this year Zynga CEO Mark Pincus tips his cards at an industry gathering saying:

We have incredible respect and admiration for brands and groups like the Wynn … I would expect that you’ll see a lot of these players kind of figure out their go-to-market partnerships for sure before the end of this year.

The prospect of a big real money gaming deal, and the associated revenue flow, is welcomed news for the struggling social gaming giant. Between an eroding player base for their Facebook-based games; executive upheavals; and plunging stock prices, this has been a tough year at Zynga.

Securing a Nevada Gaming License would also help the company expand in other US markets as they open as Nevada’s regulatory standards will be the likely benchmark for regulated American online poker. (Though it’s not clear at this time whether Zynga is interested in online or land-based Nevada gaming.)

Do you think Zynga can thrive in the American real-money gambling market? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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