Today’s launch of real-money gambling in the United Kingdom has sent shares of Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) soaring this morning. The anticipated launch in a partnership with Bwin.party Digital Entertainment is viewed as the first step toward a new revenue stream for the social gaming company that has had trouble coming out from under the shadow of its connection to Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB).
Two real betting games, ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino, are being launched as desktop applications today.
The recent adoption of online gambling in Nevada and New Jersey have bolstered hopes that the U.S. Congress will move to legalize real-money games across the United States. Analysts believe that Zynga will wait until online gambling is legalized nationwide before launching any games in the United States.
International Game Technology (NYSE: IGT), Bally Technologies Inc. (NYSE: BYI), Boyd Gaming Corp. (NYSE: BYD) and Shuffle Master Inc. (NASDAQ: SHFL) already have received licenses to offer real-money games in Nevada, and Zynga has applied for a Nevada license as well.
Shares of Zynga are up 11% in the first half-hour of trading today, at $3.41 in a 52-week range of $2.09 to $12.90.