Enough with that silly fake money in Farmville and the lack of real-world thrills in Zynga Poker. The country's favorite social game company is looking to expand into the world of sin and will offer a poker game that allows players to gamble actual money sometime in the first half of 2013. However, don't expect it to be hosted - or perhaps even playable - in the US, where online gambling is all but expunged due to several state laws banning the practice.
The announcement came from Zynga CEO Mark Pincus during a conference call today with investors. Just looking at some of the reports when it comes to this market makes it very easy to realize why the company would want to go down this new path. For example, Zynga users currently spend an average of $2 - $3 per month. Of course, multiply that by millions of users and you're doing pretty well. But by comparison, online gambling sites typically see revenues of around $300 per paying user per month.
It will be the first time such a major name outside the world of gambling hopes to make it big in the online gambling world. Every other noted video game publisher has shied away from it because of many issues, not the least of which is that real-world gambling gives publishers an automatic "AO" rating from the ESRB, and most publishers are ingrained in the video game rating system so deeply that they don't dare launch a game that doesn't have that group's stamp of approval. Of course, the legalities also play a huge role in this. This is going to be an interesting story to watch.