Zynga online gambling plan: One dangerous cash cow

Zynga online gambling plan: One dangerous cash cow

Summary: Zynga and gambling will be like crack to those who can't control the urge to wager. Combine the addictive nature of Facebook and you have a double whammy. It's a sweet business though.

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Zynga's plans to enter online gambling spurs a bi-polar reaction for me. The capitalist in me drools over the potential business model, but the do-gooder worried about gambling addiction sees an epic societal train wreck ahead.

AllThingsD has a big overview of Zynga's plans to enter online gambling. There are a bunch of caveats such as Zynga has to navigate regulators, but it's highly likely that Zynga Poker will be played with real money at some point.

From a business perspective, Zynga's gambling exploration is absolutely brilliant. We all know the house always wins with casinos. Zynga becomes a casino---on an addictive platform like Facebook no less---and cash will be raining from the skies. Online gambling changes everything for Zynga from a business model perspective. Today, Zynga needs a stream of gaming hits. It can stumble just like a Hollywood studio that hits a dry spell.

Gambling changes all of that. Gambling is commerce and folks will be handing over cash to Zynga and Facebook with abandon. This Zynga meets gambling model is a capitalist dream. Zynga can and should pursue online gambling.

Once I'm done counting virtual cash though, the dangers become apparent. Gamblers' Anonymous will freak. Zynga and gambling will be like crack to those who can't control the urge to wager. Combine the addictive nature of Facebook and you have a double whammy.

Let's face it. People leave their kids in the car in the heat and cold to go into a casino. People go into debt to gamble. People are already hooked on online gambling. The barriers to entry fade away in a Zynga-Facebook environment. Now not everyone is addicted to gambling, but for those who are Zynga's online gambling adventure is going to be scary. Am I being an alarmist? Perhaps. But I usually always skew to the capitalist pig side of any equation. My gut tells me this Zynga gambling effort could have some major societal repercussions.

Topics: Social Enterprise, CXO

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3 comments
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  • RE: Zynga online gambling plan: One dangerous cash cow

    So...what exactly is the problem here? Just because Zynga is a well known company? You're acting like there's not already a multitude of virtual casinos already.
    Aerowind
    • Much wampum

      He probably believes all that stuff he saw in the Westerns, too. You ever hear of [i]cowboy[/i] gaming? No, you haven't. So who do you think really won?</i>
      Robert Hahn
    • RE: Zynga online gambling plan: One dangerous cash cow

      @Aerowind We have a lot more people addicted to alcohol and cigarettes, and people die from both of those. In regards to drunk driving and second-hand smoke, innocent people also die from those.
      My local supermarket's going to be selling wine and spirits now. No one freaks out about that or the seaside tourist town I used to live in that had at least EIGHT bars within easy walking distance of my home. Meanwhile, people who want to play a little poker or make a bet on the Superbowl or the Kentucky Derby have to go through hurdles like you wouldn't believe (I live in a state with horse racing, and for some time I couldn't bet online while those with no legal horse racing in their state could).
      It's always recreational gambling and the degenerates that participate in it that's going to bring down civilization... meanwhile, we have a national form of legal gambling, the stock, commodity, currency, derivatives and futures markets, and those participants are viewed as upstanding pillars of society.
      jgm@...