Tech Industry Poised to Enter US Gambling Market

View of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley Looking to Cash in on Online Gambling

In a turn of events that is hardly surprising to close observers of the gambling industry in the United States, tech companies both large and small in the Silicon Valley are positioning themselves to enter the real-money online gambling market.

So far, the states of Delaware and Nevada are the only two to have passed legislation that will permit their residents to access online poker games, and, in the case of Delaware, other forms of Internet-based wagering in addition to online poker.

As we previously reported, it is likely that online gambling will soon be on the menu for Garden State residents, as well, with the state’s governor, Republican Chris Christie, having handed down a conditional veto nearly two weeks ago on legislation that seeks to pave the way for New Jersey residents to play real-money online poker and, as in Delaware, also play the types of games one might find in a typical land-based casino via the Internet.

Governor Christie has sent the legislation back to the state assembly with requested changes. It is presumed that state lawmakers will approve the amendments to the bill, meaning that folks in New Jersey could be placing real virtual bets later on this year. The introduction of Internet wagering to New Jersey, a state that has seen revenue fall in its gambling capital, Atlantic City, in recent years and was badly damaged by the destructive course of Superstorm Sandy last fall, is expected to bring with it a badly-needed new stream of revenue.

Also hoping to discover a new stream of revenue from the regulation of Internet gaming are technology and game companies based in Silicon Valley in California. Major companies like Facebook and Zynga, the creator of mega-popular social games Mafia Wars and Farmville, just to name two of their incredibly successful offerings, are readying games that can be introduced to the public once online betting is accessible to Americans.

“There is no question there is great interest from all kinds of people in games of chance, whether it is for real money or virtual rewards,” said Mark Pincus, Zynga’s chief executive. Zynga has filed an application with the Nevada Gaming Control Board to operate an online poker room, making it one of dozens of well-known corporations vying to get a foothold in the burgeoning Silver State online poker market.

Though technology firms are typically known for moving quickly to stay as competitive as possible in a market that changes incredibly rapidly, those looking to gain an early foothold in the online betting market in the US appear to be unfazed by the often slow pace of government regulation.

While the general concensus is that federal action on Internet betting is probably not likely to happen in the near future, more and more states are moving to capitalize on a potentially very lucrative market by passing laws at the state level. According to the New York Times, a study conducted in Iowa, one of the states seriously considering passing online gambling legislation, an estimated 150,000 residents are already illegally playing poker online.

Chris DeWolfe, an original founder of the now-antiquated social networking site MySpace, who has partnered with heavyweights Jeff Bezos of fame and the executive chairman of Google, Eric E. Schmidt, to found a new gambling-oriented gaming studio said, “Everyone is really anticipating this becoming a huge business.