Zynga (ZNGA) Taps Online Gambling Exec to Run New Markets Operation

September 14, 2012 8:53 AM EDT
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Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA) shares are trucking higher Friday morning, as the social gaming giant moves closer and closer to making a viable gambling network.

According to AllThingsD, Zynga has tapped Maytal Olsha to be operating chief of New Markets. Olsha was previously regulated markets SVP at 888 Holdings, a gambling site portal.

Zynga may launch a gambling effort focused on real-money wagers by the end of 2013, though nothing has been affirmed.

Ahead of the bell, Zynga shares are up over 4 percent. The stock is down 69 percent on the year, as investors have questioned how the company can diversify its offerings away from Facebook as well as keep customers coming back.

But, Zynga's no stranger to gambling; its "Zynga Poker" game is arguably one of the world's largest online poker communities. The best part of moving to real-money is potential favorable regulation moves to hit soon. Currently, online gambling is illegal in the U.S., causing many to store funds and accounts overseas in an effort to skirt litigation. With the U.S. always looking for a stream of revenue and casino giants like Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) and MGM Int'l (NYSE: MGM) tossing bucks behind lobbying for a positive outcome on gambling regulation, Zynga might just have a little more room to run higher over the next several months, if not years.

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