Zynga Begins the Licensing Process for Real-Money Gaming in the U.S.

Zynga will still have to wade through a maze of regulations, but has taken at least one step forward in getting permission to conduct real-money gaming in the U.S.

The San Francisco social games company said today that it has filed an “Application for a Preliminary Finding of Suitability” in Nevada. The process, conducted by the state’s gaming control board, could take up to 18 months. If Zynga is found suitable, it could apply for a license, which could take another two to three months.

“Zynga has filed its Application for a Preliminary Finding of Suitability from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. This filing continues our strategic effort to enter regulated RMG (real-money gaming) markets in a prudent way,” said the company’s Chief Revenue Officer Barry Cottle, in a statement. “As we’ve said previously, the broader U.S. market is an opportunity that’s further out on the horizon based on legislative developments, but we are preparing for a regulated market.”

The company, which has been clear for awhile about its intention to enter the real-money gaming space, also recently partnered with bwin.party in the U.K. to roll out its first real-money gaming experiences in the first half of 2013.

Online gambling in the U.S. is still very much in the air. Last year, the Department of Justice ruled that online gambling is legal under federal law, but now it’s up to every state to pass legislation outlining operating procedures. Nevada and the District of Columbia moved quickly to enact laws, but clearly it will take time for every state to get a law passed, unless the federal government steps in with a national policy.

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