Zynga drops after scrapping online gambling plans

Zynga shares drop after scrapping its US online real-money gambling plans

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Zynga investors cashed in their shares Friday after the company said it was dropping its plans to pursue online casino-style games in the U.S.

THE SPARK: The San Francisco company said late Thursday that it was no longer seeking the U.S. gambling license it would need to move into casino-style games, which are played for real money. The company still plans to test a gambling product in the United Kingdom.

Zynga posted second-quarter earnings late Thursday and reported that it had trimmed its losses. The company has been cutting staff to reduce costs.

THE BIG PICTURE: Adding online gambling could have given Zynga a potentially large source of revenue that the company badly needs.

When Zynga went public late 2011, its games, such as "Farmville" and "Mafia Wars," were the most popular on Facebook. Things have changed since then. King.com, the maker of "Candy Crush Saga," has unseated Zynga as the top social games maker.

The second-quarter results were Zynga's last under the direction of founder and CEO Mark Pincus. The company brought aboard former Microsoft executive Don Mattrick as CEO , who ran the Xbox video game business.

THE ANALYSIS: Mattrick is well-regarded in tech circles and there is some optimism in his ability to turn Zynga's fortunes around.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter sees changes within Mattrick's first 180 days at the company. "We believe Mr. Mattrick will act swiftly to focus on a handful of new initiatives and to right-size Zynga's staffing levels," Pachter wrote.

Zynga declined to comment Friday. But Mattrick said in a conference call with analysts Thursday that the company expects two to four quarters of volatility as it develops a new strategy.

SHARE ACTION: Zynga Inc., fell 57 cents, or 16.6 percent, to $2.92 in morning trading Friday. That's near its 52-week low of $2.09 reached in November. The stock is down 71 percent since its initial public offering in December 2011.

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