Zynga to face legal challenges if they leave Facebook and pursue online gambling

Casino Watch Focus reported that online social media giant Facebook was looking into online gambling.  Their partnerships with other developers like Zynga has provided an infrastructure for dealing with payments that could translate to real money gambling.  Casino Watch Focus then reported that developer Zynga was seriously considering entering the online gambling arena as well given they have a similar infrastructure and already offer free versions of gambling games like Poker.  Now, a online legal source is reporting that such a move will be met with serious legal hurdles:

Zynga Inc. is thinking about making a big bet on gambling, a step that analysts say could help end its dependence on Facebook Inc. It certainly won’t end its dependence on legal counsel. The technology may be simple, but lawyers say the company probably isn’t prepared for the intricate maze of regulations it will have to navigate to cash in on the action. Add to that the exhaustive financial and background checks Zynga executives and some shareholders might have to endure, and the company’s legal department is facing a huge undertaking.

I think they may be underestimating the difficulties they are going to face,” said Whittier Law School professor I. Nelson Rose, an expert on gambling law. “I know even European gaming operators are always surprised when they find out how invasive the U.S. regulators are in trying to find out everything.”

And if and when Zynga does start offering online gambling, dealing with compliance related to issues such as money laundering will have to become a top priority for its legal department, and that will likely mean hiring more in-house counsel. Many regulated gaming companies have substantial internal legal departments, Dayanim said. But whatever route Zynga decides to take, it will be new territory for all involved. “We haven’t seen a situation anywhere where a social gaming company has moved into the gambling space,” Dayanim said. “I can’t think of any company that has done it.”

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