Zynga, Atlantic City Casinos Get Boost From NJ Online Gambling Nod


The online gambling market is having a really good week. Shares of gaming companies and Atlantic City casino operators ticked higher on Wednesday after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave digital gambling the nod earlier this week.

His approval comes a week after Nevada passed an interstate online poker law that allows Nevada-based companies to host interactive gambling for residents of other states.

New Jersey becomes the third U.S. state to legalize gambling over the Internet, behind Nevada and Delaware. Christie signed the deal on Monday shortly after state legislature passed a revised bill that included several of the governor’s changes, including a decade-long trial period and raising taxes to 15% on Atlantic City’s online winnings.

Shares of Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD), which operates the Borgata, climbed some 3.5% to $6.72 on Wednesday, while those of social games maker Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), which is hoping to get into the business of real-money gaming, rallied nearly 4% to $3.52 and are up about 43% this month alone.

Zynga’s investors have been betting that other states will adopt online gambling and that Zynga, which inked a deal with U.K. gambling operator Bwin.Party last year to provide real money poker, slots and blackjack, will be well positioned to profit from the surging market.

The maker of “Farmville” and “Words with Friends” in December filed an application with the Nevada Gaming Control Board for a gaming license in the state. It is also seeking a gambling license in New Jersey.

Shares of Caesars Entertainment (NYSE:CZR), which runs four New Jersey casinos, including Bally’s, Harrah’s, Showboat and Caesars Atlantic City, traded higher earlier in the session on hopes that the gambling bill will help revive Atlantic City’s gaming market. They closed down 2% to $12.18.