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Nov
13th

Former Zynga VP Bets on Real Money Mobile Gaming

Social gaming seems to be the hottest topic in the online gaming industry these days. In August Facebook launched a real money internet bingo game in the UK. Facebook chose the UK because of the country’s thriving and highly regulated online gaming market. The liberalization of laws pertaining to online gaming has worked out well in the UK and players enjoy a level of consumer protections not available in other jurisdictions. Zynga was one of Facebook’s largest game operators and their flagship game FarmVille is still played by millions daily. Unfortunately Zynga developed internal problems and player numbers took a drastic dive. Zynga closed several offices and laid off 5% of its staff.

Zynga’s problems triggered an executive exodus. Bloomberg news reported that vice presidents Bill Mooney and Brian Birtwistle left the troubled company following the lead of other top managers. The company had suffered from declining sales and falling stock prices. Zynga would not confirm the departures but issued a statement pointing to the company’s low attrition rate.

Betable, the company that is bringing real money gaming to mobile phones announced they have hired Ya-Bing Chu, a former vice president at Zynga. While at Zynga Chu had worked as the general manager of the company’s mobile division and was responsible for operating popular games such as Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends Prior to that Chu worked on Zynga’s popular games like Zynga Poker, FarmVille and PetVille. Chu told reporters “This is an opportunity to pioneer this business, and this was too good to pass up.”

Betable is licensed in the UK and its servers are located there. Since any gambling on Betable’s platform takes place in the UK the company can operate legally anywhere. Betable, which has offices in San Francisco, has elected to stay out of the US market for now. Online gambling is still prohibited in the US and gaming experts do not expect any changes anytime soon. Betable is not developing any games but is making the company’s technology available to third parties interested in entering the real money gaming world. Game developers will not have to go through the lengthy licensing process because Betable has already taken care of legalities.

Chu said he is hopeful that the revenues from real money gaming will give companies the capital to invest in new games. Chu said “The real problem is that it’s a hits-driven business, and if you don’t know where it’s going, you’ll be forced to copy successes in the market.” Betable was founded in 2011 and currently has 18 employees.