The company recently announced that the play-money social casino slots game Hit It Rich! now features Ted, the R-rated teddy bear with a sailor-inspired vocabulary. This follows the release of Riches of Olympus, another play-money slots game.
Play money isn't the same as no money, though. Both games allow players to spend real money on virtual coins, in the same way that Candy Crush Saga allows players to buy more turns. If that were the end of the story, there wouldn't be much to tell.
Play-money games are just the prelude to the real hidden value of Zynga. Zynga's leadership in play-money poker equates to a ready and willing list of users who will make the move to real money as soon as regulations and the company move forward. Zynga isn't working alone: Facebook (FB) allows users to bet real money on poker in the U.K.
Since January, I've offered several profitable trade ideas to gain exposure before the rest of the market catches on. I also updated RealMoney Pro on Monday with an option trade strategy after shares fell to less than $5 .
Zynga publicly announced and advised me that it's not pursuing real-money gaming. I don't believe it, and you shouldn't either. Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War says, "Without deception you cannot carry out strategy..." I believe the company is keeping its cards close to its chest before it prepares its next move forward.
Real-money online poker is Zynga's No. 3 game in terms of revenue, and it doesn't include real-money casino games. Real-money gaming can easily scale to become 10-20 times (or more) as valuable to revenue and earnings as it is now.
There is simply too much money on the table for the company to ignore real-money gaming even if it wanted to, and I don't think for a minute it wants to let another company take it from them.
All Zynga needs is greater experience and an improving regulatory environment to maximize return. Along with the already available real-money games, the play-money Hit It Rich! and Riches of Olympus ensure a strong user base that can be monetized when the time is right.
Online gambling is gaining traction in several states and at the federal level. Don't expect the flood gates to open overnight, but they don't need to for investors to get a piece of the action.
At the time of publication, Weinstein is long Zynga.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.