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Zynga recently filed a preliminary application for a gambling license in Nevada. We're not talking about gambling with Farmville credits, either. We're talking cold hard cash.

Getting a gaming license is no easy task in Nevada. The paperwork that Zynga filed this week is just the beginning of a process that the company's executives expect to take between a year and 18 months. During that time, the state will review Zynga's financial records and decide whether or not its fit to hold a license. Even then, it's unclear exactly what the world of real money online gambling will hold. Only this year did the Justice Department lift its ban on online gambling, and so far, Nevada is the first and only state to begin issuing licenses to companies offering online poker games. And even then, the license is only good inside the state of Nevada, where there's more sand than people.

Zynga's willing to take its chances. A lot could happen in the next year or so, and there's been talk of some sort of agreement between states that would open up the market significantly. And new openings in the market is exactly what Zynga really wants. "As we've said previously, the broader U.S. market is an opportunity that's further out on the horizon based on legislative developments, but we are preparing for a regulated market," said Zynga Chief Revenue Officer Barry Cottle in a statement.

This could be really good for Zynga. The five-year-old company has been on a bit of downward spiral, lately. With its earnings per user on a steady decline, Zynga's stock price has plummeted by more than 75 percent, and a number of key executives have left this year. It's hard to say exactly why people have cooled on Zynga's games, most of which live in the Facebook ecosystem, but if the company didn't do something soon, there was a chance that it could be in real trouble, real soon. And what's the best way to get out of financial trouble? Gambling. At least if you're on the right side of the table, it does.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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