Zynga’s annual shareholder meeting focuses on real-money gaming

Zynga today held its annual stockholders meeting in San Francisco, which heavily focused on the game company’s real-money gaming efforts, an anonymous shareholder told PandoDaily.

Zynga’s shareholder meeting comes one day after the company just laid off 18 percent of its staff (520 employees) and shut down three of its offices — Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York — including Omgpop‘s office.

In October 2012, Zynga announced a partnership with real-money gaming operator bwin.party, where bwin would help support real-money games from Zynga in the U.K. The social games giant Zynga launched its first two web-based (client download as well) real-money games — Zynga Plus Poker (review) and Zynga Plus Casino (review) — in April. PandoDaily’s anonymous source says that Zynga referenced positive preliminary reports in the European market.

Zynga looking to real-money gaming to save the company isn’t anything new. Although we have speculated that Zynga may not be able to convert its non-real money audience, which sits at 253 million monthly active users (MAU) as of its last earnings, to real-money gamers. And, with real-money gaming unlikely to be legal on a federal level in the U.S. any time soon, it might be a long shot that real-money gaming will save Zynga from its current troubles.

Phil Gordon, founder and CEO of social gaming startup Jawfish Games, tells Inside Mobile Apps that the real-money gaming market in Europe is already saturated, with the likes of Ladbrokes, Bwin, 888, PokerStars and more.

“Muscling your way into a saturated market with undifferentiated products will not be easy, even with a billion dollars in cash,” Gordon tells us. “Trying to do so with a team comprised of engineers and game designers that don’t have any real-world, real-money experience is a recipe for disappointment.”

Gordon advises Zynga to acquire a small, existing real-money poker or real-money gaming provider in order to kick start what he sees as a “difficult” and “painful” learning experience.

“Were I an investor, I’d be very wary of a company that is ‘slow playing’ their way to a winning hand in real-money gaming,” he says.