New Jersey Approves Online Gambling: 3 Stocks to Benefit
In a statement, Christie said the decision was critical, and "one that I did not make lightly." The governor had previously vetoed a bill on online gambling, but signaled that he would approve it with some recommended changes. Christie asked for a time limit, a tax-rate increase, and additional money set aside for compulsive-gambling programs.
Last week, Nevada became the first state in the nation to approve online gambling, as Gov. Brian Sandoval signed legislation after the Nevada State Senate and Assembly approved the bill.
Zynga may stand to benefit, due in large part to its popular Texas Hold 'Em app, "Zynga Poker." Last June, "Zynga Poker" had 30 million monthly average users, according to Mike Gupta, the company's then treasurer and vice president of finance. Gupta also told TheStreet that online gambling was on the company's radar.
"It is something we're exploring," he said. "We think it's an interesting adjacency to what we do in our core business."
Traditional casino operators will stand to benefit, some more so than others, says Credit Suisse analyst Joel Simkins. Simkins cited Boyd Gaming and Caesar's Entertainment as two names that would be beneficiaries.
"Depending on how its sliced, online gaming in N.J. could be a $250 million to $500 million market and while we believe both companies have the capabilities (in-house or through partnerships) to implement platforms quickly, competition could be high, with margins at more modest levels initially," Simkins wrote in a Feb. 7 research note.
Sterne Agee's David Bain also cited Boyd Gaming as a beneficiary, due in large part to its presence in Atlantic City. Boyd, along with MGM Resorts, owns Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The analyst, who rates Boyd shares "neutral," did temper optimism, however, on the gaming space as a whole.
Caesar's (formerly Harrah's Entertainment), has exceptionally strong brands, including the World Series of Poker, which would play well with social gaming.
Hedge fund manager John Paulson cited Caesar's potential for online gambling at the Ira Sohn investment conference last year.
Shares of Zynga were higher in early Wednesday trading, up 2.98 percent to $3.46, while shares of Boyd and Caesar's jumped 6.46 percent and 4.37 percent to $6.92 and $12.66, respectively.
—By TheStreet.com's Chris Ciaccia
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