Zynga said that it has applied to the Nevada Gaming Control Board for a "preliminary finding of suitability" that would clear the way to seek a license to let players of its online games bet real cash.
"This filing continues our strategic effort to enter regulated RMG (real money gaming) markets in a prudent way," Zynga chief revenue officer Barry Cottle said in an email statement.
"As we've said previously, the broader US market is an opportunity that's further out on the horizon based on legislative developments, but we are preparing for a regulated market."
Zynga expected it to take a year to 18 months before the outcome of the application is known and did not reveal whether it intended to pursue a Nevada gambling license of any kind if it is successful.
Poker and casino style games are among popular Zynga titles.
The Nevada move came less than two months after Zynga announced a partnership with RMG operator Bwin.party to run poker, roulette, blackjack and other virtual casino games in Britain.
RMG games from Zynga should be available for play in Britain in the first half of next year, according to Cottle.
"Partnering with an established leader like Bwin.party is a strategic and prudent way for us to enter a key RMG market while giving local players the real money games they've been asking us for," Cottle said when the partnership was announced.
In October, Zynga began trimming workers, shuttering studios and shelving older titles to get in financial shape for the long term.
Zynga was "parting ways" with five percent of its approximately 3,300 full-time workers and dumping 13 games, along with significantly cutting its investment in "The Ville" franchise.
The cost-cutting measures are intended to let Zynga focus on more promising games and ramp up its network on the Web and on mobile devices.
Zynga rose to stardom by tailoring games for play by friends on Facebook and went on to create its own online playground at zynga.com.