Deal can be leveraged in 15 states where two companies have casinos

MGM Resorts, Boyd Gaming Announce ‘Unprecedented’ Online Gambling, Sports Betting Partnership In US

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MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming announced what they are calling an ‘unprecedented partnership’ on Monday morning focused on the future of both online gambling and sports betting around the US.

The news came at the same time as MGM officially announced a deal with GVC Holdings to provide its online gambling and sports betting platform.

MGM + Boyd

The two huge gaming companies, which have casinos in a combined 15 states, said they will work together on online casino, sports betting and poker as opportunities crop up in new states. The deal’s goal, a press release from MGM, is “to significantly increase each company’s market access and customer base throughout the United States.”

Currently, some form of online gambling is legal in four states, while sports wagering is coming to at least six states by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

How will the partnership work? More from MGM:

Under this partnership, MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming will both have the opportunity to offer online and mobile gaming platforms – including sports betting, casino gaming and poker – in jurisdictions where either Boyd Gaming or MGM Resorts operate physical casino resorts and online licenses are available.

Boyd, MGM: Together again

The two companies once held an equal stake in the Borgata in New Jersey before MGM bought out Boyd in 2016. The two companies together saw firsthand the additive opportunity online gambling revenue could provide to the bottom line when done well. Borgata’s online casino held an early lead in the NJ online casino industry before being overtaken by Golden Nugget.

“We are excited to team yet again with Boyd Gaming on this unprecedented partnership, which allows us to fully engage with the almost 30 million M life Rewards members throughout the country,” said MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren. “We look forward to expanding our entertainment options for guests beyond their visits to our land-based resorts.”

“Our industry is evolving, providing opportunities for growth through new forms of gaming like online and mobile gaming,” said Boyd Gaming President and CEO Keith Smith. “Thanks to our partnership with MGM Resorts, Boyd Gaming will have the opportunity to potentially add an online presence in five additional states, positioning us for significant future growth as our respective companies take a leadership role in our industry’s evolution.”

So, that’s a lot of states

Beyond New Jersey and Nevada (where both companies have casinos), the deal would impact 13 other states, potentially. Here is the full list:

  1. Nevada (MGM & Boyd)
  2. Maryland (MGM)
  3. Massachusetts (MGM – upon opening of MGM Springfield)
  4. Michigan (MGM)
  5. Mississippi (MGM & Boyd)
  6. New York (MGM – pending closure of Empire City purchase)
  7. Illinois (Boyd – MGM pending sale of Grand Victoria)
  8. Indiana (Boyd)
  9. Iowa (Boyd)
  10. Kansas (Boyd)
  11. Louisiana (Boyd)
  12. Pennsylvania (Boyd – pending closure of purchase of Valley Forge)
  13. Ohio (Boyd – pending closure of purchase from Pinnacle)
  14. Missouri (Boyd – pending closure of purchase from Pinnacle)
  15. New Jersey – (MGM)

Of those, some are further ahead on both online gambling and sports betting than the others:

  • Pennsylvania online casinos/poker and PA sports betting are already legal in the state; a rollout is pending the finalization of regulations and vetting of applicants in the state.
  • Nevada already has online poker and sports betting.
  • Mississippi is in the process of allowing regulated sports betting, although it will only be at land-based casinos to start.
  • New York has technically legalized sports wagering at its four commercial casinos, but it’s not clear if anything will happen without a new law from Albany. The Senate has passed legislation to legalize online poker in the past.

Of the rest of those states, all of them have at least pondered legalizing sports betting, either via introduced legislation or chatter in their respective statehouses. An Illinois online casino bill has also made it through the Senate in the past.

MGM is serious about online gambling

We already knew that MGM was high on the future of sports wagering around the US. But this new deal, in tandem with the GVC announcement, shows a new level of commitment to the future of iGaming from MGM.

If MGM was sometimes silently pushing for online gambling in legislation around the country before, this is perhaps the most visible sign yet of how committed the company is to online gambling moving forward.

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And about that GVC deal…

The deal with GVC came in parallel, after Sky News first reported on it. The two companies are entering into “a 50/50 joint venture to create a world-class sports betting and online gaming platform in the United States,” according to MGM.

Each company is putting up $100 million for the venture, which “will establish a separate headquarters to be located in a major U.S. technology hub, select a leadership team comprised of best-in-class talent from each company and additional new hires, and form a four-person board of directors with equal representation from MGM Resorts and GVC to oversee the venture’s ongoing operations and growth.”

“We are proud to join forces with GVC, the largest and most dynamic global online betting operator, with existing reputable and trusted operations in the U.S. With MGM Resorts’ expertise and leading position in key markets across the U.S., this historic partnership will be positioned to become the instant leader in technology, market access, sports relationships and brands,” Murren said.

“We are excited to benefit from GVC’s proprietary, best-in-class technology, digital customer acquisition expertise, and experience with adapting to new operating environments. GVC is unusually qualified due to their existing operations in the U.S. Together, we are creating a one-of-a-kind platform that we expect will dominate the U.S. sports betting market.”

GVC already partners with MGM for its Borgata online casino; the new deal extends to the rest of the country. When considered in terms of the Boyd deal, it suddenly makes GVC a major player around the US for both sports betting and iGaming.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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