MGM To Own An Online Gambling Operator Beyond North America

MGM Buying LeoVegas, Positioning Itself To Lead Ontario Online Casino Market

In the US, BetMGM holds the plurality of online casino market share. In Ontario, that may also be true. However, half of BetMGM’s ownership team wants to ensure that it definitely become the province’s market leader. That appears to be why MGM Resorts International announced today that it’s buying LeoVegas for $607 million.

Less than a month ago, Ontario expanded its iGaming marketplace to include private operators. On Launch Day, BetMGM, LeoVegas and Royal Panda were among 13 private operators going live.

The Swedish LeoVegas Group is the parent company for LeoVegas and Royal Panda.

Ontario hasn’t yet released revenue figures, which will reveal the leading operators.

While not completely premature, the announcement anticipates that LeoVegas will accept the bid in June and finalize it in August. As numerous attempted mergers and acquisitions among online gambling operators demonstrate, that’s not a guarantee.

Why MGM wants LeoVegas

Much of online casino marketplace positioning is like the games themselves. It’s psychological. It involves being three moves ahead of the opponents. Plus, it involves having a solid bankroll.

BetMGM leads the US online casino space with 29% of the market share during Q4 2021. BetMGM’s next earnings update comes on May 12. Las Vegas-based MGM jointly owns BetMGM with Isle of Man-headquartered Entain.

Meanwhile, even if BetMGM dominates the Ontario online casino marketplace, adding LeoVegas may help. The Swedish operator had a presence in Ontario far before Launch Day.

The LeoVegas free-to-play game commercials were ubiquitous in the province before April 4, as part of a glut of dot-net ads. While consumers may be sick of them, the ads continue.

Even so, real-money gambling advertising and marketing is tightly controlled in Ontario, and BetMGM didn’t have as much leeway.

At the same time, BetMGM has been competing with 31 Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)-approved online gambling operators since the expanded market launched on April 4.

That’s why LeoVegas may help MGM gain more brand awareness and recognition among Ontarians.

Acquiring LeoVegas will also trim down the number of competitors BetMGM faces in what’s becoming a crowded market. Malta-based ComeOn was the latest to join that list on April 21. That online casino and sports betting operator isn’t yet named by iGaming Ontario (iGO) as having an operating agreement.

LeoVegas stock skyrocketed by nearly 43% today.

What MGM said and didn’t say about LeoVegas

MGM didn’t mention Canada or Ontario in today’s announcement.

Instead, MGM said:

“LeoVegas is a leading global online gaming company with licenses in eight jurisdictions primarily in the Nordics and rest of Europe.”

That may signal that MGM is interested in owning online gambling operations outside of North America.

However, MGM did sound a bit like the Pinky and the Brain cartoon, which is known for this dialogue:

Pinky: What are we going to do tonight?

The Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.

The MGM announcement added:

“Continuing our success and growth in digital gaming, MGM Resorts is expanding internationally with the acquisition of LeoVegas.”

MGM CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle said:

“Our vision is to be the world’s premier gaming entertainment company, and this strategic opportunity with LeoVegas will allow us to continue to grow our reach throughout the world. We have achieved remarkable success with BetMGM in the US, and with the acquisition of LeoVegas in Europe we will expand our online gaming presence globally. We believe that this offer creates a compelling opportunity that allows the combined teams of MGM Resorts and LeoVegas to accelerate our global digital gaming growth and fully realize the potential of our omnichannel strategy. We look forward to being able to welcome the LeoVegas team to our MGM Resorts family.”

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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