“We are delighted to extend our relationship with MGM Resorts and to be launching casino and poker under the playMGM brand in New Jersey,” said GVC Chief Operating Officer Shay Segev in the press release. “MGM Resorts is quite simply one of the biggest and best names in the business, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”
“This is a historic moment for MGM Resorts to be launching real money online casino and poker under the MGM brand for the first time,” said MGM Resorts COO Corey Sanders. “GVC has been a first-rate partner for us, and we are excited about the possibilities of extending that partnership as regulated markets open up in the US.”
MGM plans to launch online poker and online casino “later this year.” There is no definitive launch date.
What to expect from playMGM
The selection of GVC as its online gaming platform provider isn’t surprising.
GVC is already powering the Borgata online gambling sites in New Jersey. MGM owns Borgata. The playMGM online casino and poker sites will operate as a sub-brand under Borgata’s online gambling license in the state.
The playMGM online casino and online poker room will be an extension of Borgata’s online gaming sites. It will have the same software, features and games. The only noticeable difference will be the branding.
Will MGM be able to grow the market?
The addition of the MGM brand will expand the already sizable reach of Borgata’s database in what has become a hyper-competitive online market.
This should result in a solid market share for the MGM sub-brand and a much-needed boost to Borgata’s revenues.
Borgata jumped out to an early market share lead in 2013. It maintained its hold on the top spot for roughly three years, but it has since been overtaken by Golden Nugget.
More troubling for Borgata, other operators are also challenging it, including the ascendant Resorts. The addition of MGM may not be enough to push Borgata past Golden Nugget. However, it should help fend off other challengers that have emerged in a rapidly maturing market.
This late in the game, there simply aren’t any significant untapped markets MGM will be able to reach, even with its nationally known brand. Therefore, most of its growth will likely come from existing operators.
Because of this, MGM is unlikely to have a significant impact on the industry as a whole. But it does have a chance to reestablish Borgata as a major player in the New Jersey market.
Online poker will be a challenge
New entries to the online casino market have had little trouble competing with existing operators. But online poker will be a different story.
MGM won’t be starting from zero, as it will share the same network as the PartyPoker and BorgataPoker online poker rooms. It would be quite surprising if MGM moved the needle, considering PokerStars‘ 2016 launch.
The biggest name in online poker, PokerStars was only able to produce a short-lived bounce before the industry fell back to its previous levels. It’s unlikely MGM will put the same amount of time and money into its poker product. That’s not to mention there was a core group of players who were holding out and waiting for PokerStars to enter the New Jersey online poker market. That will not be the case for MGM.
At this stage, New Jersey online poker is more or less tapped.[i15-table tableid=20717][i15-table tableid=20704]
Impact on PA and beyond
Perhaps the most important aspect of an MGM-branded online gambling site is what it accomplishes in the national online gambling conversation.
MGM has a strong lobbying presence in numerous states. It is well positioned in several states either with legal online gambling or considering online gambling legalization.
- Operates a number of casino properties in Nevada. The Silver State has already legalized online poker.
- Is in talks to purchase the Sands Bethlehem Casino from Las Vegas Sands in neighboring Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a frontrunner to pass an online gambling bill in 2017.
- Operates a casino in Michigan, where an online gambling bill has been introduced each of the past two years.
- Is in the construction phase of a billion-dollar casino project in Massachusetts. That is yet another state exploring online gambling legalization.
With MGM’s official entry into online gambling fast approaching, it has an opportunity to flex its lobbying muscle in some of these other jurisdictions. That could be enough to push legislation across the finish line.
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