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MGM Resorts Gives Regulator 'Warm And Fuzzy' Feeling, Wins License For Online Poker In Nevada

Concerns Raised About Its Partner, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment


One of the dominant casino companies in the world now has a license for Internet poker in Nevada. MGM Resorts was approved by the state Gaming Commission on Thursday.

While the company’s application process was smooth, its partnership with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment has caused Nevada regulators to heighten their senses.

Bwin operates one of the most successful online gambling businesses in the world, but some of its markets are so-called legal grey areas. Bwin’s co-CEO was questioned by Belgian authorities Tuesday, stemming from disputes on its business there. Bwin doesn’t have a Belgian license, and is “blacklisted” in their cyberspace.

Commissioner Tony Alamo said he has lots of questions for Bwin, but said he has a “warm and fuzzy” feeling for MGM. Bwin will eventually get its own public licensure hearings.

“We look forward to them coming before this Commission,” MGM said with confidence, although during its presentation it acknowledged there’s no guarantee the firm will be approved. Commissioner John Moran said that Bwin will “probably” be approved.

“Bwin isn’t in front of us, and that’s a good thing,” Moran said of keeping the two companies, although now interwoven for poker, separate for the Nevada licensing process. “MGM in front of me is the gold standard — top company.”

MGM said it has been proactive in its Bwin relationship, comparing its due diligence in the matter to its handling of the nightclubs it operates in Las Vegas.

As for the profits to be reaped from online poker in Nevada, Alamo said that the Silver State is a “loss leader” and that everyone is “waiting for the feds” to turn on the switch. Efforts to legalize online poker nationwide are ongoing.

“As large as your company is, it’s going to be an incremental revenue stream,” Alamo said of MGM’s diverse gambling business still expanding throughout the world.

MGM owns Strip properties Bellagio, Aria, The Mirage, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Excalibur, Circus Circus, as well as a handful of others in the state.

Like its rival gaming giants, MGM invests heavily in casinos projects outside the United States. MGM has interests in Macau, Dubai and Vietnam.

Web poker is not the end goal for casino firms and their technology partners. It’s widely viewed as the gateway to more lucrative games. MGM noted that it doesn’t have a partner for potentially offering other casino games, should they be authorized in the future.

Before merging with Bwin, PartyGaming reached a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department in 2009. PartyGaming paid $105 million in fines for assurance that the government wouldn’t prosecute it for operating in the U.S. prior to the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prompted the firm to leave the American market.

Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus

Tags: Nevada,   Online Poker,   MGM Resorts,   Bwin,   NV


5 years ago

Isnt this great news. Interesting poker stars isn't pursuing this - of couse MGM and Caesars and Adelson and Wynn would leap all over it.

I take this as an excellent sign that PS thinks their prospects for a license independently are good.

Maybe they should open Poker Palace - bricks and mortar - in LV? (although the casinos make vastly more from pit games and poker players staggering in drunk) than they do in rake...

It would be interesting - a starbucks style franchise where they run the poker room (a huge one) in LV licensing the premises from bellagio or some other monster casino...