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MGM Resorts Eyes California Sports Betting Market

Sports Betting Not Yet Legal In Golden State


MGM Resorts and GVC Holdings took their gambling relationship to new heights on Tuesday with the announcement of a partnership aimed at an upcoming California sports betting market.

The groups formed the joint venture MGM GVC Interactive LLC and now have inked a partnership with the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC). The groups said the arrangement was the “first of its kind” for the Golden State, home to the nation’s largest population.

“As the operator of Thunder Valley Casino Resort, UAIC represents an ideal initial partner for MGM-GVC in California, providing access to the U.S.’s largest state by population, if and when state law permits sports betting,” a press release stated.

In mid-May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that banned traditional sports betting outside of Nevada. A handful of states are now in the business.

MGM, GVC and UAIC’s arrangement comes at a time when the future of California’s gambling industry remains in limbo. Lawmakers and stakeholders unsuccessfully tried for nearly a decade to legalize and regulate online poker. Sports betting could prove to create the same hurdles.

“It is not yet clear if California will authorize sports betting or interactive games generally, but with the overturn of PASPA possibly opening the door for sports betting, our Tribe wants to be well-situated, and this agreement with the national leader in the field does just that,” said Gene Whitehouse, Chairman of UAIC.

UAIC had previously joined an online gambling coalition with PokerStars, owner of the sports betting platform BetStars, for potential California online poker. These days, UAIC does not have any partnership with the world’s largest poker platform.

Under the terms of the partnership, MGM-GVC would provide its brands and proprietary technology to enable UAIC to offer retail and mobile sports betting and online casino and poker if and when any are permitted under state law.

MGM has an existing partnership with the National Basketball Association, which was also attractive to UAIC, according to the press release.

Isle of Man-based GVC is the owner of partypoker and also MGM’s partner for online gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey under the Borgata casino license.

Sports betting is the hottest casino offering in the country right now. The market could grow to as much as $6 billion in winnings for the casino industry within the next five years.

MGM and GVC announced their sports betting joint venture, which called for each group investing $100 million, back in late July. “Together, we are creating a one-of-a-kind platform that we expect will dominate the U.S. sports betting market,” MGM CEO Jim Murren said.