MGM launches playMGM Online Poker and Casino

MGM Launches playMGM Online Poker and Casino Sites in New Jersey

The New Jersey online gambling market has gotten a little cozier, as playMGM.com, using the highly recognizable MGM brand name, launched playMGMpoker.com and playMGMcasino.com in the Garden State this week. PlayMGM, whose impending takeoff was announced three months ago, has partnered with GVC Holdings (partypoker) on the endeavor.

MGM and GVC already have a history in New Jersey. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, owned by MGM, has used GVC’s platform for its online casino and online poker sites for several years now. MGM used to be 50/50 owner of the Borgata with Boyd Gaming Corporation, but last year bought out Boyd’s portion of the property to become its full owner.

PlayMGM.launched Tuesday, August 1st, the beginning of a five-day “soft launch” phase during which the site is open for limited hours as things are tested before the full rollout.

“We are thrilled to be entering the online gaming landscape in New Jersey with the expansion of our playMGM.com platform to include both casino and poker games,” said MGM Resorts International Chief Operating Office Corey Sanders in a Thursday press release. “The ability to effectively bring Las Vegas to New Jersey via an online experience is an exciting undertaking, especially as we continue to develop our presence on the East Coast with the recent acquisition of Borgata, the opening of MGM National Harbor and the pending 2018 opening of MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.”

What makes this interesting, besides the big brand name, is that this means MGM has decided to compete with itself in New Jersey. The Party Borgata network (BorgataPoker.com and nj.PartyPoker.com) is already entrenched, as is Borgata’s online casino site, but now comes along playMGM on both fronts.

At the same time, perhaps the idea is that playMGM will help, particularly on the poker end of things. Party Borgata was once the market leader in New Jersey, but with the partnership of the World Series of Poker and 888poker as well as the entrance of PokerStars into the market, Party Borgata has fallen to third place and isn’t really doing all that swimmingly. PokerStars has a seven-day average of 130 cash game players in New Jersey, according to PokerScout.com, WSOP/888 has 110 cash game players, and Party Borgata has just 80.

The playMGMpoker.com site will be inserted into the Party Borgata network, as it is using the partypoker platform, so that will serve the initial purpose of giving playMGM immediately liquidity, even if the players are not technically playMGM’s. Then, what MGM might be thinking is that playMGM will enhance the network’s brand recognition (though in New Jersey, who doesn’t know the Borgata?) and bring in more players to the network.

Ideally, those hypothetically added players would be people who hadn’t already been playing online poker in New Jersey, thus growing the market, but MGM wouldn’t mind if they were just syphoned from PokerStars and WSOP/888. The worst case scenario would be if new playMGM customers defected from one of the other Party Borgata sites.

To attract customers, playMGMpoker.com is offering a pretty generous new player bonus (it’s still not as good as the bonuses during the poker boom, but for today’s online poker environment, it’s nice). Any new player who creates a real money account and makes a deposit (it does not appear that there is a minimum deposit amount for this promotion) will receive $25 in cash up-front with almost no restrictions.

Of that $25, $10 will be straight-up online cash to use however one wants. It can be withdrawn when a player earns one iRewards points, so virtually no playthrough requirements on that. The other $15 will be issued in tournament dollars, so obviously those can only be used in tournaments and cannot be withdrawn directly. But still, even with the smallest tournament cash, you’re still profiting.

Additionally, every new customer will get a 100 percent deposit match up to $2,000. The bonus is released in 10 percent increments, so a $100 bonus will be released $10 at a time. Now here, there are playthrough requirements: 20x iRewards points per bonus increment. So, in the example we used here, the first $10 bonus increment would be released when 200 iRewards points are earned.

Aside from the playthrough requirement, which is something we expect with bonuses, the biggest catch here is that players only have seven days to clear the bonus. After the seven days, whatever hasn’t been earned goes away.

Now, in many similar scenarios, I’d say having only seven days to clear the bonus is terrible, but you just accept that for what it is and deposit as much as possible and see how much bonus you can earn. That is not a good idea in the case of playMGMpoker.com, though, because of the 10 percent increment release. Since the size of the increment is relative to the size of the deposit/total bonus, players will need to give some thought to how much they want to deposit. The worst thing that could happen (aside from going busto) would be to deposit a large chunk of money, only to have that first bonus increment be too difficult to release. Now you’ve tied up money for a while and failed to earn any bonus at all. Better to go with a smaller number, limit the total upside, but maximize the realistic amount of bonus earned.

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