Borgata Partners with GAN for Play Money Gaming, Real Money a Possibility
GAN, rebranded in September from the GameAccount Network, announced Friday that it has partnered with the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City to offer its “Simulated Gaming” product. Of even greater interest, the agreement also provides the opportunity for GAN to become the Borgata’s real-money regulated gaming partner should “certain conditions” be met.
GAN, as GameAccount Network, was founded in 2002 and today offers “provider agnostic” gaming platforms for casinos. What that means is that the casino is not bound to GAN’s own games. GAN’s platform can integrate games from any other software provider in addition to its own, so the casino is left with a great deal of flexibility when putting together its online gaming package.
As it probably sounds, Simulate Gaming is essentially play-money gambling. GAN set the same thing up with New York’s Empire City casino in October 2014. Though it is free, players still must be at least 18 years old to sign up, though they can play from anywhere in the country — provided the state in which they live permits internet gaming, but that does not appear to be a legitimate obstacle here. No real money is wagered and no prizes of value are awarded, but as in many free-to-play online and social games, players can buy virtual credits for real money. The least expensive credit bundle at Empire City is 7,000 credits for $4.99, while those that are REALLY into it can spend as much as $199 for 900,000 credits. What a bargain.
Those who buy virtual credits with real money can receive some points on their Empire City rewards card. Players also receive 500 free credits per day.
This sounds like what will be happening with GAN and Borgata initially. According to the press release, the Simulated Gaming offering is “designed to reassert Borgata’s relationship with patrons playing Social Casinos online by offering a superior value proposition integrated with My Borgata Rewards loyalty program.”
But of course, there is that real-money regulated gaming prospect. The Borgata’s current online gaming operator is bwin.party, whose software powers two New Jersey-based online poker sites, BorgataPoker.com and nj.PartyPoker.com. While the New Jersey internet gambling industry has not been nearly as lucrative as analysts had predicted, Borgata’s online poker has competed just fine in the state. Through most of the New Jersey regulated gaming industry’s short history, it has been the leading network in the Garden State, but it fell to second (out of two currently, though a couple other sites have come and gone) after WSOP.com and 888 merged their liquidity. According to PokerScout.com, the Party Borgata network in New Jersey has a seven-day average of 140 cash-game players, while WSOP/888 has 190. Neither number is overly impressive, though they are both in the class of several international networks and poker rooms.
Last year, GVC Holdings purchased bwin.party, which is all well and good except for the fact that GVC does not have a license to operate an online poker room in New Jersey. Earlier this month, New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) Director David Rebuck granted GVC an operational waiver, allowing bwin.party to continue to operate the Borgata’s poker sites while GVC’s licensing application is under evaluation. The catch, though, is that bwin.party employees manning the operations can have no communication with GVC.
There is not necessarily any firm reason to believe that GVC will not eventually see its license approved, but it has behooved Borgata to find a replacement operator should it not be able to rely upon GVC/bwin.party in the future. That’s where GAN comes in.
In GAN’s press release, it mentions “certain conditions” that need to be met before it would become Borgata’s real-money gaming partner. It appears that these conditions are the approval of the GAN/Borgata alliance by the DGE and the go-ahead from Borgata. GAN is already licensed in New Jersey – it powers BetfairCasino.com.
In the announcement, Dermot Smurfit, CEO of GAN said:
Our strategic market positioning is to serve as an enterprise-level solution for either Simulated Gaming or real money Regulated Gaming and, in certain circumstances, our single technology platform may serve both requirements. In 2016 Simulated Gaming will be served to the majority of Borgata’s patrons who live out-of-State and, in the event GAN receives Borgata’s consent to commence operations is equally capable of simultaneously serving real money Regulated Gaming to the Borgata’s patrons resident in New Jersey.
Tom Ballance, President and COO of Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa, also gave his two cents:
GAN’s experience and capability, combined with the power of the Borgata brand, will enable the successful launch of Borgata’s Simulated Gaming online experience. This launch will add another business segment to Borgata’s portfolio and will further diversify Borgata’s varied offerings. We also take great comfort in having GAN’s excellent real money Internet gaming product available to us as needed.