MGM, GVC to Launch MGM-Branded Online Poker Room in New Jersey
MGM Resorts International announced on Wednesday that it has partnered with GVC Holdings to launch a new online poker room and casino in New Jersey later this year. The site will launch under the playMGM brand.
“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’s Chief Operating Officer Shay Segev in a 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.”
The previous relationship to which Segev refers is through the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Borgata has used GVC’s online gaming products for a number of years, including the partypoker online poker platform. In mid-2016, MGM acquired Boyd Gaming Corporation’s 50 percent stake in the Borgata for $900 million. MGM previous owned 50 percent of the Borgata, so when we carry the one, that means that the MGM now owns all of the famed Atlantic City casino.
Interestingly, MGM will essentially be competing against itself with the launch of playMGM. The Party Borgata Network is comprised of two site: BorgataPoker.com and nj.PartyPoker.com. Both are powered by GVC and clearly one is a Borgata brand and the Borgata is owned by MGM.
The Party Borgata Network was once the most popular in New Jersey, but since PokerStars happened upon the scene, the network’s player traffic has dropped precipitously. According to PokerScout, the Party Borgata Network has a seven-day average of just 65 cash game players. PokerStars has 110 players and WSOP/888 has continued to do well, leading the market with a seven-day average of 240 cash game players.
“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 Chief Operating Office 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 U.S.”
One would assume the playMGM would be added to the Party Borgata Network since all the rooms will use the same software and it would be silly for MGM to have two, separate, competing poker rooms. Certainly, there will be competition to an extent as playMGM and Borgata Poker will be separate skins, but the idea is probably to give the network a boost with the brand recognition of MGM.
Players on the new online poker room will also get to take advantage of MGM’s M life Rewards program; it wouldn’t be surprising if there were promos at some point to encourage crossover between internet players and brick-and-mortar players. One would assume that valuable rewards would require a lot of online play, but one could also imagine that New Jersey online players might have the opportunity to cash in their rewards for stays at MGM’s Las Vegas properties. The possibilities are endless!
MGM has been quite active in the push for expanded online gambling in the United States. Though it does not have an online poker room in Nevada, it does offer Nevadans sports betting with the playMGM app. It also offers real-money slot tournaments in Nevada with the easyPLAY platform.
MGM CEO Jim Murren has also been outspoken against a possible federal online gambling like Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). For example, in a 2015 interview with News3LV in Las Vegas, he said:
So we have to very thoughtfully and just be honest with ourselves, the world wants these kinds of products. They want to gamble on fantasy football, they want to play internet poker…I’m cool with that, they should be able to do that. I am not ‘Mr. Moral’ that I am supposed to impose my morals on somebody else. What I am is someone that is highly concerned that illegal activity is being undertaken today that is hurting all of us.
So if it’s completely banned, which some of my operators are proposing that right now, it’s not going to hurt us. Because people are still going to come here to Bellagio. It’s a missed opportunity, but it’s a false promise. And that’s my only point: You can ban it, but it’s not going to go away, it’s going to go further underground, it’s going to be more dangerous to people that gamble, and we have not solved what should be the biggest issue, which is to make sure that commercial activity is regulated and is done in an ethical manner that the most vulnerable of us cannot be hurt.
He also took a jab at Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., who clearly wants a federal ban because he is afraid that internet gambling will hurt his casinos.
“We also know that the experiences we create here in Las Vegas cannot be replicated on an iPhone, or on an iPad, or on a laptop, or on a home computer, and we shouldn’t be intimidated by that,” Murren said.