MGM Resorts International is ready to wade into online gambling waters in New Jersey. No launch date has been set, but the Las Vegas-based casino giant said its “playMGM” online casino will be ready to go in the Garden State sometime “later this year.”
MGM will partner with GVC Holdings, a multinational sports betting and gaming group out of Isle of Man, to create its digital casino platform. GVC has licenses in 14 countries and operates some of the leading online gambling brands in the world, including SportingBet, partypoker, and bwin.
MGM won’t be totally new to the New Jersey online gambling market. MGM currently dabbles in New Jersey online through its Atlantic City casino partner, Borgata. But the new playMGM site will be an extension accessible directly from the MGMresorts.com website.
Players in Nevada currently can use the playMGM platform to bet on sports using a mobile app from anywhere within Nevada state lines. A similar mobile app will be available for casino and poker players in New Jersey. Sports betting, however, is only legal in Nevada and will not be offered to MGM customers in New Jersey.
Brand New Excitement
MGM is a powerful, international brand. In Las Vegas, the gambling giant operates 11 casinos, all on the world-famous Strip. Its biggest rival, Caesars Entertainment, has nine properties in Sin City. Using the MGM brand along with Borgata could help increase the company’s exposure to online poker 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 Corey Sanders, Chief Operating Officer of MGM Resorts.
Brand-name matters when it comes to marketing, not just for online gambling companies. McDonald’s, for example, will always sell more hamburgers than some local mom and pop burger joint for one simple reason: brand awareness.
GVC could benefit from the MGM name, too. Once playMGM launches, the internet casino parent company will have connections with three gambling sites in New Jersey.
Poker Still Puttering
Online casinos are booming in New Jersey, but only a fraction of the revenues generated have come from poker. Other casino games such as blackjack and online slots have been the primary driver of the gaming industry’s virtual success in the Garden State.
In March, New Jersey’s online casino revenue was up nearly 50 percent year-over-year to $21.7 million. But the rake from online poker was down 8.5 percent, accounting for only $2.3 million.
It’s hard to guess what impact playMGM will have on the New Jersey online poker landscape. In March 2016, PokerStars entered the state after being kept away for years. The world’s largest poker site was expected to dominate the market and kick online poker revenues to new levels.
But that hasn’t exactly happened. PokerStars did quickly ascend to the top of New Jersey’s online poker traffic and revenue rankings, but not by much. Other poker sites, including partypoker and WSOP.com, have remained competitive without seeing any dramatic growth to the size of their player pools.