The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) gave preliminary approval Wednesday to ROAR Digital, the joint online sports betting venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC.
Barring an unlikely veto from the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) later this month, MGM’s current sports betting app, PlayMGM, will be replaced in Nevada by the venture’s BetMGM platform.
First announced in 2018 shortly after the US Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting, the US casino giant and the British online gaming group each contributed $100 million to the ROAR Digital venture in a bid to corner the emerging state markets.
No Roaring Start
But a thumbs up from Nevada regulators was not always assured. In May of last year, GVC representatives, including CEO Kenny Alexander, received a grilling at the hands of the NGCB during a license application..
Board member Terry Johnson wanted to know about GVC’s gray-market business around the world, particularly its Turkish operations, which it had offloaded for free a year previously to help smooth the passage of its takeover of Ladbrokes Coral.
Johnson berated the company for overseeing its Turkish arm so badly that employees had been siphoning off money, a situation GVC could do little about because its operations were illegal inside Turkey.
Johnson voted against recommending a license, which led to a nervy meeting with the NGC, during which GVC representatives apologized for their testy reaction to Johnson’s line of questioning.
GVC was ultimately granted a provisional rather than full license, which is subject to reassessment every two years. It was also ordered to pay $100,000 to cover future investigations into its compliance procedures by Nevada regulators.
GVC squeaked through, knowing that rejection in Nevada would very likely have led to rejection in other US jurisdictions, which could potentially have led to the premature demise of the partnership.
Bid for Domination
ROAR Digital already operates online sports betting in New Jersey. It recently signed an official digital media sports partnership deal with Yahoo! Sports that will see the Yahoo! Sports mobile app integrated with the BetMGM platform.
It is also pursuing deals as a supplier of sports-betting services to regional non-MGM casinos. It has been actively courting in states where sports betting has not yet been legalized, targeting, in particular, the Native American gaming sector.
MGM also has a deal with Boyd Gaming that will allow both parties to offer sports betting in jurisdictions where one or the other operates physical casinos, furthering its potential footprint across the US.