Regulators license MGM Resorts' planned Web gambling subsidiary

16 November 2012
By Howard Stutz

LAS VEGAS -- MGM Resorts International's planned online gaming subsidiary was licensed Thursday by the Nevada Gaming Commission to operate an interactive poker website in Nevada.

MGM Resorts officials told regulators the company would wait until real-money poker and casino online company Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment plc is licensed by the state before launching its website., MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming Corporation have a partnership agreement to operate the online poker in Nevada and throughout the United States if Congress legalizes the activity.

Bwin.Party is licensed in Gibraltar and operates throughout Europe. The company is awaiting licensing from Nevada gaming regulators, but the application isn't expected to be heard until sometime next year.

Under the agreement, Bwin.Party owns 65 percent of the operation, MGM Resorts owns 25 percent and Boyd Gaming has 10 percent.

Online poker websites modeled after MGM Resorts' nine Strip resort brands, such as Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and The Mirage, would be placed in the same network as Bwin.Party's major brands, PartyPoker and World Poker Tour.

The brands would share marketing and player information.

Initially, the company, MGM Online, plans to launch a free-play Internet poker site early next year in preparation for real-money poker.

MGM Resorts General Counsel John McManus told commissioners the company's compliance committee investigated Bwin.Party before a deal with the online company was reached.

Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard said the granting of an interactive gaming license to MGM Resorts wasn't an endorsement of Bwin.Party.

The company, he said, will have to be licensed on its own accord.

MGM Resorts is responsible for customer acquisition, marketing, customer support and retention of the poker websites. Bwin.Party is providing the technology for the gaming system.

Two other companies also received interactive gaming approval Thursday by the commission.

Z4Poker LLC of Las Vegas was licensed as an interactive gaming manufacturer and provider while Cams LLC of Los Angeles was licensed as an interactive gaming service provider for geolacation technology, patron identification and payment processing.

State gaming regulators approved Interactive gaming regulations for poker earlier this year following authorization last year by the Nevada Legislature.

Since June, Boyd Gaming, Fertitta Interactive LLC, the Golden Nugget, South Point Poker, Global Cash Access Holdings, Bally Technologies, SHFL Entertainment, American Casino and Entertainment Properties, PokerTrip Enterprises, NetEffect Networks, International Game Technology, Monarch Interactive and WMS Industries have all received interactive gaming licenses.

It's unclear when the state's first pay-to-play online poker website will go live.

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