Now is The Perfect Time to Launch BetMGM Poker in Nevada. Here's Why. Now is The Perfect Time to Launch BetMGM Poker in Nevada. Here's Why.

For the last three years, there has been strong speculation that BetMGM is close to launching its online poker platform in Nevada. Hands up — we’ve played our part in that speculation. We floated the idea back in 2022 (more than once).

BetMGM said itself back then that it hoped to launch in NV “soon”. And we know it was hiring key online poker personnel in Nevada around that time. But that “soon” was two years ago.

In 2023, they ran another live BetMGM Poker Championships in Nevada, again fueling rumors than an NV online poker debut could come. Then there was F1 in Las Vegas last November. With all the attention on Sin City, maybe that will be the catalyst to launch?

Well, it wasn’t. So why would 2024 be different? We’re still cautiously optimistic — and it makes sense to do so not just this year, but this spring.

Here’s three reasons why.

Clock Ticking With Regulator

MGM Resorts Interactive — the digital subsidiary of MGM Resorts International, which owns half of BetMGM — has held an interactive gaming license in Nevada for well over a decade. In Nevadan parlance, interactive gaming is synonymous with online poker — no other forms of online gambling are allowed.

So, MGM has a license for online poker — and only online poker — but it has never used it. And every year, MGM has returned to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) to ask for an extension.

The last time this occurred, in April 2023, a one-year extension was granted — but it was not without friction. At the hearing, board members considering the application voiced concerns that delays in launching online poker “seemed excessive.”

“It seems like the company has made some bad decisions,” NGCB member George Assad said at the last hearing, criticizing what he called MGM’s “hesitation” to launch online poker in Nevada, the Nevada Independent reported at the time.

He reportedly suggested that MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle make a final decision on whether or not to “activate” its online poker license.

Well, that final decision has not yet been made — and if it doesn’t launch online poker, its going to have to go back to the same panel and request yet another extension soon.

With Shared Liquidity “Imminent,” a Tandem Nevada Launch Makes Sense

While BetMGM has been quiet about its plans in Nevada lately, it has been more open about its US online poker plans in general. BetMGM said during a business update last December that a launch of shared liquidity for online poker was “imminent.”

This almost certainly refers to combining its player pools in Michigan and New Jersey, where it is already active with two online poker sites. PokerStars took such a step on January 1, 2023. The shared liquidity from that move boosted PokerStars NJ revenue by 43% year-over-year. BetMGM wants to do the same.

But there’s nothing preventing them launching BetMGM Poker NV at the same time. Nevada is part of the multi-state online poker pact allowing cross-border player pooling. Launching BetMGM NV, and combining it with its existing players in Michigan and New Jersey, would be historic: no other site has connected the three largest online poker markets under a single network.

It would make its multi-state BetMGM USA network efforts really land with a splash, and make its Nevada operation competitive with the incumbent WSOP on Day 1.

Well-Timed Launch Pivotal to Success

Back to MGM. It owns half of BetMGM, and it also owns a lot of the Las Vegas Strip — including the ARIA, the home venue for the ARIA Poker Classic. The series will be in its third year in 2024 and has coincided with the rival World Series of Poker (WSOP) for both of its previous runs.

The ARIA Poker Classic is highly regarded by players and attracts some big names. Many players enjoy participating in both the WSOP and ARIA series. Last year, it culminated with the BetMGM Poker Championship from June 9-13.

Look for BetMGM to take advantage of the summer peak, when Las Vegas will welcome thousands of players for WSOP 2024. Last year’s WSOP attracted a record 250,000 participants. Last year’s ARIA series was almost a complete overlap of WSOP 2023, which ran from May 30 to July 18, 2023. WSOP 2024 will run from May 28 to July 17, 2024.

A well-timed launch of BetMGM Poker NV would draw significantly more players. The operator could run online satellite tournaments to the ARIA Poker Classic to generate even more excitement for the series. Doing this across a three-state network — including Nevada — makes a whole lot of sense.