Casino groups MGM and Boyd Gaming announced on Monday an agreement with Gibraltar-based bwin.party to provide online poker to US customers in the event that legislation passes to legalize and regulate online poker.
The B&M casino owners would operate online poker under the bwin.party brand. Although there were few specifics, it appears that the European group would provide the software platform, and the casino brands may host individual skins on the network.
“pwin,” the largest publicly-traded online gambling company in the world, is the result of a March 2011 merger between PartyGaming – owner of household brands PartyPoker and the World Poker Tour – and sportsbook bwin – operator of the Ongame Network. PartyGaming operates the second largest poker network in the world; Ongame the fifth.
“These arrangements have been put in place to prepare ourselves for the next step,” bwin.party Co-CEO Jim Ryan told the LVRJ. “Ultimately, we see a number of MGM, Boyd and bwin.party websites all acquiring players. We’re laying a foundation for a very important milestone.”
“Bwin.party is a company that has done it right and done it successfully,” MGM Chairman Murren said. “They have operated successfully in strictly regulated environments.”
PartyGaming operated in the United States prior to the passing of the UIGEA. In 2009, the group paid a $105m penalty to the US Department of Justice, admitted that it “had targeted US citizens,” resulting in the processing of transactions that were “contrary to certain US laws.”
Since Black Friday, there has been a flurry of activity bringing together the large B&M brands and the online poker world: Caesars signed a deal with 888poker in March, Station Casinos owners purchased software provider CyberArts, and recently the Trump group has disclosed a serious interest on internet gaming.
“It’s such a shadowy, amorphous market today,” Murren said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We do know that millions of Americans are gambling online, we do know that they’re gambling billions of dollars, we know that the U.S. government is deriving no benefit from this, no job creation, no tax revenue, and we know that many are at risk.”