MGM Resorts International has launched BetMGM in the UK via its subsidiary LeoVegas, but not with Entain, which is joint owner of the same sports-betting and online casino brand in North America.
The move signals MGM’s desire to expand BetMGM into regulated international markets using the technology and platform of LeoVegas, the Swedish-based gaming company MGM acquired last year for $604m.
Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and president of MGM, said the deal represents a “key step in our international growth strategy, which has been advancing rapidly since our acquisition of LeoVegas”.
“BetMGM is a proven brand in the sports betting and iGaming space, and we look forward to welcoming international players into our platforms designed specifically for them,” Hornbuckle said in a statement.
Hornbuckle’s comments on Thursday (August 17) come about two weeks after he responded to an analyst asking during a second-quarter earnings call for an update on any digital or M&A aspirations in digital both in international markets and in North America.
“As it relates to digital,” Hornbuckle said, “we’re focused on working alongside our partners with a collective goal to maximize the growth and profitability of MGM and LeoVegas.”
“I think we’re making good progress on both those fronts. And that’s really all we’re going to say,” he said.
MGM confirmed Thursday it will continue to operate the BetMGM brand in the United States and Canada utilizing technology and the platform provided by Entain.
In the US, BetMGM is a 50-50 joint venture owned by MGM and Entain. The pair also operate BetMGM in the Ontario market, where Entain also competes independently via its Bwin and Sports Interaction brands.
"We've had great success in the US and Canada with our BetMGM brand and we're confident we can duplicate this success in other markets, beginning with the UK," said Gary Fritz, president of MGM Resorts International Interactive.
"The UK is a mature online gaming market, and we believe the BetMGM brand will provide distinct relevance to both sports bettors and iGaming consumers."
In response to MGM’s move into the UK gambling market, an Entain spokeswoman told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that MGM has been operating an online casino in the UK for “some time under the LeoVegas brand”.
“They are not permitted to operate the BetMGM brand on the highly developed Entain platform utilizing its advanced technology outside the U.S. and Ontario, Canada,” the spokeswoman said. “The UK market is a highly competitive, well-regulated market where many brands operate and where leadership is gained through brand familiarity and high quality, in-house technology.”
Entain does not believe BetMGM’s launch “will make any impact to our business or indeed the market”, the spokeswoman said.
MGM has been focused on growing its international digital business through LeoVegas. In May, LeoVegas acquired games developer Push Gaming for an undisclosed amount.
In July, Entain acquired Angstrom Sports, a company that uses simulation-based predicting modelling to offer a range of pricing and forecasting capabilities to sportsbook clients. Angstrom primarily serves US sports.
It is unclear if MGM will make another bid to acquire Entain after walking away from an $11bn offer in January 2021, when the company claimed it “significantly undervalued” its business and prospects.
Earlier this year, reports that MGM was preparing a new bid for Entain were quickly dismissed.
In February, Hornbuckle told gaming analysts that the company would be refocusing its efforts from acquiring Entain. He said part of the decision was based on MGM's confidence in its acquisition of LeoVegas.
BetMGM reported positive EBITDA for the second quarter and was on track for second-half 2023 profitability. CEO Adam Greenblatt said BetMGM expects to deliver $1.8bn to $2bn in full-year revenue from North America.
MGM and Entain have committed $150m for 2023 into their joint venture, split between both companies.
Additional reporting by Chris Sieroty.