Posted in:

BetMGM Expands into the UK with LeoVegas 

BetMGM has enjoyed great success in the US gambling market. Now they have launched in the  UK in partnership with LeoVegas. 

They have already opened sites in Canada but now cross the Atlantic for the first time. The  seeds for this expansion began last year when they acquired LeoVegas for $604 million. This  new online casino will be using LeoVegas’ platform and their technology. 

It will be Kambi who will be powering the new UK based sportsbook. They’ve been in  partnership with LeoVegas for the past seven years and two months ago extended their deal. 

Bill Hornbuckle is the MGM Resorts CEO and president and he’s excited about this new  venture. He sees BetMGM as “a proven brand in the sports betting and iGaming space”  Therefore he looks forward to “welcoming international players.” 

The announcement of the deal is in his opinion, “a key step forward in our international growth  strategy.” 

Also delighted with the news is Gary Fritz. He’s the president of MGM Resorts International  Interactive. He’s convinced that the success their online casinos have had in the US and  Canada will also be seen in the UK. He said that “The UK is a mature online gaming market.”  He strongly believes that the BetMGM brand will “provide distinct relevance to both sports  bettors and iGaming consumers.” 

One interesting factor here is that in the US, BetMGM is a 50/50 joint venture between MGM  Resorts and UK company Entain. However, that’s not the case in the UK, so BetMGM will be in  direct competition with the sites that are owned by Entain. They include Coral and Ladbrokes  who are both well-established gambling businesses in the UK. Bwin, Eurobet and Gala are also  part of the Entain business empire. 

It’s a business that MGM Resorts International have previously been interested in acquiring.  Entain rejected any bids from the American company. There had been rumors that MGM might  want to resurrect their interest in buying Entain, said an expert of, an online casinos guide

January 2021 saw the first bid for Entain which would have seen them bought out of its 50%  stake in BetMGM. The offer put a valuation of $11 billion on Entain but this was rejected.  Another offer has not been forthcoming but are they still interested in doing so at some point?

At the MGM Resorts Q4 2022 earnings call held in February of this year, Hornbuckle said the  company had “moved on” from their attempt to buy out Entain. More focus is being put on the  “expansion capabilities” of LeoVegas and now comes this UK launch. They are still “highly  focused” on achieving more success in the US through the partnership they have with Entain.

More work is needed if they are to continue to expand in the US. With this in mind they have  also recently acquired Angstrom Sports. “Our product is not where we want it to be” said  Hornbuckle. With Entain and Angstrom on board, he hopes that they will “get us to a place  where we’ll be back in that game in a meaningful way” and increase their share of the market. 

Can they be successful in the UK though? In the UK there is a highly competitive gambling  market, particularly online. Building a good share of the market is not going to be the easiest  task for them. To try and attract new customers, they will be offering a welcome offer, loyalty  rewards and frequent jackpots. 

When gamblers join an online casino, one of the first sections they usually visit is the  selection of slot games. This new site is promising that there will be slots that can only be  played by visiting their online casino. As far as sports betting is concerned, there will also be  plenty of promotions on offer. 

Is it the right time to be launching in the UK though? The UK Gambling Commission is  becoming increasingly stricter towards those online casinos they have granted licenses to with  millions of pounds in fines issued. BetMGM will need to be aware that regulation of the gambling  industry is stricter in the UK than the US. 

It is likely to become even more stricter after the publication of the UK Government’s White Paper on gambling reform. The proposals included could be bad news with reduced stake limits  imposed on slot and other casino games. If implemented, that would certainly hit profits. 

The same would occur if gambling companies are required to pay a compulsory levy each year.  The funds would be used to fund research into gambling addiction and pay for treatment of  those who suffer gambling harm. 

Such proposals aren’t likely to come into force until next year. It will be interesting to see what  share of the UK market this new venture has achieved in the UK.