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Inside Gaming: MGM Resorts, GVC Holdings Partner for New NJ Online Brand

MGM Resorts International, GVC Holdings, Borgata
  • MGM Resorts International & GVC Holdings will provide online casino games & poker as playMGM.

  • The Galaxy Entertainment Group enjoys 1Q increase amid ongoing rebound of gaming in Macau.

In this week's installment of Inside Gaming, a new partnership is announced that will result in MGM lending its name to a new online casino brand in New Jersey, the Galaxy Entertainment Group's healthy first quarter signals the Macau rebound is continuing, and the green light is given to a new casino-resort in Cebu in the Philippines.

New MGM-Branded Online Casino and Poker Coming to New Jersey

On Wednesday MGM Resorts International and the sports betting and gaming group GVC Holdings announced a new agreement to launch online casino and poker games in New Jersey. The new games will appear under the playMGM brand, as explained in a press release describing the agreement.

GVC Holdings has provided software and support for the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City ever since online gaming was first passed into law by the state in late 2013. MGM had been a partial owner of the Borgata until June 2016 when it acquired the remaining 50 percent of the Borgata then owned by Boyd Gaming for a reported $600 million.

That deal was completed a couple of months later, with MGM Resorts International then selling the Borgata to MGM Growth Properties with the latter subsequently leasing the Borgata back to MGM Resorts.

The "announcement marks a strengthening of the relationship between the companies and the first time that real-money online casino and poker will be offered under MGM's iconic brand," explains the release.

No firm date for the launch was given, only that the games will go live "later this year." Nor were specific games identified, although the release does reference "GVC's proprietary technology stack, which offers desktop and mobile variants, over 300 casino games (including progressive jackpot slots) and multiple variants of tournament and cash play poker."

Those who play the new playMGM games will be eligible to participate in MGM Resorts' M life Rewards program which will be integrated into the platform.

Alluding to MGM stepping into the online gaming arena with its brand for the first time, Corey Sanders, MGM Resorts COO, referred to the agreement as marking "a historic moment for MGM resorts" and how the company is "excited about the possibilities of extending [its] partnership [with GVC] as regulated markets open up in the U.S."

It was only last month the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement reported record-setting totals for online casino revenue in New Jersey, with the $21 million-plus collectively earned by the state's operators exceeding the previous best month by over $2 million.

The Borgata had assumed the greatest market share of New Jersey online gaming up until recently when the Golden Nugget moved ahead of the Borgata. The new playMGM games will resemble the Borgata's current offerings, but with the new branding and M life Rewards program integration.

Galaxy Entertainment Group Enjoys 1Q Increase as Macau Rebounds

Further evidence of a gradual rebound for Macau gaming came this week with a positive first-quarter revenue report from the Hong Kong-based Galaxy Entertainment Group, operators of numerous hotels and casinos in Macau.

According to GGRAsia, Galaxy reported revenue of HK$14.1 billion (about $1.81 billion USD) for the first quarter of the year, an increase of 5.2 percent from the same period one year ago.

Galaxy also posted a 31 percent increase in adjusted EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) for the first quarter of 2017. Galaxy's adjusted EBITDA was HK$3.2billion (about $411.2 million USD), much better than the HK$2.4billion earned during January-March 2016.

In an accompanying statement, Galaxy chairman and founder Lui Che Woo noted how the company's "financial results continued to show positive momentum over the fourth quarter of 2016," and that the company intends "to drive each and every segment of our business with a particular focus on yielding our resorts and delivering profitable volumes."

The Group's Galaxy Macau casino was up 5 percent in revenue itself (and 27 percent EBITDA) for the quarter year-over-year, its StarWorld Macau was up 6 percent in revenue, while its smaller Broadway Macau (with no VIP program) was down just over 25 percent.

Further growth opportunities being highlighted currently by Galaxy Entertainment include Phase 3 and 4 development of Galaxy Macau as well as further attempts "to explore opportunities in overseas markets, including Japan, where an enabling bill to legalise casino business was passed by lawmakers in December."

The report comes as the gaming revenue rebound for Macau continues, with the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau having just this week reported a ninth-straight month of increases in Monthly Gross Revenue from Games of Fortune. Macau casinos were up 16.3 percent in April, year-over-year.

Udenna to Build $300M Casino-Resort in Cebu

Finally, staying in Asia, the casino developer Udenna Corp yesterday announced it had been given the go-ahead to pursue its plan to build a $300 million casino-resort in Cebu, the first of its kind in Philippines outside of Manila reports ABSCBN News.

"The Southeast Asian nation's gaming regulator is inviting investors to build casino-resorts outside the capital to accelerate growth in the gambling and tourism sectors despite a crackdown by China, a big source of high rollers, on wealthy punters," explains ABSCBN.

"We see this integrated development taking a major role in bringing the Philippines on par with the region's premier destinations for leisure, gaming and meetings as well as for commercial and residential investments," said Udenna President Dennis Uy.

Udenna said it planned to move ahead with construction of the development, to be called Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan, within three months on a nearly 30-acre beachfront property located less than four miles from an international airport, with a target opening of 2019.

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