Entain gains Nevada approval for BetMGM poker launch plans

A UK gaming company took a major step toward making BetMGM Poker NV’s initiative a real success. Last week, the firm asked Nevada regulators to advocate licensing its party poker software, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) unanimously obliged.

Now, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) will decide whether to grant the license at a May 16 meeting. BetMGM is a pact between MGM Resorts International and Entain’s US subsidiary Bwin. Party, with both companies holding 50% stakes.

For years, there have been rumors about Entain and MGM partnering on a Nevada-based internet poker website regulated by Entain’s partypoker software to go head-to-head with the existing WSOP NV site. This move suggests that such a venture may be closer than ever.

It should be noted that both Entain and MGM require licensing certification from the interactive vendors of BetMGM Poker NV to get off the ground. Taking for granted that Entain receives approval from the NGC next month, there would be no regulatory barriers preventing the joint venture partners from moving forward.

Nevertheless, several steps are left before BetMGM Poker NV can go live even after this latest development. MGM officials have asked regulative authorities to shift their focus to the card game of poker after completing several smaller sports betting initiatives that are currently in progress.

Entain’s lawyer, Simon Zinger, asked Nevada regulatory authorities that the organization currently has no intention of using the license immediately, adding: “I think it could be or may be offered in Nevada is way off in our thinking it’s not being thought about at present.”

Entain was granted a license for a short term of two years in 2019, which was extended for three years earlier this year. In contrast, MGM obtained its initial synergistic gaming license for BetMGM in November 2012.

The meeting also gave Entain an opportunity to address concerns arising from last November’s £585m ($729m) sanction, which the company concurred to pay as part of a postponed pursuance pact with UK prosecuting attorneys over so-called palm-greasing illicit activity done by Entain’s former Turkish subsidiary.

Entain interim CEO Stella David and board chairman Barry Gibson made their way to the Las Vegas meeting via Airways. During the meeting, lawyers and administrators spent over an hour reassuring regulators that the company’s culture had turned around and any misdeeds were in the rear-view mirror. 

As NGCB member Hendrick put it: “The payments on the DPA, without a doubt, were eye-opening, to say the least, in terms of what a fine could be.” He asked Entain’s counsel to enlighten how Turkey’s concern might manifest badly in Nevada.

So, there’s still plenty of work to be done before BetMGM Poker NV can launch, given regulatory scrutiny and ongoing project prioritization. But there is also growing excitement for what Entain and MGM might have up their sleeves for Nevada poker players.

Joseph Watkins is an avid gambler and also contributes the in-depth & most recent Las Vegas casino news stories. He joins as a news-editor recently with almost two years of experience in sports news writing.

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