With legalized online poker legislation looming on the horizon, more gaming companies are making plans to secure their place in the potentially re-opened U.S. market. A recent announcement states that MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming and Bwin.Party digital entertainment have joined together in anticipation of legalized online poker. This partnership is reported to have been in the making for nearly 18 months. Finally an agreement was reached where they would jointly run online gaming operations in the event that it is legalized in the United States. Bwin.Party will hold the majority, with 65% ownership, while MGM will hold 25% and Boyd 10%.
This partnership could be a potent one, as these companies are some of largest in the gaming market. Bwin.Party is currently the largest publicly traded online gambling company, despite being shut out of the US market for over 5 years now. They have the second largest online poker room in the world and also own the World Poker Tour. MGM Resorts has extensive holdings, including 10 resort/casinos on the Las Vegas strip, and others across the United States and in Macau. Boyd Gaming runs 16 different casino properties across the United States.
Bwin.Party was very quick to exit the American online poker market when the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed back in 2006. Many questioned their move, while other sites, such as Pokerstars and Fulltilt Poker, kept their doors open to Americans. However, by complying with the law, they managed to completely avoid the fallout of Black Friday. Since then, there has been speculation that Bwin.Party might have the best chance at again servicing the American online gaming market, should legislation pass that would legalize it.
Under this partnership, both MGM and Boyd would be able to run their own poker sites through Bwin.Party’s technology and software. MGM had previously run its own internet gambling operation, but it ceased in 2003, citing “regulatory uncertainties.” Depending on online gaming legislation specifics, their sites may or may not be part of the Party Poker network player pool.