BetMGM became the first American online gambling brand to expand its operations to Europe with the launch of BetMGM UK. On Aug. 17, Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International announced the site’s debut in the United Kingdom. The mobile app will launch in mid-September, to be accompanied by a UK media blitz.
Meanwhile, the reverse – European online gambling brands coming to the US – has been true for years. That trend magnified in 2018 when the legal online sports betting boom attracted established and nascent overseas brands to America. Online casino brands joined in, as well. A few such apps are 888, Bet365, and Unibet.
During that time, BetMGM took over the dominant market position in US online casino gambling. Its top competitors were Boston-based DraftKings (DraftKings 28,71 -4,55%), which seemingly had no European ambitions. Then FanDuel, which was primarily owned by Dublin-headquartered Flutter Entertainment (Flutter Entertainment 25,25 -0,04%).
Jersey City, NJ-based BetMGM had the advantage in America of being co-owned by one of the most recognized retail casino brands.
The BetMGM Brand
In the US, BetMGM is a joint venture between MGM (MGM Resorts International 37,03 -4,49%) and Entain (Entain PLC 1.089,00 -1,85%). In the UK, BetMGM is operated by LeoVegas Gaming, a Stockholm-headquartered online gambling operator MGM acquired for $604 million last year.
MGM relies heavily on its land-based casinos for brand awareness. However, there aren’t any in the UK.
Meanwhile, the MGM site lists 14 Las Vegas resorts and seven facilities elsewhere in the US. That helped it gain market share immediately because it could contact its land-based casino gamblers and tell them about the new opportunity. For instance, the existence of the MGM Grand Detroit helped BetMGM Casino start as and remain the No. 1 online casino in Michigan.
However, that wasn’t the end of the story. BetMGM arguably ventured beyond American shores first in 2021, with the first recorded sports bet from space – on the Philadelphia Eagles. Then in 2022, BetMGM partnered with Carnival Corporation to bring online casino and sports betting to US-branded ships so passengers could bet while they were in international waters.
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Prior to the current wave of legal US online casinos:
- MGM ventured into UK online gambling with a 25% share of playmgmmirage.com. The site launched in 2004 and shut down two years later. Typing that URL into a Chrome browser yielded the MGM site today.
- Staunch anti-online-gambling activist Sheldon Adelson, who owned the Las Vegas Sands from 1998 until his death in 2021, was at the helm when his company worked on launching an iGaming brand in 2006 in the UK.
BetMGM UK Isn’t the First US Brand in Another Country
Chicago-headquartered Rush Street Interactive (RSI) may have been the first American online gambling operator to emigrate.
In 2020, RSI (Rush Street Interactive 4,72 -1,46%) launched in Colombia as RushBet. Last year that online casino and sportsbook debuted in Mexico.
RSI’s best-known American iGaming brand is BetRivers.
Of course, many US iGaming brands entered Ontario when its marketplace launched on April 4, 2022.
As for the inverse, Mexico-based Caliente Interactive‘s joint venture with Isle of Man-headquartered Playtech (Playtech PLC 487,00 -2,37%) joined the Illinois sports betting roster in 2022. CaliPlay hasn’t turned out to be a considerable brand there, though.
MGM’s Brand Awareness Efforts for BetMGM UK
Yesterday’s MGM announcement about BetMGM UK provides a link to the desktop and mobile website.
The BetMGM UK site reveals what MGM leaders may be thinking about the brand awareness play there, and it’s surprisingly US-focused.
For instance, part of MGM’s attraction to LeoVegas may have been the similar logos. LeoVegas also had a lion’s head logo, as BetMGM and MGM do. So that aspect of brand awareness may be easier to manage.
The site also immediately mentions 10 of MGM’s Las Vegas casinos. The logos of each retail casino are clickable and land on the room reservation pages.
BetMGM also changed its logo presentation for the new market. The most obvious differences are that the text is italicized and split vertically for the UK logo. Light and dark were also swapped for the lion image, and the gold color is slightly darker in the UK.