Entain Receives Full License In Nevada, Potentially Paving the Way for BetMGM Poker to Launch

The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) has granted BetMGM co-owner and technology supplier Entain an unconditional license. Since 2019, the British-based company has held only a limited license in the state. Its most recent three-year license was set to expire this year.

The NGC had hesitated to grant Entain a full license due to several concerns, including its operations in unregulated gray markets. While it acts only as a technology provider in the US, Entain directly operates several consumer sports betting and iGaming brands in other markets.

Receiving a full license means Entain has addressed the regulator’s concerns.

One implication of this is that it slightly increases the chances that BetMGM Poker will launch in Nevada. BetMGM is a joint venture between Entain and MGM Resorts International, which also holds a Nevada interactive gaming license. In principle, BetMGM has been able to launch its poker product at any point since Entain obtained its limited license. There are several likely reasons it has not taken that opportunity yet, but Entain’s uncertain status may have been one of them.

Entain Says It Has Exited Gray Markets

In an NGC meeting on May 16, Entain representatives provided regulatory officials with an update on the company’s progress since its last license renewal in 2021. The company’s Nevada attorney, Erica Okerberg, said Entain has not only addressed the concerns raised in that previous meeting, but has exceeded what was asked of it. Chairman Barry Gibson added that the company has exited all unregulated markets, a goal the company committed to at the beginning of 2023. The only exceptions it has made are for markets that are in the midst of establishing their regulatory frameworks, which it intends to operate within.

Abandoning unregulated activities has cost Entain $100 million in profits, Gibson said. He told the NGC that 95% of the company’s revenue now comes from regulated markets.  The chairman also presented some of the changes within the company, including leadership changes and progress on responsible gaming.

Entain interim CEO Stella Davis emphasized employee compliance training. Davis took over in December for departing CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen. Davis said that 95% of employees completed the training last year.

NGC members praised Entain for its progress and commitment to compliance. That included commitments tied to the company’s deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), a prosecution agency. Under the DPA, Entain agreed to pay the equivalent of $783 million for offenses tied to its business in Turkey between 2011 and 2017.

Could License Help BetMGM Poker Launch In NV?

Entail’s unconditional license could be good news for Nevada poker fans. Currently, the state is home to only one online poker operator, the Caesars-owned WSOP.

For many years, WSOP was the only multi-state poker network in the US, until PokerStars linked its sites in Michigan and New Jersey.

BetMGM Poker currently operates standalone sites in Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. However, it continues to defer a Nevada launch despite holding the necessary licenses. Failing to launch has meant MGM has had to renew its interactive license repeatedly, assuring the regulator each time that it still intends to bring its product to market eventually.

BetMGM is really the state’s only hope for a second site unless a new product comes to the US. The NGC and the Nevada Gaming Control Board are known for their strictness with online operators. PokerStars is unlikely ever to receive a license in the state due to its unregulated activities between 2006 and 2011.

Entain’s permanent license isn’t the only clue that a Nevada launch could be coming for BetMGM Poker. In December, the company told investors that multi-state shared liquidity was imminent. Nevada, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, and—most recently—West Virginia are parties to the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA).

WSOP shares the Nevada poker traffic with New Jersey. Meanwhile, Pokerstars players in Michigan can play with those in New Jersey. BetMGM could also start with Michigan and New Jersey, but the fact that it hasn’t done so yet suggests it is waiting for something else. Launching with a bigger network, including Nevada and possibly West Virginia, could provide BetMGM with a leg up over its competitors’ two-state networks.

About the Author

Chav Vasilev

Chav Vasilev

After years of managing fast-casual restaurants, Chav turned his passion for sports and occasional slot wins into a career as an iGaming writer. Sharing his time between Europe and the US, he has been exposed to betting and gambling for years and has closely followed the growth in the US. Chav is a proponent of playing responsibly and playing only at legal online sites. When not writing, you will find him watching and betting on sports, especially soccer, or trying to land the next big bonus on a slot.
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