About a week ago, reports emerged that GVC Holdings, the parent company of partypoker, was gunning for an online gaming license in Nevada in order to launch partypoker in the Silver State. On Tuesday, this was confirmed, as GVC announced that it has received its licensing approval in Nevada as well as a “transactional waiver” in New Jersey for Roar Digital, its joint venture with MGM Resorts International.
Roar Digital, originally called MGM GVC Interactive when it was founded in May 2018, was rebranded earlier this year to its present name, a tip of the cap to MGM’s lion logo/mascot. The company’s primary goal is to grow a sports betting product, though the “online gaming” part of the equation is certainly not an afterthought.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) approved GVC’s license earlier in the month by a 2-to-1 vote. Terry Johnson was the dissenting vote, objecting to GVC’s presence in the state because it owns Ladbrokes, which used to operate in Turkey despite online gambling being prohibited in the country. GVC got rid of its Turkish business to try to get on the good side of regulators. Obviously, that worked just well enough.
The latest hurdle was the approval of the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC), which now allows GVC to enter a two-year probationary period in the state. GVC must also pay $100,000 to cover the NGC’s investigative costs.
GVC CEO Kenneth Alexander said in a press release:
I am delighted the Nevada Gaming Commission has confirmed that GVC meets its stringent regulatory requirements in order to offer betting and gaming products in the state. Coming at the same time as Roar Digital receives a transactional waiver to operate in New Jersey, GVC and our MGM joint venture are hitting important milestones which pave the way for the creation of a market leading US betting and gaming business.
It will be a while before partypoker gets up and running in Nevada, but it will certainly be interesting to see what happens when it does. Nevada was the first state to regulate and legalize online poker and a site called Ultimate Poker was the first to launch in 2013. WSOP.com, running software from 888poker, was next a few months later and easily outpaced its rival. Ultimate Poker closed in November 2014 and WSOP.com has as had a near-monopoly in Nevada ever since.
Nevada is tricky because despite being the world’s gambling hub, it does not have the population necessary for a strong online poker market, hence the single poker room (there is technically another, but it is completely insignificant). Player traffic has increased over the last couple years with an interstate compact with Delaware and New Jersey; WSOP.com players in both Nevada and New Jersey now play on the same tables.
Partypoker has a New Jersey site, though it is a distant third in the Garden State market. GVC will definitely be looking to network it with its upcoming site in Nevada as well as its poker room in Pennsylvania in partnership with Valley Forge casino. Of course, those plans may hinge on what happens with the Wire Act’s enforcement, which is supposed to happen next month.