How Will MGM Bid For LeoVegas Impact NJ Online Casino Plans?

Written By Bill Gelman on May 4, 2022

If you are wondering when LeoVegas Casino will launch in New Jersey, the answer is still TBD.

Now there is the wild card of MGM Resorts offering $607 million to buy LeoVegas.

Here in the Garden State, the news is especially intriguing being that LeoVegas has a market access deal with Caesars Entertainment.

In the May 2021 story that appeared on Play NJ, LeoVegas was eyeing the first half of 2022 as its NJ online casino launch target.

That leaves this month and June.

Play NJ reached out to LeoVegas for an update, but did not receive a response.

However, with LeoVegas shareholders now pondering this MGM deal, does this mean entering the NJ online casinos market is in a holding pattern?

New Jersey is where US plans start for LeoVegas

When putting together plans or the US online casino market, many companies like LeoVegas start in New Jersey. One of the biggest reasons is because state regulators are known for setting the highest standards. Plus the market is an extremely lucrative one.

However, when it comes to NJ casino apps, LeoVegas isn’t exactly a well-known brand.

At least to Garden State online casino players.

Yes, LeoVegas is a leading global online gaming company. However, they have licenses in eight jurisdictions primarily in the Nordics and rest of Europe. The business is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden with offices in MaltaUnited Kingdom and Milan.

The LeoVegas Rhino platform is considered one of the best out there. According to the press release, the experienced online gaming management team and superior technology capabilities is one of the reasons MGM views this deal as a unique opportunity.

Basically, LeoVegas’ management team has demonstrated the ability to “develop a robust and scalable technology platform with advanced product offerings.”

And when LeoVegas finally does launch (with or without the MGM deal), they will be just the latest European brand to make its way across the Atlantic Ocean. Unibet and Bet365 are a couple of other big names to do the same.

More about the MGM offer to buy LeoVegas

Unlike DraftKings buying Golden Nugget Online Gaming, the MGM-LeoVegas deal remains in its very early stages.

On Monday, MGM made a public tender offer to buy LeoVegas for approximately $607 million financed with existing cash.

As far as why MGM is targeting LeoVegas, MGM Resorts’ CEO & President Bill Hornbuckle said “our vision is to be the world’s premier gaming entertainment company, and this strategic opportunity with LeoVegas will allow us to continue to grow our reach throughout the world.”

“…We believe that this offer creates a compelling opportunity that allows the combined teams of MGM Resorts and LeoVegas to accelerate our global digital gaming growth and fully realize the potential of our omnichannel strategy. We look forward to being able to welcome the LeoVegas team to our MGM Resorts family.”

When it comes to NJ online casino revenue, the MGM-owned Borgata paired with BetMGM brands continue to be a winning hand. For March 2022, the license holder led the market with $41.4 million.

What about that market access deal with Caesars?

Say the MGM deal to buy LeoVegas goes through before 2022 comes to a close. Why would MGM want to give Caesars Entertainment a monthly payment? We’re talking about the two giants of the global gaming industry.

Technically, the Borgata has all five of its allotted skins filled.

However, LeoVegas would likely become part of the BetMGM portfolio so it would be another brand but a company that is already operating here in the Garden State.

Golden Nugget Online Gaming, the online arm of Golden Nugget Atlantic City, is the perfect example. Besides Golden Nugget online casino, there are five other brands under the license. However, FanDuel and Stardust are both part of the Flutter Entertainment portfolio. Stardust is actually a joint venture between Boyd Gaming and FanDuel.

This wouldn’t be the first time an online casino switched from one Atlantic City casino license to another.

Earlier this year, as a result of Gamesys becoming part of Bally’s Corp., Virgin online casino moved from Tropicana AC to Bally’s AC. 

For now, this is all a hypothetical scenario. First, the MGM-LeoVegas deal must be approved and clear any regulatory hurdles. The rest will unfold once LeoVegas online casino makes its NJ debut.

As far as we can tell, those plans aren’t changing.

Photo by AP/John Locher
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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman has been reporting on the NJ gambling market since 2018, right around when the Garden State launched sports betting. Bill transitioned from lead writer for Play NJ and NJ Gambling Sites to his current role as managing editor in 2020. Besides offering in-depth analysis on NJ gambling market trends and news, Bill regularly sits down with Atlantic City casino industry executives to offer readers exclusive interviews and comprehensive coverage. Bill received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ithaca College. He has contributed to other Catena Media sites including The Lines, Legal Sports Report, PlayPennsylvania and PlayCanada.

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