A full launch will follow on Friday, December 4. This full launch will include an official announcement, round-the-clock operation and quite likely some additional games.
BetMGM Casino is operated by Roar Digital, a joint venture between GVC Holdings (soon changing its name to Entain) and MGM Resorts International. Representatives of these companies have so far remained quiet about the news, deferring comment until the site leaves the testing phase.
A market known for delays
Pennsylvania’s iGaming market officially went live last July. It was far from a synchronized launch, however, with only three casinos able to start taking bets in the first week. The next competitors – Unibet and PokerStars/Fox Bet – arrived in November. Since then, new sites have been trickling in on a slow but steady basis.
That gradual rollout, combined with organic growth and US casinos closing in March, has led to rapid and sustained growth. In October, PA online casinos managed to exceed $2.1 billion bets received, almost equally split between table games and slots.
For an operator of its stature, BetMGM’s launch comes extremely late, more than 16 months after the market opened. In large part, this has to do with its initial decision to partner with New Jersey’s Borgata casino — owned by MGM Resorts — rather than a local property. Borgata, along with Golden Nugget, has obtained what the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) calls a “qualified gaming entity (QGE)” certificate. These were made available to out-of-state casinos due to the decision by some eligible in-state operators not to purchase a license.
BetMGM recently reversed that decision, though it’s unclear why. Instead of launching on the Borgata’s certificate, it has partnered with Hollywood Casino, owned by Penn National.
Casino only to start, poker probably coming soon
It’s typically the case that operators launch their online casinos and sportsbooks simultaneously, as a single, integrated app. This is the case with BetMGM in New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, however, BetMGM is a stand-alone casino app for the time being, and there’s no guarantee that will change.
One disadvantage faced by QGEs is that they cannot offer sports betting in PA. However, launching on Hollywood’s certificate doesn’t seem to help on this front. Certificate holders can launch up to three iGaming skins apiece. However, only one online sportsbook is allowed per casino, and Hollywood just launched its own in September.
BetMGM can also offer poker, whether on Borgata’s certificate or Penn’s. It hasn’t yet done so, but does have a BetMGM Poker skin operating on the Partypoker NJ network, which is itself owned by GVC. Assuming BetMGM does eventually launch online poker in PA, the arrangement will be similar, and BetMGM is presumably waiting for Partypoker to launch its own site first.
Big things ahead for BetMGM
BetMGM is, by some estimates, the highest-earning individual online casino site in New Jersey. It is, at least, the most important skin on Borgata’s license, which is the second largest in the state in terms of revenue after Golden Nugget’s.
However, until very recently, BetMGM hadn’t ventured out of that one state. In September, it went live as the second online casino in West Virginia after DraftKings. That’s a small market, and revenue numbers published by the WV lottery show BetMGM trailing DraftKings.
Much bigger things are ahead, both in Pennsylvania and in Michigan. Each is bigger in terms of population than New Jersey, and also less densely packed with competitors. In Michigan, in particular, BetMGM is expected to be among the first casinos to launch in MI, and should be able to grab a large share of the market as a result. This could happen within the next two to three weeks, or in January at the latest.