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Entain granted unconditional licence to operate in Nevada

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Entain, the London-listed operator, has gained unconditional approval to operate in the state of Nevada. The company currently operates in the US as BetMGM, in a joint venture with MGM Resorts.

The licence for Entain was approved unanimously by the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) on 1 May. The licence was then issued on Thursday 16 May in a second hearing with presentations from Entain’s senior leadership.

This included company chairman, Barry Gibson, interim CEO Stella David and general counsel Simon Zinger.

Nevada is considered one of the US’ most lucrative states for operators. Gambling revenue for 2023 hit an all-time high of $15.52bn, surpassing the previous annual record by 4.6%.

Full licensing approval from Nevada Gaming Commission

Entain, which has a joint partnership with MGM Resorts under the BetMGM brand, previously operated under a two-year licence and, more recently, a three-year licence that expired this month.

Its temporary licences reflected concerns from the NGC in regards to its operations in unregulated markets. This, the NGC, believes is now in the past.

“The company has taken great strides not only to move past some of the historical issues, but to accept responsibility for them and find ways to learn and grow,” said Entain attorney Erica Okerberg.

Entain was first granted its two-year licence in 2019. This was while Entain was still GVC, under its previous leadership. BetMGM initially went live in Nevada in March 2020. Entain was then granted a three-year licence in 2021. The company is now registered with the NGC as a publicly traded corporation without limitation to operate.

During the hearing in May 2024, Entain highlighted its withdrawal from unregulated markets around the world. This totals 140 markets where it previously operated.

“That came at a big price. We lost $100 million in profit by pulling out, but you can’t judge profit against doing the right thing,” Gibson commented.

“My board colleagues supported the proposal. If we’re going to say we have to do the right thing, we have to do the right thing. That meant exiting profitable markets and we’ve done that.”

During its presentation to the NGC, Gibson highlighted that 95% of the group’s operating revenue now comes from regulated markets.

“This is a casebook study on how to put on governance and compliance and ethics issues,” Commissioner Brian Krolicki said during the hearing. “It’s really impressive. I know the opportunities lost are significant.”

Where does Entain operate in the US?

Entain currently operates in the US as BetMGM, a joint venture between Entain and MGM Resorts. The joint-venture began in July 2018. The company generated close to $2.00bn (£1.59bn/€1.86bn) in revenue in 2023. In total, BetMGM is now active in 28 states across the United States.

New launches in 2023 included Ohio, Massachusetts and Kentucky, all of which were online and retail, while it also rolled out online in Puerto Rico. 

Its Q1 2024 figures issued in April 2024, further highlighted its growth. Net gaming revenue in Q1 increased 2%, while the group also reported “strong” growth in customer acquisition, helped by successful Super Bowl and March Madness engagement. It also noted the impact of improving app and product capabilities.

Looking ahead, Entain that said an improved player experience means BetMGM is well positioned to invest for future growth.

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