Two major land-based casino brands have announced a joint venture with online poker company Bwin.Party, mostly known for their Party Poker brand, to position themselves at the head of the market should online poker be legalised in the United States.
MGM Resorts International – who own part or all of 18 casinos in Nevada, Mississippi, Michigan and Illinois – and the Boyd Gaming Corporation, with 17 casinos in Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, and Louisiana, intend to form a new company with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment PLC, which will enable the two casino giants to offer online poker to US clients under their own skins on a new Bwin.Party poker network.
A Sign of Momentum
The news is being interpreted that things are at last starting to get a move on in Capitol Hill, where the nation´s lawmakers have been slow to see the potential that online poker holds for the US economy. With land-based casinos most likely to be awarded the first options to establish online poker sites in the US, and many European online poker providers keen to tap into the most lucrative market in the world when legislation is passed, this joint venture enables all three parties in this venture to hit the ground running when they are given the green light.
The Return of the “Big Three”
Prior to UIEGA in 2006, Party Poker was the dominant force in online poker in the US, with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker lagging some way behind in second and third. Bwin.Party´s Co-Chief Executive Office, Jim Ryan has already admitted that Bwin.Party aim to be the Nº1 online poker site in the USA and, with this strategic alliance, the company is taking the first steps to achieve this. However, other joint ventures were announced earlier in the year between Caesar´s Casinos, the WSOP and 888 Poker, and also between Wynn´s Casinos and PokerStars – so Bwin.Party will face massive competition against more recently established US brands if they are to achieve their aim.
Murren´s Faux Pas in Attack on Unregulated Sites
Commenting on the announcement, Jim Murren – the CEO of MGM Resorts International – used the opportunity to criticise those companies still offering online poker for US players. “We know there are millions of U.S. citizens risking billions of dollars at unregulated, illegal sites and there is no way to enforce good behaviour, and that has to change.” Unfortunately, he displayed his ignorance of the law (playing online poker in the States is not illegal – it is the way in which player funds are transferred in and out of their accounts which breaks the law). Hopefully Bwin.Party´s CEO Jim Ryan will have a word in his ear before the new partnership starts operating!
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