Well after that day in the not-so-distant future when Massachusetts is expected to legalize sports betting, Jim Murren sees MGM’s mobile betting platform, BetMGM, standing alongside DraftKings and only a few other survivors in the currently crowded US sports betting landscape.
“I think at the end of the day, if you play the long game, which we are at MGM, 10 years from now, maybe only five years from now, this will be a very big business in the United States,” said Murren, the head of MGM Resorts International.
“There will be a half-dozen players that will be the dominant players over the next five years. MGM is going to be one of those — with our joint venture with GVC, they’re a massive company out of the UK — and I think DraftKings will be one of them as well. And I think there will be a lot of companies that will start strong and kind of flame out.”
MGM Resorts has a business relationship with DraftKings, said Murren. And as much as he would love to have the type of relationship with sports betting customers that a daily fantasy company like DraftKings has, he promotes his company’s platform as quite different.
“We can provide you, based on your relationship with us, rooms at the Bellagio [in Las Vegas], concert tickets to see Bruno Mars and to see Lady Gaga backstage and to go to National Harbor during the cherry blossom festival,” said Murren. “It’s an endless amount of rewards and opportunities that we have by virtue of our resorts that a DFS [daily fantasy sports] company just does not have.”
Murren believes that emphasizing the overall entertainment experience — mixing sports with music, theater, and food rather than having a one-and-done sports event — will translate into being an industry leader.
“I don’t view sports betting like our competitors do,” he said. “Our competitors take a map of the United States, they kind of game-theory when each state will approve sports betting and in what form — ‘Is it going to be bricks-and-mortar or mobile or both?’ — and then they try and predict what market share they’ll have within that state. And then they’ll come with their financial model from there.
“I look at sports betting as simply an introduction to developing a digital relationship with the consumer. Sports fans are also generally fans of other entertainment like concerts, they also like good food, they have many similar characteristics.
“And if we can develop a relationship with the consumer that’s more holistic and less episodic than we do right now, then we’re building a better entertainment platform for MGM.”
Chris Grove, a gambling industry analyst at Eilers & Krejcik, said MGM Resorts’s path is promising but not proprietary.
“MGM certainly has some unique assets, but it’s not as if they’re the only entity involved with sports betting that can offer experiences as a way to attract and retain customers,” said Grove. “I’d rather have the assets than not, and it is a competitive advantage, but it’s one that a motivated operator can match even if they don’t operate a chain of casinos.”
Murren said the Massachusetts legislature “has been very deliberate” during its year-plus study of the handful of sports betting bills that have been filed, and he believes eventual passage of one will lift the fortunes of both Massachusetts casinos.
“I’m sure there will be a good outcome,” said Murren.
In a related note, Claire Murdoch, the head of mental services in England, wrote a letter to five leading gambling companies, including GVC, asking them to ban VIP rewards.
“I am concerned that offering people who are losing vast sums of money . . . free tickets, VIP experiences and free bets, all proactively prompt people back into the vicious gambling cycle which many want to escape,” said Murdoch, according to BBC News.
Murren announced this week that MGM Resorts would become the official gaming partner of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, who begin play next season at the brand-new Allegiant Field, near MGM’s Mandalay Bay casino . . . TD Garden and Venuetize announced their “TD Garden Hub,” which allows TD Garden patrons a chance to use the app as a mobile wallet for ticketing and advance parking, with later iterations to include in-seat food delivery . . . In advance of the NBA’s first-ever game in Paris Friday, the league announced a partnership with luxury goods purveyor Louis Vuitton, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
If you build it . . .
The Washington Post reported that Redskins owner Dan Snyder lobbied the Maryland State House with the hope of obtaining a sports book license for the club’s new stadium. Snyder is hopeful of building a new stadium in Maryland, Virginia, or D.C. Should Snyder get his wish, it naturally would lead to speculation about the Orioles and Ravens, who also play in Maryland, applying for licenses to allow bets at their stadiums . . . Christian Pulisic, the US men’s soccer team’s latest greatest hope, just became the first international ambassador for Chipotle Mexican Grill, according to Forbes. Pulisic plays for Chelsea in the Premier League but has missed most of this month with an injury . . . Alex Rodriguez is now a co-owner and chairman of the Dominican Republic’s Presidente beer.