BetMGM Expands $1M Poker Championship Qualifying to Online Players in Ontario, Canada

After recently announcing the BetMGM Poker Championship this in Las Vegas, on Thursday the company expanded online qualifying opportunities Ontario.

After recently announcing the new BetMGM Poker Championship this summer in Las Vegas, on Thursday expanded qualifying opportunities to online poker players in Ontario.

The $3,500 championship is set for June 23-26 as part of the Aria Poker Classic and comes with a $1 million guarantee. Players in Ontario can now qualify for the event beginning this weekend. Qualifiers and satellites will run on a rolling basis and BetMGM is awarding six complete tournament packages.

“The first-ever BetMGM Poker Championship descends on Las Vegas during one of the most exciting times of the poker season,” BetMGM director of poker Luke Staudenmaier said in a news release.

“Aria is a legendary poker brand and we’re thrilled that the championship has become an integral part of this year’s Poker Classic. Through our relationship with MGM Resorts and its world-class US properties, we’ll continue to leverage event programming and connect with players both online and in their favorite poker rooms.”

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Qualifying via BetMGM

Ontario is the fourth online poker market for BetMGM, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in the US. The province began regulating the market this year, creating a ringed-in environment as seen in the US.

BetMGM also shares player pools with partypoker in Ontario, but players only compete against others within the province.

The platform is operated by Roar Digital, owned by MGM Resorts and Entain (owner of the international partypoker brand). Roar officials are now planning more utilization of MGM’s popular casino resorts and poker rooms in coordination with the online product.

Ontario players looking to grab a seat in the BetMGM Poker Championship now have several opportunities. There are numerous satellites running with two qualifiers planned for three upcoming Sundays: May 29, June 5 and 12. Winners receive a prize package that include:

  • tournament buy-in
  • travel expenses
  • five-night stay at Aria

More on tap for Vegas satellite winners

In the US, online poker is legal on a state-by-state basis and BetMGM has become one of the country’s major operators. The brand is a skin of the partypoker US Network, along with Borgata Poker. All three skins share player pools in each state as BetMGM and party do in Ontario.

Winners can expect a fun few days of action in Las Vegas. Beyond the championship, the company is promising sportsbook watching parties and other activities.

A $600 BetMGM Poker Mystery Bounty is also planned for June 25. This is the first time Aria has run this popular version of a traditional bounty tournament.

The BetMGM Poker Championship is the second opportunity for online players to qualify online for a live event at an MGM property. In the US, players in the March Poker Mania series could also qualify for a tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

Those efforts now expand to Canadian players in Ontario. Four-time World Poker Tour champion and BetMGM ambassador Darren Elias is excited to see expansion of online- and live event cross-promotions.

“BetMGM is particularly well-equipped to offer these sorts of events as our online platforms can qualify players to events at any of our MGM properties,” he recently told USPoker. “Whether that be Aria and Bellagio in Las Vegas or Borgata and MGM National Harbor on the East Coast, players can expect to play at some of the premier poker destinations in the country.

“This recent Borgata event we ran and the upcoming BetMGM Aria event should only be the beginning. I’m expecting to see more integration between the live and online arenas and even larger events in the future.”

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BetMGM Plants Flag in Ontario as First Regulated Online Poker Operator Under New Rules

Ontario regulators have approved for PokerStars to operate and the platform officially went live in the Canadian province on Tuesday.

After recent regulatory changes, BetMGM became the first online poker platform to launch in the Canadian province of Ontario on Wednesday.

Ontario, home to major cities like Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton, has shifted away from a “grey” market to a regulated environment. That’s had online gaming companies lining up to get in the action in the province.

MGM now becomes the first new operator in the province with a platform for the new regulated environment (and not previously available in the “grey” market). More operators are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

“BetMGM Poker brings an agile, diverse, and player-centric platform to Canadian players,” BetMGM director of poker Luke Staudenmaier said in a news release. “Through high-visibility partnerships, the brand will also connect players with world-class omni-channel experiences and poker legends, like brand ambassador Darren Elias.

“We look forward to building our community in Ontario, welcoming players to our tables, and providing safe, accessible, and entertaining options.”

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BetMGM becomes first in regulated Ontario

Ontario becomes the fourth market for BetMGM, which is a skin of the Partypoker US Network. In the US, the company operates in:

The company also operates the Borgata Poker skin as well in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Like in the US states, the Ontario market will function as a “ringed-in” market.

That has players competing only against others within Ontario. The move means players will transition from the grey market to a more regulated environment. Ontario offers a nice market for online poker with almost 14.6 million people.

There is potential to share liquidity with other provinces eventually as Quebec, British Columbia, and Manitoba all host officially government-sanctioned sites. Those in Quebec and British Columbia currently operate a shared network and liquidity.

For BetMGM, adding poker in Ontario brings a full betting experience to the province. The company launched online sportsbook and casino operations on April 4.

Growing the brand

Not only does Ontario present a fourth market for the company, but MGM’s first outside the US. The company is part of ROAR Digital, a partnership between MGM and Entain, owner of the international partypoker brand.

 BetMGM poker offers players a number of poker variants, signature poker tournaments, and cash games of all buy-in levels. The platform also operates the Fast Forward quick-play poker option and also features the Grind Rewards program.

In the US, the operator has ramped its tournament offerings in recent months. The company has run synchronized tournament series in each of the three legal US states. The site has also given each series a more distinct name than previously seen with monthly online festivals.

“We want to make our players … excited about the game of poker and we’ve found that variety in our month-to-month offers helps to pique their interest,” Staudenmaier told USPoker recently. “We want our players to recognize us as thoughtful and innovative, just like players themselves when making decisions at the table.”

The company also regularly partners with the Borgata casino, MGM property, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The casino’s poker room is one of the most popular poker rooms in the Northeast and offers partypoker/BetMGM some synergy in marketing online and live events.

While exact details aren’t yet known, poker players can probably expect similar tournament series and promotions as seen in the US. To celebrate the launch in Ontario, BetMGM is hosting daily Welcome Freeroll tournaments through April 30.

The BetMGM Poker apps are accessible in Canada on both Apple iOS and Android, as well as via desktop and laptop computers.

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MGM And GVC Partner For “Once In A Lifetime” Market Opportunity


MGM and GVC have announced a new joint venture to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the expansion of state regulated online sports betting in the US. Poker comes along with the deal.

The news of the agreement broke over the weekend, and on Monday, July 30, MGM and GVC released more details about the partnership and its ambitions.

The new business will be a 50/50 joint venture with each company contributing assets on an exclusive basis. The business will primarily use the playMGM and PartyPoker brands and extend for a period of 25 years.

Each company will seed the business with $100 million of capital as the basis for their activities in US sports betting and interactive gaming.

There will be a four person board of directors with equal “governance and decision making rights, and an independent leadership team will be selected “from best-in-class talent from each company and additional new hires.”

The new business will locate in an as yet to be decided “major U.S. technology hub.”

Joint venture deal highlights

The deal presentation sets out the joint venture highlights as:

  • Opportunity to leverage each company’s unique and complementary assets to capture a once-in-a-lifetime new market opportunity
  • Creates a leading platform with world class content, state-of-the-art proprietary technology, and broad reach and distribution
  • Significantly increases speed to market for both parties and creates meaningful early mover advantages
  • Lowers execution risk due to strong existing relationship, complementary capabilities, and both companies’ track records of successful partnerships
  • Complete alignment of interests with a 50/50 joint venture structure
    Ample liquidity with total upfront capital commitments from partners of $200 million

MGM’s new deal with Boyd Gaming is part of the venture

Monday morning also saw the announcement of a deal between MGM and Boyd Gaming.

Under the deal with Boyd, MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming will each have the opportunity to offer “online and mobile gaming platforms – including sports betting, casino gaming and poker – in jurisdictions where either Boyd Gaming or MGM Resorts operate physical casino resorts and online licenses are available.”

MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren commented:

“We are excited to team yet again with Boyd Gaming on this unprecedented partnership, which allows us to fully engage with the almost 30 million M life Rewards members throughout the country.”

Gaming President and CEO Keith Smith chipped in with:

“Thanks to our partnership with MGM Resorts, Boyd Gaming will have the opportunity to potentially add an online presence in five additional states, positioning us for significant future growth as our respective companies take a leadership role in our industry’s evolution.”

The Boyd MGM deal PR did not mention the separate deal with GVC, but tucked in the joint venture presentation slides, one of the assets that MGM lists that it is bringing to the deal is its agreement with Boyd Gaming.

Boyd AND MGM get GVC into 15 state markets

MGM on its own may be the largest US casino operator, but it is only present in Nevada, Michigan, Maryland, Mississippi and New Jersey with two more casinos opening in New York and Massachusetts.

The deal with Boyd expands the list of states where the joint venture will partner to 15:

  • Nevada (MGM & Boyd)
  • Maryland (MGM)
  • Massachusetts (MGM – upon opening of MGM Springfield)
  • Michigan (MGM)
  • Mississippi (MGM & Boyd)
  • New York (MGM – pending closure of Empire City purchase)
  • Illinois (Boyd – MGM pending sale of Grand Victoria)
  • Indiana (Boyd)
  • Iowa (Boyd)
  • Kansas (Boyd)
  • Louisiana (Boyd)
  • Pennsylvania (Boyd – pending closure of purchase of Valley Forge)
  • Ohio (Boyd – pending closure of purchase from Pinnacle)
  • Missouri (Boyd – pending closure of purchase from Pinnacle)
  • New Jersey – (MGM)

New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania already have state regulated online gambling, including poker.

Mississippi will soon have state regulated sports betting, at least at land-based casinos, and New York has semi-legalized sports betting which means it’s allowed at the four licensed commercial casinos.

New York isn’t likely to get to it this year, mid-term elections have disrupted the legislative timetable, but it is still one of the states most likely to legalize online poker.

The deal adds impetus to lobbying for online poker

Putting all of this together makes for a heady mix of ambition and capability that MGM, GVC and Boyd are bringing to the US online gaming space.

As more states find that sports betting generates valuable tax revenues for their cash-strapped budgets, the idea that sports betting is legal but online poker is not may begin to seem even more anomalous.

Online poker’s re-emergence as a legal state regulated pastime in the US has taken a long time, and there’s a long way to go before it will be as ubiquitous as it once was.

The deal that MGM and GVC have put together is a very bright spot for the future of legal US online gambling. As more land based casinos get into the online space, the lobbying pressure to allow online poker will only get stronger.