In a video interview with Yogonet, Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM, the joint venture between GVC Holdings and MGM Resorts International, delved into the sports betting and online gaming industries in the U.S., the company's achievements since its creation in 2018, and how BetMGM’s team manages to continue growing and expanding its footprint as it navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We’ve started in an almost 0 base and now, we have over 300 hundred people employed directly, and many hundreds more supporting the business from GVC or MGM Resorts," he explained.
The CEO said BetMGM leaned into the brand identity of MGM Resorts and spent a lot of time Americanizing and enhancing the tech and product with the support of GVC.
"The product we started with is incredibly robust and proven as a leader in worldwide regulated markets," Greenblatt explained. "We tailored it out for US sports prioritization, with football, basketball, baseball, hockey as opposed to the much more soccer-focused centricity and horse racing in international markets."
Since 2018, BetMGM has established strategic and often exclusive partnerships to allow it to reach new players, including an exclusive long-term relationship with Yahoo sports, a deal with retail sports bar operator Buffalo Wild Wings and a strategic partnership with DAZN focused on fighting sports. Greenblatt also mentioned agreements with US sports leagues, teams, and some small media partners focused on "credentializing ourselves as a leading brand and reaching new places."
Greenblatt also delved into the company’s presence in the U.S. "Currently, we are live in 9 states. Our most recent launch was in Tennessee and our performance in these two weeks has been nothing shorter of stellar, absolutely amazing," he said. "The brand is resonating more and more strongly with our players."
The company’s short-term expansion plans include igaming and sports betting launches in Pennsylvania, digital sports betting and igaming in Michigan, and further releases in Iowa and Virginia in January.
"By the end of 2021, you can expect us to be live in more than 20 U.S. states," Greenblatt said. "We are also paying close attention to Canada, as Ontario is in the process of legalizing sports betting."
As regards licensing requirements and regulations in each U.S. state, Greenblatt explained that New Jersey is the template of the broadest range of events and markets allowed, but they are not able to offer everything to every state.
"There is quite a lot of volume and complexity to manage in real-time across all of these states," he said. "As regards KYC rules, for example, if a customer has one letter typo in their address are we allowed to change it? Is the tolerance of 1, 2 or 3 letters? This is the level of granularity that we need to accommodate at scale."
However, when asked about a potential federal regulatory framework for sports betting, the CEO said the state by state ship has sailed. "The state by state rollout is working, is not broken, and the federal government has other priorities," he explained. "Although it would be helpful to have a single policy on KYC and anti-money laundering, it is not necessary to achieve a functioning and vibrant market."
According to Greenblatt, although COVID-19 has been a major challenge, particularly for the retail side of BetMGM’s business, it did help to increase the interest from digital players and when there were no US sports, the focus went to gaming.
"Particularly in New Jersey, we saw a spiking increase and appetite for our igaming products as a leisure alternative, and even since the return of US sports and the opening of physical casinos, growth in that area has continued."
Finally, when asked about next year’s expectations he said BetMGM’s 2021 plans have only accelerated.
"It is all about state rollout, continued development of the product, and building a team to manage the scale and complexity that we talked about in 20+ states," he stated. "With a view to the resurgence of real-world leisure activities, we will see a lot more traffic going through Vegas in 2021, which was always part of our plan, and using that as a hub for giving our BetMGM players a superb branded experience in the land-based environment, ensuring that those players leave Nevada with the app on their phone and continuing that relationship with BetMGM in their home state 365 days a year."