States across the US are slowly embracing online sports betting and iGaming. One significant holdout is, not surprisingly, Nevada. However, after the state suffered catastrophic losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of allowing online casinos started to be floated. It’s a topic that isn’t without controversy, with hundreds of billions of dollars invested in land-based operations. However, the head of one of the largest and most successful casino operators supports the idea.
MGM Resorts Welcomes Nevada iGaming
If it were up to MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle, the Silver State would likely already have a legal online casino market. There has been discussion by gaming regulators in the state about the possibility of expanding its gaming action to the digital realm, but no significant movement has yet been made. According to Hornbuckle, this is bad for the industry. He said in a panel discussion during The Nevada Independent’s IndyFest that Nevada is “missing a significant opportunity for growth” by not exploring iGaming.
Hornbuckle added that iGaming “could be significant not only for the state, but for the industry and nationally, and potentially even on a global basis,” but knows that not everyone would support an online casino launch. Still, he believes that it would open a new world of opportunities and is willing to lead the charge to show other operators the benefits of an online gaming market.
Land-Based, Online Casinos Don’t Clash
The obvious reason why some operators don’t want iGaming to come to Nevada is money. They have a lot of it invested in tangible, physical assets in the state and are concerned that these might be cannibalized by online alternatives. However, studies have already shown that the two can operate in tandem without one seriously impacting the other. Hornbuckle agrees with this premise.
MGM has online gaming options in five states through its BetMGM platform. Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have all embraced iGaming and BetMGM, and Hornbuckle points out that the company will make “a billion dollars in net gaming revenue next year” through the platform.
Hornbuckle asserts that has not reduced the gaming levels at its brick-and-mortar properties, but is also aware of the economic benefits of a transition to online operations, should that become necessary. He said during the panel discussion, “The opportunity to build a new casino, a new brick and mortar casino, at any scale, the economics are upside down. This has been the capital of the gaming universe for decades, and we are losing. We’re not going to see a new brick and mortar casino here for a long, long time.”
Online gaming only comprises about 5% of the entire industry in the US, which shows how significant the brick-and-mortar segment is and will continue to be. However, things are changing and Hornbuckle has seen what’s coming. He understands that the iGaming gambler is not the same as a brick-and-mortar gambler and predicts, “We’re after a global business and we are going to miss this opportunity if we don’t quickly get on board.”