MGM’s Hornbuckle backs online gambling in Nevada

The MGM Resorts CEO encourages other Nevada-based casino operators to embrace the world of online gambling - could this be an important moment in the state's journey towards online casinos and sportsbooks?

Nevada's land-based casino moguls have long opposed the full legalization of online gambling.

The recently deceased Las Vegas Sands mogul Sheldon Adelson was the most high-profile critic, sinking millions into efforts to block moves to liberalize online casinos and sports betting at the Federal level.

And as late as this August, a group of owners of smaller Nevada casinos (including Station Casinos CEO Frank Fertitta III - cousin of Golden Nugget CEO Tilman Fertitta), was penning a letter to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, insisting that, "online gaming would undermine investments made by gaming developers in physical gaming locations, cannibalize small operator gaming revenue and weaken the state’s public policy and regulatory framework".

Clearly, Vegas casino owners feel threatened by the wave of online gambling legalization that has been occurring in the US over the past few years.

So it was a surprise to many when MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle came out in support of online gambling in the Silver State at last week's IndyFest conference.

Hornbuckle - whose MGM empire includes the BetMGM online gambling site - said that Nevada's most well-known industry was "missing a significant opportunity for growth" through it's reluctance to embrace online gaming.

The BetMGM website is currently active in several states, offering sports betting and casino action in Michigan, West Virginia and Delaware, as well as the two biggest iGaming markets of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Hornbuckle told the conference that the BetMGM website will earn “a billion dollars in net gaming revenue next year”.

“It has not taken from our brick-and-mortar business,” Hornbuckle added, while commenting that the Nevada land-based market is "saturated", and that "we're not going to see a new brick and mortar casino here for a long, long time."

Other large Nevada-based brands including Caesars, Wynn Resorts and Boyd Gaming are also now active in the US online gambling industry. Of the big players, only Las Vegas Sands is not - and with the demise of Adelson, we wonder just how long it will take before this last hold-out joins its peers in backing online casinos in the state.

Now that Connecticut has opened the doors to internet sportsbooks and iGaming, will Nevade become the 7th state to legalize online casino gambling? We will need to wait until 2022 before finding out.

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