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Anne Lindner
 

MGM Mirage to Launch Sports Betting Site

11 January 2002

MGM Mirage Online hasn't yet gone live with its Isle of Man-licensed Internet casino, but the company is already going ahead with plans for a sports book tie-in.

Bill Hornbuckle, the president of the company, whose parent business is one of the largest casino operators on the Las Vegas Strip, said MGM Mirage Online is seeking a bookmakers license in the United Kingdom somewhere outside of London. Hornbuckle said the casino and sports book will be linked off of a portal much the way Ladbrokes operates its gaming sites.


"We clearly understand bookmaking and risk management assessment; we just need to acquire some local knowledge and we think that's accessible to us."
-Bill Hornbuckle

"There will be a central portal and you'll go to either the sports site in the U.K.," he said, "or for games you'll be put off into the Isle of Man."

The online gaming company, which received its Internet casino license in September, will be using sports book software by Orbis and casino software by its partner, Wager Works. Hornbuckle said MGM Mirage Online is in the process of setting up its sports betting office.

"We need to find a location for the office itself, which we'll be doing in February and March," he said, "and then based on the township, you apply for a bookmakers license. With that you can launch a Web site."

Hornbuckle said his company considered partnering with Ladbrokes, Blue Square or any of the other large bookmakers in the United Kingdom for the sports betting venture, but decided to go it alone.

"We clearly understand bookmaking and risk management assessment; we just need to acquire some local knowledge and we think that's accessible to us," he said.

The company is seeking to work with people who have knowledge of fixed-odds betting, Hornbuckle said, because the way bookmakers operate in the United States is different from the core betting offerings in the United Kingdom. Also, the site will need employees familiar with European sports such as premiership soccer. Hornbuckle said he's not sure how the main portal will be branded. The choice is between one of the casino properties' brands or the corporate brand.

"Ultimately they'll all be offered. Really the only question is what do we launch the portal as," he said.

As for why the Las Vegas hotel and casino operator is choosing to launch its online casino and sports book using separate licenses, Hornbuckle said it had several reasons for breaking the two betting types into two different licensing jurisdictions, including the U.K. advertising rules and the recent abolition of the U.K. betting tax.

"It's one of the few jurisdictions that you can advertise a sports Internet site from. You've got to be delicate in how you do that, but we can promote and announce the launch of your site from within the marketplace," he said.


"There was some considerable consternation between the entities with the Isle of Man."
-Bill Hornbuckle

The regulations for operating a betting site from the Isle of Man changed recently, Hornbuckle said. After the Sept. 11 tragedies, the British territory revised its money laundering rules. However, he said, the new regulations have not been published yet.

"They've come out with a set of regulations that we think are fair and equitable and something that we can work within, but we have not seen that document," he said. "There was some considerable consternation between the entities with the Isle of Man."

For now, MGM Mirage Online is focusing on getting its sites established internationally, in countries where Internet gambling is legal. In the future, however, Hornbuckle said the company would "absolutely" move its servers to the United States should online gaming be legalized there.

"We'll take it one day at a time," he said. "Gaming has always been a state's rights issue, and it should remain as such. It should not become a federal U.S. issue, to the extent that Nevada or any other state wants to legalize it, that should be within their prerogative to do that, and we support that position."

MGM Mirage to Launch Sports Betting Site is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner