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Kevin Smith

MGM Mirage Makes Official Announcement of I-Gaming Site

17 October 2002

Three weeks to the day after a quiet soft-launch, MGM Mirage and its partners are actively promoting the first virtual casino operators by a Las Vegas strip property. began accepting real-money betting on virtual casino games on Sept. 26 but did so with little fanfare regarding the launch. The site is licensed in the Isle of Man.

On Thursday, though, WagerWorks Inc., the firm that supplied the software to run the site, issued a press release notifying users and industry analysts that the site is up and running.

When the site first went live in late September, MGM Mirage Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Alan Feldman said the soft launch went smoothly. He said the company was intending to get all the games up and running and have an official launch in 30 to 40 days.

Instead, the company was able to do its full launch in just 21 days. Officials from WagerWorks and MGM Mirage were unavailable for additional comment on Thursday, but all indications are the site has been well received among those who accessed it in the last three weeks.

The launch of the site is the end of a two-year process that began in late 2000 when MGM partnered with WagerWorks. That led to the launch of a free-play, MGM Mirage-branded online casino in February 2001.

A combination of the free-play site and frequent pro-Internet-gambling rhetoric from MGM Mirage Chairman Terri Lanni made the company a likely candidate to be the first Vegas-based operator to break into the Internet market.

Unwilling to wait for reluctant policymakers in Nevada to authorize Net betting, the company sought licensing elsewhere and obtained a license in the Isle of Man in September 2001.

Nevada has shown an interest in regulating Internet gambling and took the initial step of passing a law authorizing online casinos (but only if certain conditions were met) in June 2001.

In August 2002 though, the U.S. Department of Justice answered the Nevada Gaming Commission's request for an opinion on Internet casinos by stating that online casino gambling is a violation of the Interstate Wire Act.

The Department of Justice's opinion, along with a recent push in the U.S. House of Representatives to move Rep. James Leach's, R-Iowa, Internet gambling funding prohibition act, has all but put the final nail in the coffin for Nevada-based online gambling in the near future.

With an interest in preserving its good standing in jurisdictions where it operates land-based facilities, MGM has maintained from the start of its Internet venture that it will only accept bets from players in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal.

WagerWorks' WagerWare runs the site. The software combines a game suite, verification technology and back-end administration tools.

Part of being a WagerWorks licensee gives MGM Mirage rights to game titles such as BananaRama, Phantom Belle Video Poker, Ten Play Poker, Top Hat 21, Craps, Three Reel Hold Up, Arabian Riches and Lucky Draw, as well as European and American versions of roulette and baccarat.

While the site is accepting cash bets, players can still chose to play for free as well.

Bill Hornbuckle, president and COO of MGM Mirage Online, said the company is looking at the launch of the site as a way to extend its popular brand beyond the reaches of the North American consumer.

"We're extremely excited about our ability to extend the MGM Mirage casino brand to an entirely new segment of online users," he said. "WagerWorks has a wealth of industry experience and has proven to be the ideal partner in helping us establish our international online gaming presence."

In addition to incorporating WagerWare, MGM enlisted the help of Orbis, a leading supplier of sports betting software based in the United Kingdom. The company specializes in a fixed-odds wagering system, OpenBet. The system is already in use on more than 75 percent of the U.K.'s Internet and interactive TV sports betting applications.

Charles Malir, vice president of marketing at Orbis, said in a statement that his company can now add MGM Mirage to the long list of reputable brands that are using the Orbis system.

"Orbis has a proven history in working with some of the U.K.'s largest betting operators," he said. "Adding the world's foremost casino operator to our portfolio of customers places us in an outstanding position to build our global market share of reputable brands entering this space."

Orbis teamed with WagerWorks earlier this year to provide a competitive gaming system combing leading casino games from WagerWorks and the cutting-edge sports betting technology and administrative tools from Orbis.

Now that MGM has gone forward with its full launch, Malir predicts other leading brands in the gaming industry will follow suit.

"We are very confident that the combined Orbis and WagerWare platform will be the optimal choice for brands seeking a robust, compliant, interactive race, sports and casino solution," he said.

MGM Mirage operates casinos all over the world, housing such notable brands as The MGM Grand, The Mirage, Bellagio, Treasure Island, New York-New York, The Golden Nugget, Beau Rivage in Mississippi's Gulf Coast and the MGM Grand Detroit.

MGM Mirage Makes Official Announcement of I-Gaming Site is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith