GVC Holdings’ PartyPoker Brand to Return to Nevada

Updated: May 28th, 2019 by Haley Hintze

An old-time favorite online-poker brand will be making its return to Nevada, as GVC Holdings, the parent company of PartyPoker, has confirmed that it has received a two-year approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) that includes PartyPoker (as an interactive gaming service), and Roar Digital, as an “online betting and online gaming” service in partnership with Nevada’s MGM Resorts.

Approval was virtually assured following a favorable 2-1 vote by the three-person Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) earlier this month, though that came only after GCB member Terry Johnson questioned GVC CEO Kenneth Alexander about the firm’s ongoing and lingering activities in some “grey market” countries, most notably Turkey. Alexander and three other GVC execs in attendance at the earlier meeting received a dressing down from Johnson, yet Johnson’s negative vote was in the minority.

Part of the issue surrounding GVC’s latent presence in Turkey and some other jurisdictions came from GVC’s rapid acquisition of other brands in recent years, including the bwin.party portfolio and the Ladbrokes Coral family of brands. Regarding its prior business in Turkey, GVC had already walked away from the market, literally giving its business there to one of its former affiliate partners.

This week’s confirmation by the NGC gives GVC Holdings a provisional license, meaning the company will have to go through a similar licensing process in 2021. Alexander was also approved as the CEO for operations for the same period, while the approvals for three other GVC execs — all expected to be conditionally approved — were pushed off to the board’s July meeting.

Seperately, and also in partnership with MGM Resorts, GVC has also received a transactional waiver from New Jersey’s Department of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to operate in the state of New Jersey. MGM owns and operates the Borgata, a prominent casino force in the New Jersey market. The exact timetable for these products’ launch remains unknown.

While PartyPoker has already made its return to the US via its previous licensing approval in New Jersey, this will mark the first time that PartyPoker will become available to Nevada online players since late 2006, when the US’s Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Party’s parent company at that time, PartyGaming, was domiciled in the UK and was forced to exit the US market because of existing trade pacts between the two countries. Party was the #1 global online poker brand at the time, but its exit allowed PokerStars (which served most of the US until 2011) to claim that title.

Here’s GVC Holdings’ announcement of the Nevada and New Jersey approvals:

GVC Holdings PLC (LSE: GVC), the global sports-betting and gaming group, is pleased to confirm that following a hearing on 23 May 2019 with the Nevada Gaming Commission (“NGC”), the Group has received the required regulatory approvals to operate in the state for an initial two-year period. In addition, Roar Digital, the Group’s joint venture with MGM Resorts, has received a transactional waiver from the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement (“DGE”), to operate in the state of New Jersey.

The NGC approvals clear the way for Roar Digital, to receive its licence to offer online betting and online gaming (currently limited to poker) within Nevada on a B2C and B2B basis, while the transactional waiver from the DGE enables Roar Digital to offer sports betting and online gaming products within New Jersey.

Roar Digital was established in July 2018 to create a world-class sports betting and online gaming platform in the United States, in order to take advantage of the new opportunities created by the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the US federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”).

Kenneth Alexander, CEO said:

“I am delighted the Nevada Gaming Commission has confirmed that GVC meets its stringent regulatory requirements in order to offer betting and gaming products in the state. Coming at the same time as Roar Digital receives a transactional waiver to operate in New Jersey, GVC and our MGM joint venture are hitting important milestones which pave the way for the creation of a market leading US betting and gaming business.”

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