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Murren Predicts Online Gaming Compacts Within a Year

Murren Predicts Online Gaming Compacts Within a Year

New Jersey and Nevada could be sharing online gamblers as early as next year, according to Jim Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International.

Murren told analysts on an earnings call that casino officials in the two states were discussing a compact to increase market share. 

“I think it’s likely that in 2014 we’ll see a compact between New Jersey and Nevada,” Murren said. “We’ve really been focusing on Nevada’s ability to compact with other states, create more liquidity.”

Of the three states that offer online gaming—Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey—the home state of Las Vegas is the smallest when it comes to population. It also does not have the cross-border population of the other two. With online poker confined within state borders, the lack of liquidity could have a serious impact on Nevada’s online reach.

Nevada launched online poker in April, with only one company, Station Casinos’ Ultimate Gaming, currently servicing players. Other companies—including those with physical properties in Atlantic City—are expected to come on line soon. MGM runs the Bellagio, The Mirage and MGM Grand in Nevada and is a co-owner of Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa, for example. Caesars Entertainment, which has casinos in Nevada, has four properties in Atlantic City. Murren expects Caesars to be the next poker site to go live in Nevada with

New Jersey is moving rapidly to launch a complete line of online casino games by the end of November. With the largest population among the three internet gaming states and densely populated neighboring states with a tradition of traveling to Atlantic City, the state is set to be the industry leader in the U.S.

“Nevada is striving to do what it can in regards to compacts,” said A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board. “We do not jump into the fire without having done a lot of cautious research and study into the particulars of such agreements, and that phase is nearing completion.”

Murren said that at least 40 of the 50 states are in some stage of debating the adoption of online gambling. State compacts would not only increase player pools but create a more uniform regulatory landscape—finding a consensus on the federal level remains a challenge. Compacts would also enable states to share resources for identifying the location of gamblers, guarding against underage gambling, stolen identities and credit card fraud.

MGM is dedicating its resources to building multi-border relationships.

“We have a big team that is preparing us on a state-by-state basis and on the states that we believe will be the most productive for us,” he said. “And we’ve been working with the state of Nevada on their efforts to compact with other states.”

According to some analysts, Nevada could generate $50 million to $250 million in annual revenues from online gambling. The larger and more populated New Jersey is expected to generate $500 million to $1 billion yearly.