Hear The Roar: BetMGM Brand Continues Rapid Growth In NJ Online Gambling

Written By Bill Gelman on August 26, 2020 - Last Updated on December 12, 2023

Once upon a time, BetMGM was PlayMGM and the New Jersey online gambling market was much smaller and simpler.

But with the advent of legal online sports betting in New Jersey, the competition and the market expanded. There are, at last count, 29 brands hosting 49 total gambling sites.

It’s perhaps not the best time to change things up, but that’s just what BetMGM did in 2019.

“Last year at this time, we were preparing for the launch of BetMGM in New Jersey,” said Adam Greenblatt, CEO of Roar Digital, the company behind BetMGM’s new look. “That launch coincided with the introduction of our new digital technology.”

Now, the BetMGM brand is rapidly expanding across the country. It’s making moves in the West and Midwest and has sportsbook apps up and running in Colorado, West Virginia, and Indiana.

But it got its start in New Jersey.

Roar Digital, the joint venture of MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings, is pleased with the results so far. Standing idly by and watching the competition do its thing, however, is not part of the plans.

In an interview with Play NJ, Greenblatt summed up the past in two words: “pretty phenomenal.” The future looks similarly bright.

BetMGM sportsbook sets the table in New Jersey

On Sept. 5, 2019, Roar unveiled the product upgrade for the BetMGM sportsbook and Borgata Sports apps. Both operate under the MGM-owned Borgata.

But BetMGM isn’t just a sports betting brand. There is BetMGM online casino and BetMGM poker, too

And going live with a new look and a new platform in New Jersey was the first phase of a much bigger national plan.

The BetMGM sportsbook has gone live in four states total, with additional markets on the radar. The NJ timing coincided with the start of the 2019-20 NFL betting season. And as Greenblatt likes to say, “we’ve had a busy old time” focusing on different aspects of the business.

The busy list includes:

  • Market access
  • Market deployment launch
  • Product improvement
  • Marketing player growth
  • Preparing for further market launches

The original PlayMGM online casino and poker app launched in 2017. For Greenblatt, launching in New Jersey before the other markets has its advantages. For one, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, in terms of its expertise and sophistication, is probably ahead of most jurisdictions.

The DGE, according to Greenblatt, is probably the leading jurisdiction when it comes to digital and online gambling.

“Having got product through the DGE and live in New Jersey, that’s helpful to us, to point to and use as a reference point when we go to other states for licensing and for product approvals,” said Greenblatt.

“You cut your teeth in Jersey and then roll out in other states.”

Strong NJ sports betting numbers for BetMGM

Like other operators, BetMGM has little to complain about when it comes to July’s NJ sports betting results. The market as a whole combined for $315 million in total bets.

The return of the MLB, the NBA, and NHL after a 100-plus day shutdown certainly helps. The global pandemic pushed sports to the sidelines way back in March.

And Borgata was one of the big beneficiaries with just shy of $3 million in total sports revenue. That was good enough for third-best in the market, right behind Meadowlands and Resorts.

The majority, or $2.3 million of it, came via the BetMGM Sportsbook and Borgata Sports apps.

And it’s looking more and more likely Borgata will soar past $10 million in revenue for the year. The number currently sits at $8.9 million.

Greenblatt is really liking what he sees.

“I mean, we are hoping now, in the NBA playoffs, we’ll see a few more upsets to keep fans engaged in the latter part of the playoff series,” said Greenblatt. “But it’s been superb for us.”

He pointed out the week-on-week increase in the number of active players in bet count along with a higher degree of engagement.

And with the 2020 NFL season kicking off on Sept. 10, the outlook is looking even more promising,

BetMGM Casino is picking up steam

When Atlantic City casinos were forced to close back in March as a result of the global pandemic, gamblers took their play to NJ online casinos.

As a result, NJ online casino revenue set several new all-time highs from April to June.

Now, here’s the interesting part. The majority of AC properties started welcoming back guests July 2 and 3, granted at 25% capacity.

Borgata, for its part, waited until July 26 to hold its reopening.

Even so, instead of taking a step back, the NJ online casino business prospered with an all-time monthly high of $87.4 million.

Whether players got accustomed to gambling at home or just decided not to return to AC, the license holder’s online business did not take a step back. Borgata reported $15 million in total revenue, good enough for a 17.5% market share. Borgata and its online brands now sit right behind the online juggernauts of Golden Nugget AC and Resorts Digital in terms of revenue and market share.

BetMGM is one of four brands contributing to Borgata’s online casino result. The others are:

Greenblatt is quick to point out that 25% capacity limits and indoor dining prohibitions at AC casinos have to be taken into account. Then there is the uncertainly regarding the COVID-19 situation. Those two factors play a role in how well online casinos are doing now compared to how well they will do a year from now.

At the same time, he is optimistic about what the future holds.

“Frankly, I have great confidence in the resilience of that digital gaming product, and what we’ve also seen [from] new players,” said Greenblatt.

In his view, the growth of BetMGM online casino just means customers are starting to enjoy the online product even more. And that growth will work in tandem with the retail experience.

BetMGM vs. the competition (namely FanDuel and DraftKings)

The BetMGM brand has come a long way over the last 12 months. And things will not be slowing down anytime soon.

There is a fall launch target for the BetMGM online casino in neighboring Pennsylvania. And for 2021, the OhioMassachusettsIowa, and Virginia sports betting markets are all on the radar.

Greenblatt sums up the business plans by saying “we’re certainly not sitting on our hands.”

And as far as New Jersey goes, increasing market share is part of those plans.

FanDuel and DraftKings are the kings of the NJ sports betting land, but BetMGM is focusing on future growth. Greenblatt noted in mature sports betting markets, most players will have an average of two to three betting apps on their phones.

“So we are still seeing a little bit of early market stickiness at this point,” said Greenblatt.

He used the words “fairly measured” in reference to New Jersey growth.

“Our product has improved dramatically to the point where I think we offer a differentiated and competitive sports product. And with brand credibility, I think that bodes well for us to make incremental and sequential gains against FanDuel snd DraftKings in sports in New Jersey.”

But he doesn’t want to set an expectation that the current market shares will shift suddenly in BetMGM’s favor. Far from it.

“More progressive in our favor,” is how Greenblatt sees things playing out

And just think about this: From 2017 to 2019 and now 2020, BetMGM has come a long way. And look where it’s headed.

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman has been reporting on the NJ gambling market since 2018, right around when the Garden State launched sports betting. Bill transitioned from lead writer for PlayNJ and NJ Gambling Sites to his current role as managing editor in 2020. Besides offering in-depth analysis on NJ gambling market trends and news, Bill regularly sits down with Atlantic City casino industry executives to offer readers exclusive interviews and comprehensive coverage. Bill received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ithaca College. He has contributed to other Catena Media sites including The Lines, Legal Sports Report, PlayPennsylvania and PlayCanada.

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