DGE To GVC: It’s Your Party But We’ll License If We Want To

Posted By Steve Ruddock on February 2, 2016 - Last Updated on February 10, 2016

While GVC Holdings’ online gaming license application is being vetted, its newly acquired asset, bwin.party, will be able to continue to operate in New Jersey per the DGE.

According to a filing from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement first reported on by PokerFuse Pro (paywall), bwin.party can continue to operate in the New Jersey online gambling market while the DGE reviews the license applicant of bwin.party’s new parent company, GVC Holdings, so long as certain conditions are met.

The Director’s Order states that GVC must abide by a strict “communications ban,” which prevents the company from having any direct operational control or influence over BWIN NJ and BWIN USA while the DGE conducts a “pre-transactional waiver investigation.”

During this period, Kevin Allan, the President of New Jersey Operations of bwin.party, will be calling for the shots for bwin.party’s U.S. operation.

A DGE employee will act as a monitoring agent to make sure the communications ban is being abided by. The cost of this monitoring will be paid for by GVC.

The Director’s Statement signed by NJ DGE Chief David Rebuck reads in part:

BWIN NJ and BWIN USA will be permitted to continue their New Jersey online gaming operations under their existing licenses and managed without any operational or management influence or control by GVC.

GVC’s future in the U.S. yet to be written

GVC has now officially completed its acquisition of bwin.party, and the newly combined gaming giants are now trading on the London Stock Exchange.

Even though GVC has been making the necessary arrangements to continue to operate in legal U.S. markets (such applying for a New Jersey online gaming license), and even though the Director’s Statement gives bwin.party and its New Jersey partner Borgata some short-term stability, there is a significant level of uncertainty when it comes to the eventual fate of bwin.party in the U.S. market now that the company is owned by GVC.

Gaming giants are unlikely to focus on U.S. products and markets

The U.S. market is extremely small, and even if the company is intent on staying in it, GVC is unlikely to devote the attention to its U.S. projects Borgata would like to see. This same situation (a mega-merger between Scientific Games and Bally Technologies) caused Golden Nugget to switch to NYX Gaming, as Golden Nugget felt NYX would be more focused on the U.S. market than Scientific Games, and make a better partner going forward.

Borgata is said to be weighing its options

Even though GVC has applied for a transactional waiver, and despite a GVC spokesperson telling eGR Magazine the company is “very keen to carry on” its partnership with the Borgata in New Jersey, rumors have been swirling that Borgata is already exploring alternative partnership possibilities.

If it were to lose Borgata as a partner, it’s unclear who bwin.party could possibly turn to, as all but one of the state’s casinos seem to be happy with their current online gaming platforms (see chart below) and unlikely to upset the apple cart to jump on the bwin.party train. The one casino without iGaming, Trump Taj Mahal, is also unlikely to make such a move.

Trump Taj Mahal has already failed once with an online gaming platform (Ultimate Gaming) and isn’t really in a position to take another crack at iGaming as it’s in the midst of a bankruptcy restructuring.

Brick & Mortar Casino Online Gaming Partner(s)
Caesars, Bally’s, Harrah’s 888 Holdings
Tropicana Casino GameSys
Golden Nugget Casino NYX Gaming
Resorts Casino NYX Gaming and PokerStars

Bottom line

It looks like GVC is doing all the right things to keep its partnership with Borgata intact, but in the end, all the right things still might not be enough.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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