MGM Takes Over Largest Ohio Casino

The flag of Ohio
Record revenues have been reported at Ohio’s casinos and racinos.

MGM Resorts is one of the biggest casino brands in the world and it is constantly looking for opportunities to expand into new markets and territories. It will come as no surprise to see that it has now entered the Ohio casino market, taking over the largest casino resort in the state – the Hard Rock Rocksino.

Recent moves by MGM Resorts

The gambling industry across the world has been changing rapidly as of late. In the United States the Supreme Court ended the federal ban on sports betting in May 2018. Significant countries such as Japan and Greece have legalized casino resorts and are currently accepting bids for these licenses.

There is more opportunity now than ever before for the likes of MGM Resorts to expand their influence globally.

One of their major moves in the US during 2018 was the opening of the MGM Springfield in Massachusetts. This was the first casino resort to be opened in the state and it came seven years after this type of casino was first legalized.

Almost $1bn (£750m) was invested in this project and it is estimated that the state will receive tax revenue of around $100m (£75m) annually from the casino. It will be a boost to tourism in the region and will see about 3,000 jobs created. The casino opened its doors for business on August 24, 2018.

When sports betting was legalized in May, the MGM Resorts was quick off the mark and signed a deal to become the official betting partner of the NBA and the WNBA.

This deal was announced on July 31 and it will see MGM Resorts sports betting products have access to all forms of league data. In return, it will work closely with the NBA to ensure that there are no suspicious betting activities taking place that could affect the integrity of the game of basketball.

Overseas, MGM Resorts has shown a keen interest in obtaining one of the three casino resort licenses up for grabs in Japan. It is expected that each license could be worth as much as $10bn annually in revenue.

The Greek authorities announced at the beginning of September that they would soon be accepting applications for an $8bn (£6bn) casino resort project located outside of Athens, in which MGM Resorts has expressed keen interest.

MGM moving into Ohio

This is MGM Resorts first foray into the Ohio market and it is doing so by taking over the current largest casino resort in the state, which was called the Hard Rock Rocksino.

This is a smart move as sports betting is set to be legalized in Ohio during 2019. Ohio has a population of 12 million and this casino resort is ideally located between Akron and Cleveland, the major cities in the state.

There were more than 2,300 lottery terminals at the Rocksino, in addition to the standard food and retail outlets. There were also various venues for entertainment purposes and as well as the nearby horse racetrack at Northfield Park.

The takeover involved MGM Growth Properties purchasing this property from Milstein Entertainment in a deal that is worth about $1bn. It was initially agreed upon in July. There is a lease on the casino worth $275m (£207m), which MGM Resorts will have to pay.

This casino has been open since 2013 and it has been popular among local residents. In its most recent 12-month reported time period, it had a net turnover of $293m (£221m), with adjusted earnings of $94m (£71m). This made it the leading casino in the state for the past three years or so.

Sports betting in Ohio

While there had been hopes that Ohio could push through a sports betting bill in 2018, this ultimately proved to be unsuccessful.

A bill was introduced to the legislature in July, but it will not be looked at until after the midterm elections in November. Therefore, it will be 2019 before the plenary will be able to debate its merits.

Casinos became legalized in 2009 as a result of an amendment to the constitution. There would need to be another amendment passed if sports betting is to be introduced.

There has not really been any specific information on sports betting in relation to this bill, only that it has been authored by Senator Sean O’Brien and Senator John Eklund. The only section that is part of this bill says: “It is the intent of the General Assembly to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.”

According to Senator O’Brien, they will take on board input from stakeholders as to what the best way to approach such a bill would be. There is plenty of time to do so and Ohio will have the benefit of seeing how other states fare in their first forays into legalized sports betting.