MGM Resorts CEO in Favor of Nevada Legalizing Online Casinos

  • MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle said the Nevada gaming industry is missing out on significant growth
  • He feels the local casino market can be protected while still legalizing online casinos
  • A Nevada Gaming Control Board hearing on possible online gaming expansion was postponed
  • MGM Resorts expects net gaming revenue from its online operations to be around $1bn next year
  • AGA CEO Bill Miller believes that online gaming can complement land-based casinos
Smartphone with casino items flying out of it
MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle is calling for Nevada to legalize online casinos, saying it will not hurt land-based properties. [Image:]

Missing out on the action

MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle is in favor of Nevada legalizing online casinos. He made these comments on Sunday during a panel discussion at IndyFest, explaining that the gaming industry in the state is currently “missing a significant opportunity for growth.” He added that many of the owners of land-based casinos in the state are against this form of expansion.

We’re not interested in my mother sitting on her couch in Henderson, gaming.”

Hornbuckle is of the belief that there is a way in which online casinos can be legalized and that the local casino market also is kept protected. He said: “We’re not interested in my mother sitting on her couch in Henderson, gaming.”

Instead, companies like MGM Resorts are looking at creating a worldwide business.

Opposition in the state

In August, a group of gaming operators led by Station Casinos spoke about their opposition to the expansion of online gambling in Nevada. This group said that any proposals to make changes should be looked at by the governor’s Gaming Policy Committee and get ultimate approval from lawmakers in the state.

Online poker has been legal in Nevada since 2013, but only one platform,, is currently up and running. Ultimate Poker was the first online poker room in the state, opening in April 2013, but it closed about a year and a half later.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board had previously scheduled a workshop hearing in May about potentially legalizing online casinos. However, the regulator said it was postponing the hearing until after the adjournment of the legislature in June. The hearing has not been rescheduled.

Hornbuckle believes that the traditional land-based casino market in Las Vegas is saturated and that building new casinos in the city in the future will not really make economic sense. He believes that Las Vegas will not see a new brick-and-mortar casino “for a long, long time.”

He is also in favor of allowing remote registration for online sports betting accounts in Nevada. Currently, people have to register for an account in a physical casino. With 17 states having online sportsbooks up and running, only Illinois and Nevada still have an in-person registration requirement. In August, over 69% of all sports bets in Nevada came through mobile apps.

MGM’s online efforts to date

MGM Resorts currently has online casinos in Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia through the BetMGM brand that it co-owns with UK-based gambling group Entain. It also has online sportsbooks and poker sites operational in several states.

Hornbuckle said that MGM Resorts expects to have $1bn in net gaming revenue from its BetMGM operations next year, adding that these online operations have taken nothing away from its land-based side of the business. BetMGM has its headquarters in New Jersey and is set to increase its employee base from 700 people to 1,000 people over the coming six months.

A complementary approach

American Gaming Association (AGA) CEO Bill Miller also took part in the panel discussion on Sunday. He agreed about the importance of Nevada ending the need to register for an online sports betting account in person. He also talked about how the online gaming industry saw significant spikes after the COVID-19 pandemic-enforced closures of physical properties. Miller stressed, though, that this spike in online revenue did not retract following the reopening of properties.

generated almost $2bn in revenue, easily beating the $1.55bn generated all of last year

For the first seven months of 2021, the states that have online casinos generated almost $2bn in revenue, easily beating the $1.55bn generated all of last year. The revenue figures for commercial casinos in many states are also now close to or ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

Miller believes that a lot of traditional casino operators are now realizing that the expansion of online gaming can complement retail operations and not be the death of them. Miller still noted that online gaming revenue is only about 5% of the total revenue of the commercial casino sector. He does believe that more states are going to legalize online casinos in the coming years.  

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