MGM Closer to Entering European Gaming Markets Via LeoVegas Buy

Future scenarios include BetMGM launching in the UK or Scandinavia. BetMGM could also get some new online casino titles. LeoVegas could also make its long-awaited entry into New Jersey.
MGM Closer to Entering European Gaming Markets Via LeoVegas Buy
By
September 07, 2022

MGM Resorts International appears one step closer to possibly launching BetMGM or another online casino platform in Europe after the vast majority of shareholders in Sweden’s LeoVegas AB accepted a public tender offer for the company last week.

Las Vegas-based MGM could also add some of LeoVegas’ casino titles to BetMGM Casino or Borgata Casino in the US. It could also integrate Rhino, LeoVegas’ technical platform, to support BetMGM in online poker, casino, and sports betting in North America.

Each of those scenarios was discussed during an MGM earnings call early last month — roughly four weeks before 96% of LeoVegas’ stockholders approved of MGM’s offer of 61 Swedish kronor (KR) per share, for a total purchase price of approximately $604 million.

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New Board, Stock De-Listing on Horizon

MGM said settlement of the shares in LeoVegas is expected to start on or around September 7 through its wholly owned indirect subsidiary, MGM Casino Next Lion LLC.

“The completion of this transaction represents a major milestone for MGM Resorts as we continue to pursue our strategy of growing our online gaming footprint worldwide,” said CEO Bill Hornbuckle. “We look forward to welcoming the LeoVegas team and are excited to work with them to grow our global digital gaming business and maximize the full potential of our omnichannel strategy.”

In a separate statement, LeoVegas said it had invited its shareholders to a meeting on September 27. LeoVegas said the conference would include the election of a Board of Directors, which MGM has suggested should have three members: Hornbuckle, LeoVegas Group CEO Gustaf Hagman, and Gary Fritz — who LeoVegas said serves as Head of Gaming IAC and is a board member at BetMGM and Darkstore LLC. Fritz has been proposed to serve as Board Chairperson.

LeoVegas added that its Board of Directors had resolved to apply for de-listing the company from the Nasdaq Stockholm Exchange. The company said its last day of trading there would be announced after it received confirmation that the exchange had been alerted to its de-listing request.

No closing date for the acquisition has been announced.

BetMGM Could Get New Titles, Enter New Countries

While MGM’s plans are unclear, Hornbuckle and other MGM executives pulled back the curtain during an earnings call on August 3 to discuss Q2 2022.

During that call, Hornbuckle characterized the offer for LeoVegas as a move that was “consistent with our strategy to grow our international online gaming footprint.” And CFO Jonathan Halkyard said MGM had “invested in [its] international digital future” with the offer, which was first proposed in May.

Hornbuckle told analysts that MGM wants to operate outside North America and that a “smaller acquisition” like LeoVegas “was a great place to start.” He also pointed out that LeoVegas had already dabbled in live dealer games.

MGM could add some titles from the LeoVegas online casino platform to BetMGM Casino. Among the top games found on LeoVegas but absent from BetMGM are:

  • Book of Dead
  • Gold Digger
  • Katmandu Gold
  • Sweet Bonanza
  • Temple Tumble Megaways

“We like the entry. We like the platform and the [management] team. And we like the exposure it gives us. It’s a learning curve for us to understand the Rest of the World, and we think we’ll learn a lot from these guys.”

LeoVegas’ Rhino platform includes bingo, online casino, live dealer games, and sports betting. It is fully ported to Google Cloud, allowing for scalability and stability.

Rhino is also a big reason LeoVegas is one of the top iGaming platforms in Scandinavia and the UK.

MGM could also be interested in launching BetMGM — with its joint venture partner, Entain — in countries where LeoVegas has a gaming license — Denmark, Italy, Malta, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. LeoVegas also has a sports betting license in Ireland and is licensed for online casino gaming and sports betting in the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Comments Suggest LeoVegas Will Stay in Ontario, Launch in NJ

Until now, MGM and LeoVegas were competitors in Ontario — with BetMGM going up against the LeoVegas and Royal Panda brands.

But Hornbuckle called Canada “an open marketplace for BetMGM, LeoVegas, and our partners at Entain as well,” which suggests that all three brands will continue to be available in the province.

If that sentiment extends to New Jersey, it could mean that LeoVegas may resume its plans with Caesars Entertainment to launch its LeoVegas branded online casino there. LeoVegas said it had put those plans from May 2021 on hold because of the uncertainty of the MGM proposal.

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