GVC Holdings win Nevada gaming license, but it comes with a ‘leash’


gvc-holdings-nevada-gaming-licenseNevada’s online poker players may finally get a second option after PartyPoker’s parent company GVC Holdings was granted a local gaming license.

On Thursday, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) unanimously approved the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s recommendation that GVC be awarded a state gaming license. However, the license is limited to two years, in part due to the confrontational tone of the NGCB hearing into GVC’s application earlier this month.

That early May hearing featured NGCB members pressing GVC execs, including CEO Kenny Alexander, on the company’s controversial grey/black-market history in markets such as Turkey. GVC did brisk business in Turkey but jettisoned the operation in 2017 over fears that its Turkish presence might complicate its planned acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral Group.

By most accounts, Alexander didn’t respond well to being upbraided by the NGCB but he opened Thursday’s hearing by apologizing to NGCB directors. GVC chairman Lee Feldman also apologized while saying the company had upgraded its compliance approach and structure to address the regulators’ concerns.

While the NGC appears to have bought what GVC was selling, they took a ‘trust but verify’ stance by requiring the company to put up $100k to fund compliance checks during the two-year duration of GVC’s Nevada license.

CDC Gaming Reports quoted NGC chairman Tony Alamo saying GVC’s license came with “a leash and that gives me some comfort.” Alamo said he was “very comfortable going forward that you won’t step on a nail.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal suggested that Commissioner John Moran was somewhat less sure, saying he hoped GVC wouldn’t leave the NGC with “egg on our face.”

Last year, GVC and casino operator MGM Resorts formed an online gambling and sports betting joint venture which has since been christened Roar Digital. The JV has established a 14-person office in Las Vegas and is being overseen by ex-Ladbrokes director Adam Greenblatt.

Nevada currently permits only online sports betting and poker services, and the state’s limited population convinced all but one (WSOP.com) of its early online poker licensees that the returns weren’t worth the bother. MGM received a Nevada online poker license way back in 2012 but never actually launched a local site.

GVC is currently operating its PartyPoker brand in New Jersey’s regulated online market, and the interstate liquidity sharing pact between New Jersey and Nevada (plus Delaware) will likely entice GVC to test the Nevada waters with its poker operations.