CA sports betting is still a ways off, despite new deal

California Sports Betting On The Horizon? MGM, GVC Strike Deal With CA Tribe

California tribe sports betting

If and when California sports betting ever becomes legal, at least one casino property will have the infrastructure in place to offer the hot commodity.

MGM GVC Interactive, the joint venture owned by MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings, has agreed to partner with the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) for a future sports betting venture.

“We are excited to have a partner the caliber of UAIC as our first partner for MGM-GVC in Indian Country,” Scott Butera, MGM president of interactive gaming said in a statement on Tuesday.

The partnership comes despite the fact there is no clear or immediate path for sports betting to be legalized in the state. It’s the latest example of increasing interest in sports betting from Native American gaming tribes in the US.

Terms of the sports betting partnership

Little is known about the specifics of the deal, but according to the official press release, MGM-GVC will provide its “iconic brands” and “proprietary technology” which will enable UAIC to offer both retail and mobile sports betting, online poker and online casinos games at its Thunder Valley Casino Resort.

Considering MGM recently struck up a deal with the National Basketball Association, the deal puts UAIC in a potentially lucrative position moving forward.

Adam Greenblatt, GVC director of Corporate Development and Strategy said, “We greatly admire the success of UAIC has had with its Thunder Valley Casino Resort and look forward to adding to that success.”

Planning ahead for CA sports betting

Following the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, states have begun to pass legislation allowing for legal and regulated sports betting within their borders.

So far, Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, New Jersey and West Virginia have passed bills to allow for sports betting. New York and Pennsylvania are expected to introduce regulations to permit wagering in the near future.

The deal gives MGM-GVC an early entrance into the US’s second largest state should it ever legalize sports betting.

“It is not yet clear if California will authorize sports betting or interactive games generally, but with the overturn of PASPA possibly opening the doors for sports betting, our tribe wants to be well-situated and this agreement with the national leader in the field does just that,” said Gene Whitehouse, chairman of UAIC.

Future of California sports betting

California Assemblyman Adam Gray has been pushing the state legislature to move on sports betting, including the possibility of putting a measure on the November ballot since early June.

A  group called Californians for Sports Betting, filled a sports betting initiative in July but it would not qualify until the 2020 election.

The state constitution prohibits sports betting and would require a voter referendum to make the change.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 valid signatures would be needed to place the measure on the November ballot, which could cost anywhere from $2 to $3 million.

However, Native American tribes hold an abundance of political clout in the state. Tribal gaming generates upwards of $8 billion annually for California.

In any event, California sports betting still appears to be a ways off.

MGM-GVC partnership

In July, Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International announced the global partnership with GVC.

The deal was for 25 years, with each company putting in $100 million.

GVC owns Sportingbet, PartyPoker, Bwin and Ladbrokes/Coral.

MGM has casinos in Las Vegas plus additional properties in Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Mississippi and New Jersey.

Nicholaus Garcia
- Nick comes from West Texas where he graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in psychology. After a five-year stint in Chicago, where he wrote about local politics and graduated with a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, he moved to Washington, D.C. to write about issues related to gambling policy, sports betting and responsible gaming.