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Kindred Group’s US expansion plans are closer to fruition as it signed a five-year deal with Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Kindred’s successful recreational player-oriented poker client likely will not be part of the deal. Mohegan Sun withdrew its online poker license application at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting on Nov. 28.
This also is the first confirmation that Mohegan Sun wants to offer sports betting. The company will have to apply for a sports betting license and wait for PGCB approval.
At the presentation to the PGCB in November, Mohegan Sun representatives said:
“The partner is a well known public company in Europe and has filed for an application in New Jersey as well and plans to be present in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”
Curiously enough, this apparently reticent comment reduced the field of possibilities instantly. Kindred was almost the only potential partner that fit the description. So, today’s announcement was no real surprise.
Aviram Alroy, VP Interactive Gaming at Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, commented:
“We’ve aligned with one of the best online casino and sport book operators in online regulated markets which will allow us to offer best in class experience to our existing customers as well as attracting new ones. Introduction of the Kindred offering to the market is a great positive for Mohegan Sun as well as the state of Pennsylvania.”
Kindred CEO Henrik Tjärnström first told investors of his interest in the US market during the Q2 2018 earnings call. By the Q3 call, Kindred had set up a partnership with Hard Rock Atlantic City.
The Q3 presentation slides showed plans to expand to the rest of the US after signing an agreement with Scientific Games Digital (SG Digital).
“The agreement covers the state of New Jersey, where SG Digital already has a license, but the aim is to extend the partnership to other U.S. states if, or when, Kindred decides to expand its U.S. presence. Kindred and SG Digital have signed a three-year agreement, with the option to extend thereafter.”
And over in New Jersey, Mohegan Sun’s existing online casino is powered by none other than Scientific Games.
Today’s presser confirms the group’s broad ambitions. Manuel Stan, SVP Kindred US, commented:
“We are excited and proud to extend our US footprint into one of the largest US states to regulate both online sports betting and casino. Finding a strong partner who shares Kindred’s dedication to customer experience and values has been critical, and I am delighted that we have found just that in Mohegan Sun Pocono. I am confident that Kindred and Mohegan Sun Pocono will offer customers in Pennsylvania a truly great online sports betting and casino experience.”
Kindred’s other strategic partner is Kambi. In December, the partnership was extended to include Kambi in the New Jersey expansion:
“The addendum will give Kindred access to Kambi’s sports betting platform in New Jersey. This agreement, together with the already communicated agreement with SG Digital, will allow Kindred to offer customers in New Jersey a full range of first class sports betting and casino products under its Unibet brand.”
The Mohegan Sun deal statement doesn’t mention Kambi, a company spun off by Kindred in 2014. Through the relationship with Kindred, it looks like Kambi might be extending its footprint even farther into Pennsylvania.
The deal partners did not give a timeline for launch, either for the sportsbooks or online gaming. At this late stage, a Q2 2019 launch is more likely than the earlier part of the year.
It is also notable that the PGCB advice regarding the new DOJ opinion does not appear to have dampened enthusiasm for a new online gaming deal.