MGM Resorts International, which received preliminary approval on November 1, was granted an online poker license by the Nevada Gaming Commission this afternoon.
MGM said it plans to launch a free-play poker site next spring in preparation for its real-money venture, which would be operated in conjunction with bwin.party.
Bwin.party is awaiting licensing from gaming regulators in the Silver State, but the company’s application isn’t expected to be reviewed until early next year.
Regulators have expressed uneasiness at MGM’s relationship with bwin, who continues to serve politically sensitive, grey markets. Co-chief executive Norbert Teufelberger, for example, was questioned by Belgian authorities earlier this week over the company’s unlicensed operations in the country.
Further, PartyPoker (which merged with bwin last year) agreed to a $105 million non-persecution settlement with the Department of Justice, and bowed out of the American market after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006.
Last October, MGM signed partnership agreements with bwin.party and Boyd Gaming to provide online poker in the United States if legislation is passed.
Boyd would acquire a 10% stake in a new company that would offer online poker to US players under bwin.party’s brands, including PartyPoker. MGM will own 25% of the venture and bwin.party will hold a 65% stake.
Today’s meeting in Las Vegas also saw license approvals for Z4Poker, which is developing a poker platform, and CAMS, which provides account management and identity verification services. The applications had received initial recommendations from the State Gaming Control Board earlier this month.