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Bill Hornbuckle Stresses MGM’s Desire To Offer Proprietary Live Dealer Games

MGM Resorts President Bill Hornbuckle has shared again that the company has an interest in broadcasting its own live dealer games.

exterior of mgm grand casino
Photo by AP Photo/John Locher
Derek Helling Avatar
4 mins read

BetMGM is among the leading online casino brands in multiple US states. Like with almost any other business, though, growth is at the forefront of concerns for BetMGM’s ownership. Recent comments from MGM Resorts President Bill Hornbuckle affirm that.

Hornbuckle reinforced MGM’s desire to acquire or build out studios from which to offer BetMGM Casino and Borgata Casino players live dealer games. Although specifics are still scant, a transaction along those lines could be imminent.

Hornbuckle confirms MGM’s interest in proprietary live dealer casino games

Speaking at a JP Morgan conference on March 14, Hornbuckle explained the importance of live dealer content to BetMGM’s future.

“We think our brand, our name’s sake, and what we do is very relevant in that space, and we want to be in that business, broadcasting from Las Vegas and other markets,” Hornbuckle commented.

“We currently do it with Evolution. Over time, we’d like to do it for ourselves. And so there’s four legs to that stool. We have two in play. We have three of them. The third one almost done. We have actually both of them almost on third and fourth leg. And so we see that business as scalable if you think about a place like Brazil or some other new markets in LatAm, we think we’re positioning ready to go after and we’re excited about that.”

These comments came about a month after Hornbuckle said on MGM’s most recent earnings call that “we are on the heels of a deal…we’ve talked about and had a vision of broadcasting live games from Las Vegas to the rest of the world.”

While there are no confirmed details about how MGM plans to “do it for ourselves” right now, there are some scenarios that seem more likely than others.

Sizing up the odds for MGM’s live dealer move

For MGM (NYSE: MGM), what seems like it might be the shortest path to this end might also be the most unlikely. Simply acquiring Evolution, MGM’s live dealer partner for BetMGM Casino and Borgata Casino, is complicated and might come at a higher cost than other options.

Evolution provides such games to some of BetMGM’s competitors. Untangling those relationships could be expensive as well as time-consuming. That expense would just add to the already likely premium that MGM would have to pay for the brand.

What’s probably more likely is that MGM will target a company that has a proprietary technology stack with which to execute live dealer content but has not yet proliferated its services on the same level as Evolution. In such an acquisition, the tech will be the real value.

Depending on the acquisition target’s profile, simply buying a solution this way could represent savings over paying contractors and/or deploying MGM staff to build a proprietary stack for live dealer games. If time is money, buying tech that someone else has already developed would represent savings for MGM as well.

Other connected actions could also point to MGM looking for a tech company to acquire. In May 2023, MGM’s LeoVegas acquired Push Gaming for its content creation tech. While Hornbuckle seemed confident that such a transaction is imminent, being “on the heels of a deal” is a relative term.

Could MGM be waiting for online casino expansion?

Continuing in his conversation at the JP Morgan conference, Hornbuckle spoke about how BetMGM can produce growth in its online casino products.

“Well, it’s a fascinating business,” Hornbuckle commented. “It, we’re in five of the six markets, three of those markets represent 60-odd percent of our total TGR in the whole company, in that company. So it is a critical piece to that business. And so the expansion every single state is a big deal. And so as we think about, if you could get to 10 or 12 states that changes that whole dynamic in a meaningful way.”

Right now, the map of states where real-money online casino play expanding to 10-12 states is anything but on the heels. Maryland is the only state making significant progress toward that goal so far in 2024. Even there, the premise is far from certain.

As that number currently stands at seven (only online poker is available in Nevada) it could be years before at least three more states join the fray. While MGM may move on a live dealer tech acquisition in the short term anyway, Hornbuckle’s comment suggests that MGM’s leadership feels the current market has matured.

From that perspective, MGM might not be feeling any urgency to make an acquisition. If the deal isn’t right, MGM could turn on its heels. What is obvious, though, is that MGM wants to eventually replace Evolution live dealer games with its own content.

Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

View all posts by Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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