Michigan to Launch Online Sports Betting on January 22

Odds Board and Money

Bettors in the Wolverine State will finally be able to place legal online sports bets on January 22 after officials revealed the launch on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Michigan Gaming Control Board authorized nine gambling operators to start accepting online sports bets at noon of Friday, January 22nd. Per MGCB executive director Richard S. Kalm:

“The Michigan Gaming Control Board and the state’s commercial and tribal casinos will begin a new era Jan. 22 with the launch of regulated online gaming and sports betting. Michigan residents love sports and, judging by inquiries we’ve received, eagerly anticipate using mobile devices to place bets through the commercial and tribal casinos. Online gaming and sports betting will provide the casinos with new ways to engage with customers while the state and local communities will benefit from taxes and payments on wagering revenue.”

Just in Time For the NFL Conference Championship Games

Michigan legalized sports betting in 2019 but up until 11:59 a.m. of Friday, January 22nd, punters had to place their bets in person at retail venues. However, that will change later this week with the launch of legal Michigan online sports betting which is just in time for Sunday’s NFL Conference championship games.

The nine legal Michigan online sports betting operators that are set to go live on Friday are DraftKings, WilliamHill, FanDuel, Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Rush Street, BetMGM, Wynn, and Barstool Sports. According to the MGCB, more operators are expected to receive authorization in the coming weeks.

A Lucrative Revenue Source

Friday’s launch comes 12 months after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill to legalize online gambling in the Wolverine State. The commencement of legal Michigan sports betting should be a lucrative revenue source for the state’s casino industry which struggled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three casinos in Detroit saw a 56% decrease in combined annual revenue in 2020. The MGCB says that legal Michigan sports betting and online gaming could be a way for casinos to make up for the losses they suffered due to the pandemic. At the same time, it will generate tax revenue for Detroit and the state.

Online Tax Rates

Legal Michigan online sports betting will be taxed at 8.4% which is one of the lowest in the United States. The tax rate and payment rate for internet gaming ranges from 20% to 28%. For Detroit casinos, 30% of all online gambling taxes will be allocated to the city while 65% will be allocated to the state Internet Sports Betting Fund or the state Internet Gaming Fund. The other 5% will go the Michigan Agriculture Equine Industry Development, capped at $3M per year from each tax source.

Meanwhile, 90% of legal Michigan online sports betting tax collections of Tribal casinos will go to the Internet Sports Betting Fund while 10% will go to the Michigan Strategic Fund. As for Tribal online gaming payments, 20 % will go to local jurisdiction governing body for services, 70% to the Internet Gaming Fund, and 10% to the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Las Vegas Sands to Throw Hat in SportsBetting Arena

Las Vegas Sands Casinos

Las Vegas Sands is making a push into sports betting. A report from Bloomberg last week said that its acting chief executive officer Robert Goldstein is in the early stages of private talks with potential partners in the sports betting industry.

The company has long operated a retail sportsbook at its Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas. However, these were outsourced to Cantor Gaming which is now a part of William Hill US, which in turn was acquired by Sands’ rival Caesars Entertainment Inc.

One of the strongest Balance Sheets

Often praised by industry analysts as having one of the strongest balance sheets among peer casino operators, Las Vegas Sands has enough resources to become a big player in the sports betting industry. It has a market capitalization of $44.42B and if Adelson’s proposal to sell the Venetian, Palazzo, and Sands Convention Center in the Las Vegas Strip, that would potentially be another $6B of assets.

Las Vegas Sands is the biggest casino company in the world. However, it is the only United States-based casino operator which has not yet adopted a sports betting plan despite the U.S. sports betting market expanding rapidly since the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 over two years ago.

Adelson’s Opposition to Online Gaming

Venturing into sports betting may mean embracing online gaming which has often come along with it. It can be recalled that Las Vegas Sands founder and longtime CEO Sheldon Adelson, who recently took a medical leave of absence, was always opposed to online gaming. The billionaire has always been among those who lobbied to prevent the legalization of online betting based on moral ground. Adelsen believed that online games like virtual slots made it very easy for players to lose money.

But like all the other casino operators, Las Vegas Sands is struggling to cope with the limitations brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has substantially affected the casino industry since March 2020. Even Sands’ properties outside the U.S. like Macau and Singapore are struggling with their bottom line figures. With no end to the pandemic yet in sight, online gaming has been viewed as one of the best ways for land-based casinos to diversify operations and generate more income.

MGM Resorts Announces $750M Public Offering of Senior Notes

Outside of MGM in Las VegasLast week, MGM Resorts International announced a $750M public offering of senior notes due in 2028. The move is seen as an act from MGM to boost its liquidity with the company suffering significant losses this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per an official statement from MGM:

“The notes being offered will be general unsecured senior obligations of the Company, guaranteed by substantially all of the Company’s wholly owned domestic subsidiaries that guarantee the Company’s other senior indebtedness, and equal in right of payment with all existing or future senior unsecured indebtedness of the Company and each guarantor.”

An Increase From $500M

Last Thursday, MGM initially announced plans for a public offering of $500M in aggregate amount of 4.750% senior notes due in 2028 at par. The gambling company later upsized the original aggregate principal to $750M. The transaction is expected to close on October 13, 2020 but subject to customary closing conditions.

BofA Securities, Inc., J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Barclays Capital Inc., Citigroup Global Markets Inc., BNP Paribas Securities Corp., Citizens Capital Markets, Inc., Fifth Third Securities, Inc., Scotia Capital (USA) Inc. and SMBC Nikko Securities America, Inc. will act as joint book-running managers and Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc., Truist Securities, Inc., Comerica Securities, Inc. and Union Gaming Securities, LLC will act as co-managers for the proposed offering.

According to a press released from MGM, the company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering of the notes for general corporate purposes. This could include the refinancing of existing debts and investment in short-term interest-bearing accounts and/or securities.

Significant Losses

Last June 30th, MGM’s total indebtedness was valued at $11.4B. This included an aggregate of $3.7B at the MGP Operating Partnership and an outstanding balance of $2.5B at MGM China. The company’s liquidity was placed at $8.1B and these consisted of cash, cash equivalent, and amounts under its revolving credit facilities.

For the second quarter of 2020, MGM reported a net loss of $857M which was a stark contrast from the $43M income in posted for the period of April-June 2019. Likewise, diluted loss per share was at $1.67 as compared to earnings of $0.08 per share for the second quarter of last year. For the first half of 2020, MGM reported a total net loss of $50.4M. During the same period last year, the company posted a net income of $74.9M

The company is set to release its third quarter results later this month. But despite their casinos returning for operations after months of stoppage, the company is expecting significant losses due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent imposition of health and safety measures.

BetMGM Doing Well

But while MGM’s land-based casinos have struggled due the pandemic, MGM’s online betting venture BetMGM is doing well and continues to show significant growth with punters shifting to online gamblig during these pandemic-hit times.

In a trading update released by GVC last week, BetMGM is performing better than expected so far for the current year. The estimated net revenue for 2020 is now in the vicinity of $150M-$160M. MGM’s betting app is now live in a total of 8 states and has captured a market of 17% in those areas.

MGM and GVC launched BetMGM in 2018 and relaunched it last year with a new platform. The new look seemed to work and aided by the pandemic, it has doubled its market share in Las Vegas to 22% from the start of the year through August 2020. In New Jersey, BetMGM also captured 10% of the market share in online sports betting and 24% of retail sports betting.

Fox Founder Barry Diller Invests $1B in MGM

MGM Resorts International Logo
MGM Resorts International got a huge boost after Fox Broadcasting founder Barry Diller invested $1B in the gaming giant.

Diller’s IAC/Interactive said on Monday that it had bought a 12% stake in the MGM Resorts International. In a letter to the shareholders, Diller wrote that the gambling operator’s online gaming business was initially what attracted him. Said Diller:

“We believe MGM presented a ‘once in a decade’ opportunity for IAC to own a meaningful piece of a preeminent brand in a large category with great potential to move online.”

Interest In Online Gaming Business

Diller added that he has followed the online gaming business for a while and his company has been looking for a venue to enter the $450B industry. MGM’s online gaming business comprises just a small portion of its revenue but in his letter, Diller said that it is poised to thrive and develop.

“MGM also is an aspirational brand, which could be delivered with daily accessibility and offer gaming consumers (including the 34 million M-life Rewards members) a wider range of services, both physical and digital, than any competitor.”

MGM Resorts and the U.K. based sports betting giant GVC Holdings partnered to form Roar Digital in 2018, with each company investing $100M. Their product is the BetMGM app which is currently live in seven states and is expected to be available to a total of 11 by the end of 2020.

Last July MGM and GVC put in an additional investment totalling $250M. BetMGM’s progress has lagged but it is expected to accelerate, especially with IAC coming up with a $1B investment in MGM.

MGM’s Shares Soar

Diller’s purchase comes at a time when when the gambling industry has been severely affected by the government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the people’s fears about mass gatherings.

MGM saw its entire U.S. fleet of two dozen resorts in six states close at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last March. All of its regional casinos have reopened except Empire City in New York while only The Mirage and Park MGM in Las Vegas are still closed.

MGM shares, which are traded in the New York Stock Exchange, closed up $2.62, 13.8% on volume or more than two-and-a-half times the daily average on the news of the deal. It retreated by $20 cents, 0.9 percent to end at $21.45 per share. Early trading saw the shares peak at $23.76 per share.

IAC Background

IAC acquired more than 59 million shares of MGM Resorts International over a nine-week period starting from the start of June 2020. The $1B purchase took some 34 stock transactions to be complete.

The 78-year old Diller founded Fox Broadcasting Co. and USA Broadcasting. He is currently ranked 168 in the Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $3B. Diller founded IAC in 1995 and is also the chairman of online travel titan Expedia, which acquired its holding company Liberty Expedia in 2019 for $2.6B.

IAC is a New York-based investment company with vast experience in media and online commerce. The portfolio of IAC includes Vimeo, Dotdash, and Care.com. It also owns a majority stake in ANGI Homeservices whose products include HomeAdvisor, Handy, and Angie’s List.