MGM GVC Interactive Signs First Sports Betting Deal with California Tribal Gaming Operator

Posted on: October 10, 2018, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: October 10, 2018, 09:42h.

MGM GVC Interactive has signed a deal to provide sports betting operations to the United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) in the event that California successfully legalizes sports betting.

Thanks to the deal, the United Auburn Indian Community will have the infrastructure in place to support sports betting at its Thunder Valley casino once California gets around to legalizing it, although admittedly this could take years. (Image: Thunder Valley Casino)

MGM GVC Interactive is a joint venture between the US casino giant and UK online gambling group GVC, which owns Ladbrokes Coral, Britain’s biggest retail bookmaker. The two entities joined forces in July in a bid to provide land-based and digital sports-betting solutions across the US. Each contributed $100 million to the venture, which will last 25 years.

UAIC owns the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, which is part of the Sacramento metropolitan area.

Will California Legalize Sports Betting?

In an official statement announcing the deal, MGM said it would provide “proprietary technology to enable UAIC to offer retail and mobile sports betting and online casino and poker if and when any are permitted under state law.”

It is not yet clear if California will authorize sports betting or interactive games generally, but with the overturn of PASPA possibly opening the door 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.

California has been unsuccessfully trying to legalize and regulate online poker for years, its failure largely due to opposition from the state’s powerful tribal gaming operators.

Last year, Assemblyman Adam Gray introduced an amendment calling for a public vote on the legalization of sports betting in the event federal prohibition was lifted, which duly happened in May this year. However, the state legislature has thus far failed to act on sports betting.

California Tribal Body Opposes Sport Betting

In June, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) announced it would oppose sports betting unless its concerns about card rooms offering banked card games were adressed. CNIGA said the tribes were “fed up” about perceived inaction on the part of state regulators towards the games, which they believe fall into the category of class III gaming over which they hold exclusivity.

UAIC, for one, is clearly not towing the party line. Last month, the Choctaw tribe of Mississippi became the first tribe outside Las Vegas to offer sports betting, and UIAC is just one of a growing number of tribes whose curiosity has been piqued by the opportunities presented by the US Supreme Court’s rejection of PASPA.

Meanwhile, it may be the that we don’t have to wait for the legislature to act on sports betting at all — a group called Californians for Sports Betting is taking the matter into their own hands. The group has launched a signature-gathering campaign that would place sports betting on the November ballot in 2020, if successful.