Penitent GVC Holdings Granted Provisional Gaming License in Nevada
Posted on: May 24, 2019, 07:00h.
Last updated on: May 24, 2019, 07:00h.
The Nevada Gaming Commission has awarded British online gambling giant GVC a provisional license to operate in the America’s gambling capital, despite the reservations set out two weeks ago by the Gaming Control Board.
The unanimous backing of the commission’s four-person panel Thursday belied a sometimes fractious hearing before the control board on May 10, where GVC CEO Kenny Alexander was berated by at least one board member for the company’s business practices and legally gray operations around the world, Turkey in particular.
While the control board had ultimately recommended licensing for GVC by 2-1, the lone objection by board member Terry Johnson was enough to make the company sweat Thursday’s licensing hearing.
ROAR Digital at Stake
There was a lot at stake. GVC has entered into a joint venture with MGM Resorts for online sports betting, ROAR Digital, with each investing $100 million into the project.
Together, they plan to corner the emerging US digital sports betting market — but rebuttal in Nevada would almost certainly jeopardize its ability to receive licensing in other US jurisdictions.
According to CDC Gaming Reports, the company’s representatives took several minutes to apologize for their behavior and conduct at the control board meeting. GVC Chairman Lee Feldman said Alexander had apologized to the NGCB and to Johnson individually for how he reacted to the line of questioning.
Feldman added that GVC had reviewed and upgraded its compliance policies in order to address the control board’s concerns.
Johnson’s questioning of Alexander had largely focused on the Turkish operations, which the company offloaded for free last year to help smooth the passage of its takeover of Ladbrokes-Coral, after some financial backers baulked over the illegality of online gambling in the country.
Johnson said that the Turkish business was so badly overseen that some of its employees were siphoning off money.
People … were defrauding you and because you were engaged in questionable activity, you were without much recourse to go after them because of what you yourself were doing as a company,” said Johnson, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
No Egg on Face, Please
But the Gaming Commission was in a gentler mood. Commission member John Moran Jr. said that it’s always a red flag when a board member votes no, but GVC had given a “good presentation” and satisfactorily answered a lot of his questions.
“The test is going to see if, in fact, the trust you’re asking us to give you … if we’re going to get egg on our face,” he said, according to LVRJ. “I want to see you go forward and prosper within the confines of the law.”
Under the terms of the provisional license, GVC’s operations will be reassessed by regulators in two years. GVC must also pay the board $100,000 to go towards future investigations into its compliance procedures.