MGM Resorts Behind Let NY Play Online Poker Campaign

Posted on October 15th, 2014 by Daniel Ryder
Let NY Play MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts is the mystery force behind a new Let NY Play social media campaign to legalize New York State online poker. (Image: Let NY Play Twitter page logo)

MGM Resorts International is hoping that it can organize a push to regulate online poker in New York. According to a report in The New York Times, MGM has been behind a recent campaign that is seeking to drum up support for regulated Internet poker in the state, one that has started to gain support on social media.

The campaign, known as Let NY Play, has been drumming up support for the past few weeks from New Yorkers who would like the chance to play poker online in a regulated environment. But until the Times report, it wasn’t clear who was actually spearheading the campaign.

MGM Supports Online Poker Regulation

MGM has been one of the leading industry voices for legal, regulated online poker in the United States, putting it on the side of companies like Caesars Entertainment, the operators behind the popular WSOP.com site, and opposed to the efforts to ban online gambling by Sheldon Adelson and his allies. The company also has experience in the online poker world, as it owns half of the Borgata, which operates the most successful Internet gaming network in New Jersey.

The messages from Let NY Play often references this New Jersey experience. The overall message appears to be that if New Jersey players could play online poker, why not those in New York as well?

Lobbying Campaign in New York Ongoing

It’s a message that MGM has been promoting in the state for some time now. The casino firm has been actively lobbying in Albany for online poker legislation, such as the bill that was sponsored by New York State Senator John Bonacic (R-Catskills) earlier this year. That effort never gained much traction, which came as little surprise to online poker supporters, who saw it more as a way to raise awareness around the issue.

Bonacic warned MGM officials that it could be a long time before an effort to regulate online poker in New York would prove successful. MGM commissioned a study that found that the state could earn up to $80 million in tax revenues from online poker, though Bonacic also said that the early numbers might be far more modest.

That would come as no surprise to MGM, which has seen revenues in New Jersey fall far short of the projections that were bandied about by government officials before the games went live.

“It’s been a little bit slower to start than some had expected,” MGM executive vice president Alan Feldman told the Times. “But we think over time it’s going to be exactly what they did expect and more.”

In New Jersey, most of the money generated by online gambling comes from casino games, rather than from Internet poker. But for now, MGM is only hoping to bring poker to New York, as they feel there will be less resistance on that front.

“The reality is that poker is the one [online game] whose business model is already established and the one that would be the most acceptable and appropriate, certainly from a political point of view,” Feldman said.

This effort comes at a time when New York is also looking to expand its casino gambling profile, with four licenses for upstate casinos expected to be awarded later this year. MGM is not applying for any of those licenses.

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