What Is Vigtory Sportsbook And When Will It Launch In New Jersey?

The pending launch of the Vigtory Sportsbook app in New Jersey could happen soon. But what makes it different from the rest?

New NJ sports betting licensees continue to pop up in the Garden State. One of the next potential new operators is the Vigtory Sportsbook.

As the name suggests, the main differentiator for this company is its industry-low vig. It intends to use that to attract a certain segment of NJ bettors.

The details on Vigtory Sportsbook

Vigtory is based in Chicago but plans to make New Jersey its first market. Co-CEO Scott Butera, who most recently worked for MGM Interactive before joining Vigtory, told Play NJ the regulatory approval is done.

Although he is not disclosing the company’s land-based partner yet, Butera says he hopes to start taking bets in NJ sometime in November 2020. He says the app will be available for both Android and iOS devices.

The product will include more than just sports betting. In addition to live dealer games, poker, slots and other online table games, Vigtory has a deal with Sportradar to offer live data and streaming of certain events.

Perhaps the biggest draw for bettors to the app, however, will be its low vig. Vig is the term in the sports betting industry that refers to the interest a sportsbook has in your wager.

Think of it as the price that a sportsbook charges you for providing the entertainment. Vigtory plans to cut that cost to entice higher-end bettors.

Vigtory’s take on NJ sports betting market

Butera lays out the strategy quite clearly. He hopes the lower vig will pull in higher-end bettors and make regular customers out of them.

“What we’re looking to do is create a sports betting experience for the true sports bettor,” said Butera.

“DraftKings and FanDuel have done a great job of developing very strong databases through fantasy sports then converting those players to sports bettors. We think there’s an underserved market for folks that are sports bettors of a higher dollar amount. Whereas a fantasy player might be betting $30, $40, $50 a bet on average, our bettors will be betting, you know, high hundreds to the low thousands.”

Butera went on to explain that the app will also offer specialty content and customized analytics for users. The company plans to offer high-end perks for loyal customers, like event tickets, fan experiences and merchandise.

Additionally, Butera is bullish on the book building out a robust offering of live and prop wagers. That’s another way he thinks Vigtory can differentiate itself.

A plethora of props and lots of live bets

Butera believes offering the markets high-end bettors want is key to Vigtory’s success. He draws upon his Las Vegas experience for his insight.

“The idea is to have enough product offerings so that you can make up it for if somebody happens to be sharp,” Butera explained. “The Super Bowl last year is a pretty interesting example of what I’m talking about.

“For the Super Bowl, Vegas ended up winning like $15 to $20 million. New Jersey ended up losing, I think $6 million. The betting could have been different. What was different was the number of props that were offered.”

Butera also sees the analytics and content as a way to drive in-game wagering.

“You’re sitting there and a Patriots fan and you see an opportunity to bet on Cam Newton getting 200 yards passing. The odds just went from 4:1 to 6:1. They transact on that, whereas if they never saw it, they wouldn’t even think of it.”

Whether Vigtory’s unique approach will prove successful in New Jersey remains to be seen. What seems more certain, however, is that the experiment will begin soon.

At Long Last, Borgata Atlantic City Set To Reopen On July 26

Borgata’s plans were delayed by a change in dining rules, but by the end of the month, all nine Atlantic City casinos will again be open for business.

The weekend before July Fourth was a big one in Atlantic City. That’s when the casinos started to reopen — but not all of them. Borgata Atlantic City remained closed.

But by the end of the month, all nine casinos will have their doors open. Borgata AC has slated its reopening for July 26.

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Borgata reopening originally delayed

The decision to delay Borgata’s reopening stemmed from Gov. Phil Murphy’s walk-back from restarting indoor dining just before the holiday.

The change in dining availability forced the MGM-owned Borgata to break away from the other Atlantic City casinos and wait to open when it could offer guests a more complete experience.

“We feel it best that we remain closed until such time that the governor lets us know it is safe to offer food and beverage,” said MGM Resorts International in a June 29 statement.

Now, three weeks later, the Borgata plans to reopen to the public after a soft invite-only reopening.

“Following the governor’s directive to postpone indoor dining, we took a step back to reassess our reopening date to ensure we could give our guests the world-class experience they expect from us, safely,” said Melonie Johnson, president and chief operating officer of Borgata, in a press release.

Safety plan in place for Borgata reopening

The Borgata will be following the seven-point safety plan instituted by MGM at all of its properties.

The plan includes enhanced cleaning schedules, required masks for all guests and employees, temperature checks and digital food and drink menus.

All Borgata employees will have gone through COVID-19-specific training. The resort will be following the state-mandated 25% capacity rule.

The casino’s Race & Sports Book will be open along with table games, but poker will be unavailable during this first phase.

Other changes for guests include:

  • Limited rooms available for reservations.
  • Disabling every other slot machine.
  • No eating, drinking or smoking inside.

The Borgata’s retail stores will also be open, and self-parking will be available. Valet parking will not be offered during the reopening.

Borgata AC to offer improved takeout dining options

Like the other casinos in Atlantic City, the Borgata will not be able to offer guests indoor dining. But the casino has come up with multiple options that will please guests.

The Borgata has expanded its outdoor dining offerings to give guests more options. Besides its existing beer, the resort will be offering food and beer trucks along with the brand-new Sunbar at the Water Club, a hotel connected to the Borgata.

To help with social distancing, menus will be offered via QR code, and guests will be notified that their table is ready via text messaging.

Another way that the resort will be offering guests food and drinks is through a new program called BorgataEATS. It allows takeout and delivery orders to be made at the Borgata’s many eateries that guests can eat in their room as well as at home.

In addition to BorgataEATS and expanded outdoor dining, the resort will be offering 24/7 in-room service for hotel guests along with grab-and-go options from a store in the resort such as Borgata Baking Company, Starbucks and The Marketplace Eatery.

“When we reopen, Borgata will introduce new outdoor dining experiences, as well as a convenient takeout program from several of our fine and casual dining outlets,” Johnson said.

“We appreciate our guests’ and employees’ patience and understanding and look forward to welcoming them back.”

At long last, the top-performing Atlantic City casino will be up and running. Welcome back, Borgata.

MGM And Buffalo Wild Wings Now Serving Up A Sports Betting Partnership

Buffalo Wild Wings’ deal with MGM will feature “sports gaming experiences” and BetMGM (PlayMGM) live odds while dining at the sports bar in NJ and beyond.

Your gameday visit to Buffalo Wild Wings just got a bit more interesting.

On Sept. 5, Buffalo Wild Wings announced a multi-year partnership with MGM Resorts International and its sports betting venture Roar Digital.

Roar is the 50/50 venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings.

The deal includes “sports gaming experiences” inside Buffalo Wild Wings locations via MGM’s NJ sports betting app, BetMGM (the rebranded playMGM).

And the timing of the announcement coincides with tonight’s NFL regular-season kickoff between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. The Bears are a 3.5-point favorite.

Jim Murren, MGM Resorts chairman and CEO, said the partnership is “an important development in MGM and Roar’s position as the leader in sports and entertainment betting.”

“With more than 1,200 sports bars across the country, Buffalo Wild Wings is firmly established as a ‘go to’ venue for sports viewing in all of its markets. Adding access to MGM’s world class properties and the BetMGM mobile app will create unique customer experiences and redefine how fans enjoy sports,” said Murren.

What the future holds (besides blazin’ wings)

To be fair, this partnership is only in the first quarter.

However, customers at New Jersey’s 12+ Buffalo Wild Wings locations and the more than 1,200 locations in the US will start noticing the viewing experience change this week.

For instance, all those TV screens will now include custom sportsbook content such as live odds provided by BetMGM.

In New Jersey, plans include a sports betting test program later this year.

What that program will look like is still an unknown, but you can expect exclusive perks, such as enhanced odds and free bets, when the BetMGM app is accessed inside Buffalo Wild Wings.

That program will expand to other states as legislation allows.

So besides enjoying wings and beers, NJ sports betting customers will likely be betting and dining simultaneously. After all, you can log in and bet on the BetMGM app (or any app) from inside the restaurant. (But heads up: You won’t be seeing MGM-branded self-betting kiosks on property.)

Here are some of the BetMGM point spreads for Sunday’s NFL betting (as of Sept. 5):

  • Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5) versus Washington Redskins
  • New York Jets (-2.5) versus Buffalo Bills
  • New York Giants (+7.5) versus Dallas Cowboys
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5) versus New England Patriots

Nationwide free football game included

Did we mention the partnership includes Pick and Props?

This free-to-play, mobile-only football game is available across the country starting today.

And it includes those states where legislation has yet to be approved.

The game is described as a “seamless sports betting-like experience with no stakes attached.”

Players can win a trip to Borgata in Atlantic City to compete in the first BetMGM sports betting competition (details to be announced).

Others may walk away with a trip to Las Vegas (placing a parlay bet on the Big Game is optional).

Here’s how you can play:

  • Download the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ Rewards app
  • Make game picks based on the spread, answer prop questions, and choose top fantasy performers for the week.
  • Fans can play anywhere, but you must check-in at a Buffalo Wild Wings between Thursday and Sunday to be eligible for prizes.

The partnership is the first of its kind, but Buffalo Wild WIngs does have a fantasy sports relationship with DraftKings that was finalized a year ago in August.

For Lyle Tick, president of Buffalo Wild Wings, this new partnership provides the “opportunity to pioneer sports gaming experiences for fans, and we are taking the first critical step on that journey through our partnership with BetMGM.

“This is a landmark relationship between two preeminent experience brands that puts us in a position to innovate the current sports watching experience to bring the best of sports gaming to our guests.”

MGM’s CEO Sounds Off On ‘Perplexing’ New Wire Act Opinion

MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren weighs in on the Wire Act: “It’s just we think an absurdly, poorly written and unenforceable opinion.”

The Department of Justice’s new interpretation of the Wire Act does not have too many fans.

Count Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, among them. He addressed the controversial topic during the company’s earnings call on Wednesday.

Murren doesn’t sugarcoat things either.

“This latest missive from the DOJ, perplexing is an understatement.

And if read as words, it would mean that Powerball as it exists in 44 states in the United States isn’t legal anymore. It’s just we think an absurdly, poorly written and unenforceable opinion. I don’t think anyone in the industry, the gaming industry or the sports betting industry, feels any differently [in the wake of the opinion].” 

MGM is all in with NJ online gambling, sports betting

If strictly enforced, the opinion could have far-reaching effects on all sections of legal online gambling in the US. The uncertainty, therefore, is real for MGM.

The MGM-owned Borgata in Atlantic City is fully invested in the NJ mobile online sports betting and online gambling industries.

The PlayMGM Sports app was one of the first to join the NJ sports betting market on Aug. 22.

Borgata also has four NJ online gambling brands under its license.

Murren isn’t alone in his thinking

Last week, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued a press release stating that the new opinion is “wrong” and “deeply troubling.” Joining him in the “strong opposition” was Josh ShapiroPennsylvania’s attorney general.

The joint letter follows a string of opposition to the opinion from all corners of the US gambling market. The lottery, as well as individual states like Massachusetts, have decried the recent opinion.

For its part, NJ and PA asked that the administration either withdraw the new opinion or “guarantee that DOJ will not bring enforcement actions against companies in our states that are acting lawfully under state statutes.”

The two-plus page letter addressed to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein includes a number of pressing issues. Among them is in regards to interstate transmission of information that is “merely incidental,” according to the letter.

“The opinion casts doubt not only on traditional online gaming, but also multi-state lottery drawings (such as Power Ball and Mega Millions) and online sales of in-state lottery tickets. While regulators and the industry are reviewing the full range of impacts this opinion may have, each potential implication is of concern.”

As such, Murren’s comment follows a similar path.

NJ online gambling is in the billions

The previous Wire Act opinion helped clear the path to launch NJ online gambling in 2013.

The industry has generated more than $1 billion in its five-plus years of existence.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released the latest figures on Wednesday, and the monthly figures shattered the $30 million mark setting a new all-time record in the process.

NJ sports betting continues to set records, too.

January’s reported handle came in at $385 million. But the majority of that number came from NJ online sports betting — $304,973,986 to be exact.

David Rebuck, director of the DGE, believes the current regulatory model is fine the way it is.

“New Jersey has regulated online gaming for five years and has developed the most successful regulatory model in the world. The State is fully committed to maintaining and ensuring the highest regulatory standards for New Jersey’s evolving online gaming industry, including the most recent addition of sports wagering.”

In other words, with so much at stake, MGM may not be the only gambling company to question the OLC opinion.

MGM Loads The Bases, Becomes ‘Official Gaming Partner’ Of MLB

MGM Resorts strikes a deal with the MLB to become its official gaming partner. MGM now has deals in place with three of the four major US sports leagues.

Three of the four major professional sports leagues in the US have now partnered with MGM Resorts International.

Major League Baseball on Tuesday announced “the formation of an all-inclusive partnership agreement” with MGM, according to a press release.

The agreement “combines the MLB brand with MGM Resorts and playMGM brands across league and team sponsorships,” per the release. Also included are data usage in gaming, promotion across MLB-owned media platforms and “domestic and international activations at MLB events.”

As such, this multiyear agreement makes MGM the “Official Gaming Partner of MLB” and “Official Entertainment Partner of MLB.”

What’s included in the MGM-MLB deal

In joining MLB’s corner, MGM now has an avenue to promote its brand and gaming options throughout the league’s digital and broadcast platforms.

Included are MLB NetworkMLB.com, the MLB At Bat app and any additional “fan engagement offerings” that would be “jointly developed” by the MLB and MGM.

The partnership also makes MGM an “MLB-Authorized Gaming Operator” while using the league’s official statistics feeds on its digital and live sports betting options. Such usage, the MLB specifically noted, would be on a nonexclusive basis.

That said, according to the release, the MLB will make “enhanced statistics” available to MGM on an exclusive basis.

The agreement also sets up the league and MGM to collaborate on comprehensive responsible gaming measures while working to “protect the integrity of the game both on and off the field.”

Additionally, MGM has authority to use MLB intellectual property in advertising and promotions. To boot, this little nugget:

“MGM also will broaden its commitment to baseball by securing multiple MLB Club partnerships.”

What they’re saying

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his pleasure to join forces with MGM, which he dubbed as “a clear industry leader in the sports gaming area.”

With this partnership, he said, the league and MGM will be able to work together to bring “innovative experiences” to fans and MGM customers.

Manfred added:

“Our partnership with MGM will help us navigate this evolving space responsibly, and we look forward to the fan engagement opportunities ahead.”

Jim Murren, MGM chairman and CEO, noted that the two new partners will create a “one-of-a-kind fan experience.”

“Combining MGM Resorts’ world class entertainment and technology with MLB data will continue to transform a rapidly changing industry. This partnership further amplifies the significance of our GVC JV, firmly establishing MGM Resorts and playMGM as the market leader in partnerships with major professional sports leagues.”

The news was noted by many in the industry, including the American Gaming AssociationSara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA, commented:

“Agreements between sports leagues and the gaming industry enable all sports stakeholders to work together to eliminate the illegal sports betting market. With MLB’s announcement today, three major sports leagues now have official sports betting partners – evidence of our continued commitment to protecting the integrity of both consumers and sporting competitions and that contracts remain preferential to statutes in all sports betting deals.”

MGM adds to its partnership portfolio

A day after hinting at a partnership, noting a “major sports gaming announcement” coming, the MLB did what many speculated: MGM will partner with the MLB.

Murren noted the “historic” deal. Within the last few months, though, MGM has landed similar partnerships.

In July, a month before rolling out its playMGM mobile product for sports betting in New Jersey, MGM entered into a partnership agreement with the NBA.

Then, in October, the company did the same with the NHL.

With three of the four biggest professional sports leagues in North America secured, a new question arises:

When does the NFL enter the fold?

Reports Say MGM Might Be Eyeing Caesars With A Possible Merger

MGM might be lawyering up to merge with Caesars. Plenty of issues could derail a merger of the two gambling giants, including other interested companies.

Caesars has had a troubling few years.

Much of the company has spent time in bankruptcy protection, and now CEO Mark Frissora is leaving the company.

That makes Caesars look vulnerable, and just maybe that creates an opportunity for MGM.

The New York Post reports that according to sources, “MGM has hired investment bank Morgan Stanley and law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges” to analyze the idea of a merger.

Those sources also say that some of Caesars’ biggest hedge fund investors are backing the idea.

MGM and Caesars own a third of the New Jersey casinos

Any merger would create a very powerful presence in the US gaming industry. Caesars is worth about $22 billion with MGM at around $30 billion.

In New Jersey, Caesars owns three of the nine licensed casinos: Harrah’s, Bally’s, and Caesars. MGM now owns 100 percent of the Borgata after buying out Boyd Gaming.

Put them together and they would own one-third of the Atlantic City casino market.

In Nevada, the situation is similar, but the numbers are bigger. Between the two companies, they own most of the Las Vegas Strip — more than 30 properties in total, excluding golf courses.

Concentrating that much of the industry into the hands of one company will make regulators sit up and take notice.

Local monopoly, national influence, international presence

Market concentration is a concern at the state level, but federal regulators are unlikely to see a bigger issue.

Both companies operate across the US, but not across all states. In fact, MGM’s recent partnership with Boyd Gaming only gives it direct access to 15 states worth of real money gambling.

As sports betting spreads, MGM with its partners GVC and Boyd plans to expand everywhere it legally can.

Caesars has expressed the same strategic intent with its partner Scientific Games.

But that expansion is in the face of tough competition.

Expansion in sports betting

Paddy Power Betfair, now the owner of FanDuel, the Meadowlands NJ sports betting provider, is following a similar go-everywhere strategy.

CEO Peter Jackson told investors when presenting Q3 results that FanDuel is already active in 41 states. And they aim to be competitive in all states where legal sports betting is allowed.

In fact, all the big European gaming operators have taken a position on US sports betting expansion.

Internationally, the presence of Caesars and MGM is actually rather thin. Caesars operates in Canada, South Africa, Egypt, and the UK. MGM has gambling businesses in six Chinese locations including Macau.

There’s an easy argument that merging Caesars and MGM would create a more internationally competitive group.

Sell off Nevada casinos? Maybe

If regulators did kick up a stink, it’s unlikely that it would be in New Jersey.

Four out of nine casinos would not create the kind of monopoly pricing power that would worry the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

As for online gambling, there are more than 25 licensed NJ gambling sites, sports betting and poker sites. And many of them have partnerships with foreign brands.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) may have more serious concerns. But at worst it would require no more than a combined group divest itself of some Strip properties.

At that point, there’s a math problem. What tradeoff would actually work for MGM and Caesars?

Both companies are heavily reliant on Nevada for their revenues. They may well be diversified elsewhere, but Las Vegas is still the jewel in their respective crowns.

Having to sell any properties in Nevada might actually be a deal breaker.

What about Wynn and Caesars? Or anyone else?

The New York Post also pitched Wynn Resorts, the Genting Group, and private equity firm the Blackstone Group as potential buyers.

Wynn would generate fewer concerns over market concentration in Nevada. The company is expanding in Las Vegas and building a new casino in Boston, but taking over management of Caesars’ large property portfolio might be biting off more than it can chew.

The Genting Group is a Malaysian gaming company with several Resorts World Casinos in the US. It would be no surprise if it decided to expand in the US through acquisition.

The company has a large global presence already with casinos in:

  • Malaysia
  • United Kingdom
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Philippines
  • Korea
  • China

Blackstone is a different beast entirely. It is one of the world’s largest private equity investors and a natural replacement for one of the existing hedge fund owners of Caesars.

But would it be interested in Caesars with its current strategy? Maybe not.

Rivalry in New Jersey and beyond

While speculation is fun, Caesars is not an easy takeover target. No matter how much its private owners might want to sell, finding the right partner will not be easy.

Barely a week ago, Caesars rejected a proposal to merge with Golden Nugget. Caesars is still carrying a lot of debt, so any partner needs to be flush with cash.

New Jersey players can expect the rivalry between Caesars and the Borgata in Atlantic City to continue, at least for the time being.