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BetMGM: sports-themed games provide a natural bridge

By - 28 February 2024

Prior to SBC Summit North America at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, Oliver Bartlett, Vice President of Gaming Product & Content at BetMGM, explains the benefits of partnering with professional sports leagues and teams, why progressive jackpots are thriving after awarding $138m across 2023 and creating a playground for new content with arcade tabs.

New and proprietary content has been a focal point to help differentiate online brands. What mediums has BetMGM been leveraging to capitalise on this demand? What mix of in-house content, aggregation and exclusive partnerships is BetMGM striving for to rapidly distribute new content?

Offering the widest and most diverse content for all segments of players is a priority. We have leveraged partnerships with professional sports leagues and teams to create over 30 games, most recently NHL Gold Blitz, the first NHL-endorsed slot game. Our relationship with our parent company MGM Resorts International gives us access to the IP of their iconic properties.

Also, we are proud to have effective strategic partnerships with the best of the B2B supplier industry to capture as much exclusive content as possible. All of this, combined with our in-house produced content, and a talented team, continues to raise the standard on a formula for success.

It is anticipated that slots and live dealer games will see the most investment in the coming years in the US market. Are these the verticals that BetMGM will mostly be concentrating its iGaming efforts?

Indeed, these are two important areas. However, we aim for a holistic approach and pay close attention to core business such as live casino and slots, while always keeping an eye on “what’s next” in iGaming and listening to player feedback. For example, our Borgata/BetMGM Arcade tabs serves as a playground for new content including Crash games and Slingo.

Many of BetMGM’s highest performing games come from in-house studios. What are the advantages of this – both for control and creative abilities – to tailor offerings for end-users in the most capital efficient manner?

We’re incredibly proud to work with Entain’s in-house game studios to develop content that can only be found at BetMGM. We have a fantastic working relationship and use our market knowledge combined with their creative game-making process to produce some fantastic titles, like the ever-popular MGM Grand Millions and newer titles such as Craps the Matrix, a perfect game for the U.S. iGaming market with a compelling Craps side bet.

MGM has millions of people in their database and much of BetMGM’s success in iGaming has been driven by cross-selling. How has BetMGM’s in-house studios used the historic and significant data it has on the gambling preference of players to create valuable content that matches those preferences?

We utilised MGM IP in games such as Mirage Mega Magma, Bellagio Fountains of Fortune, and MGM Grand Millions. It allows us to create fantastic versions of classic table games (blackjack, craps, roulette) that players from land-based casinos feel immediately comfortable playing.

BetMGM was the first online casino to debut Buffalo. How significant is IP for titles and exclusive licensing agreements, especially in the US market? How much of a selling point are they?

We were so proud to be entrusted with the privilege of launching Aristocrat’s Buffalo to the online gaming market first. It’s impossible to walk into any casino in the U.S. and not be hit by that iconic ‘Buffalo!!!!’ sound.

Games like these are vital to continue to blur the lines between land and online gaming, traditional land-based players should expect to find the games they love when they play online, and having Aristocrat available closes that gap even further. Since its launch in New Jersey in September, it has been a Top 10 grossing slot game.

BetMGM has partnered with the National Hockey League for NHL-branded casino games including roulette, blackjack, baccarat and the live money wheel game, Dream Catcher. Could you tell us more about the value you see in these kinds of agreements?

Our Partnerships team works to create multifaceted partnerships with professional sports teams and leagues. The NHL is one of the partnerships and it was a real honour to work with them to produce some beautiful table games via Evolution Gaming.

Sports-themed games provide a natural bridge between our sports bettors and our casino players, and they take pride of place in our roster of games. Notable recent releases include the world’s first NBA-branded Slot Game (NBA Gold produced by Games Global).

How does BetMGM judge a title’s value on the lobby? Is regularly refreshing the content or a consistent feel to what games are available the optimal way to engage and retain the interests of players?

I believe our industry is currently thriving with an iterative approach to new games, taking much-loved features from previous hit games, tweaking, enhancing, and then releasing even more appealing versions of games players already enjoy playing.

This is great for players, as they inherently feel a level of comfort with something they’ve experienced before, but with even more bells and whistles than the last time they played.

As an industry, we never know where the ‘next big thing’ will come from. Ultimately, it’s up to our teams to showcase our best content to the players and for the players to decide what they love.

In 2023, BetMGM awarded over $138m in progressive jackpots, with the 10 largest jackpots being won on in-house produced games. Firstly, what does this demonstrate about the allure of progressives? Secondly, how valuable are jackpots as a tool to entice consumers to play titles such as MGM Grand Millions and Bison Fury over third-party games?

Jackpots are here to stay. Walk any casino floor in Vegas and go find non-progressive games, it’s harder than it sounds! Players love big jackpots, and our numbers show that we deliver.

Our own internal network jackpot of over 25 titles provides the real headline grabbers. Over half of the $138m was won on internal games, so if players want to try and hit the largest jackpots, these games are where they go.

Plus, we are proud to offer some phenomenal third-party progressives like IGT’s Omni Jackpot across Wheel of Fortune titles in New Jersey, which is proving to be a huge hit with both our land-based and online players!

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