MGM Mirage, the US gaming behemoth, will today launch an online casino based in the Isle of Man as a possible prelude to launching a foray into the UK gaming market.
The group, which operates some of Las Vegas’s top casinos including the MGM Grand, Bellagio and New York New York, is launching playmgmmirage.com, becoming the first big US casino operator to go live on the internet.
Oscar Nieboer, who with fellow MGM executive Lloyd Nathan has overseen the establishment of the website since it won a licence last year, said that if MGM Mirage Online was a success, the company might investigate the possibility of developing its own casinos in the UK.
Mr Nieboer said: “As a brand, we have a distinct proposition. We know how to deliver safe gaming. There are no plans at present to enter the bricks and mortar market here, but strategically you’ve got to think there’s a lot of value to be offered by a Las Vegas-style offering.”
But Mr Nieboer said much would depend on the Government’s plans for gaming deregulation in the wake of the Budd Report. One of the recommendations envisages permitting US-style gambling resorts, with Blackpool and Brighton tipped as possible venues. “If we were to do it, we’d do it big. But at this stage it’s still academic and there’s a long way to go.”
He said its online casino had been developed with the aim of replicating the experience of one of its Las Vegas venues. It offers the same games — blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps and slot machines — with the same odds and similar promotions and loyalty programmes.
“It presents the authentic Las Vegas rather than a synthetic presentation of a casino,” he said. He added that players who accumulated sufficient loyalty points would be able to earn trips to Las Vegas itself and free rooms at the MGM Grand and The Mirage.
Ironically, due to stringent US gaming laws, the website will be barred to American players. Mr Nieboer said that the website would have more stringent credit and security checks than any of its competitors as it was crucial it did not damage the brand by allowing illegal or underage players.