GVC Holdings Receives Nevada Gaming License Approval

GVC Holdings Nevada License - Bwin Party Nevada Online Poker

PGCB member Terry Johnson (pictured) grilled GVC Holdings CEO Kenneth Alexander about his Ladbrokes Turkey decisions.

Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) gave Euro online-gambling giant GVC Holdings conditional approval on several different fronts. One of those is for an interactive gaming license that is expected to bring the return of the PartyPoker brand to Nevada.

GVC Holdings received approval to operate in Nevada for the first time. Meanwhile, GVC’s licensing means partypoker could return to Nevada for the first time since 2006, when the US Congress enacted the UIGEA law.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board met with several of GVC’s key executives in their bi-monthly business hearing where they addressed licensing matters involving GVC. Among those interviewed was GVC’s CEO Kenneth Alexander. Regardless of contested issues by Terry Johnson in the May 8 interview, GVC was able to walk away with a conditional approval for its Bwin.Party (USA) entity.

Bwin is the parent company of GVC’s PartyPoker operations, which include the online-poker and -gambling portion of GVC as well as the MGM-owned Borgata in New Jersey. MGM has been in recent works with GVC with discussions of potential casino partners. However, MGM Resorts is not the only operator that GVC Holdings might partner with in Nevada.

Ladbrokes Coral Group

The GVC also received conditional approval from the NGCB to partner with Ladbrokes Coral Group as their intermediary company. This could push GVC to push their partnership with casinos. The Ladbrokes brand might possibly to put in to compete with the William Hill sportsbooks and kiosks currently running in the state.

PartyPoker Licensing Possible

GVC still has a long road ahead of them and the process to kick off its PartyPoker brand. PartyPoker will be required to apply for a full license. The company has two years before that time comes.

Once two years pass, the Party brand will be handed back to the state, which was last available to Nevada residents as a grey-market offering by the old PartyGaming.

Back in 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act forced many UK and European poker sites out of the US market. PartyPoker, one of the biggest card sites on the Internet at the time, was one of those companies. It was a huge blow to the company’s revenues.

Party Poker Return to Nevada?

Since then, PartyPoker has seen several different owners. Its current owner, GVC Holdings, has grown over from a mid-sized company into an online gaming giant. GVC now owns major brands, including Bwin, Party, Ladbrokes, Coral, Gala, SportingBet, and EuroBet.

Due to their now more diverse group, they have acquired a certain number of grey-market gaming sites, or at least sites that work in the gray market outside of North America and Europe. To gain licensing in the United States and other major marketplaces, GVC Holdings continues to tweak its business model, hoping to become a purely white-market operator.

GVC and Ladbrokes Turkey

Terry Johnson, a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, questioned Kenneth Alexander and other GVC execs about their presence in Turkey. When GVC acquired Ladbrokes’, it inherited Ladbrokes’ Turkey operations, which NGCB members considered “shoddy”.

Kenneth Alexander explained that GVC Holdings weighed their options in Turkey, then ultimately walked away from the Turkish market. That was not the decision in every case.

According to reports in the gaming media, GVC Holdings was in no hurry to cut loose some untrustworthy operations. In fact, one prominent media outlet alleged GVC falsified certain Turkish-based credit-card transactions in order to cover up continuing gray market activities.

Terry Johnson Grills Kennetth Alexander

Terry Johnson brought up the subject of internal fraud with Alexander. Johnson, who claimed fraud was endemic, said to Alexander, “People were actually stealing from you. They 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.”

“I’m actually surprised at the glossing over what has transpired with these payment transactions, particularly as it related to the essence of regulated gaming here in Nevada.”

Kenneth Alexander Defends Record

Johnson also criticized Mr. Alexander’s supposed lack of responsibility as an executive. The PGCB member said, “I’m at a loss to understand where exactly did the buck stop in the company if it didn’t stop with you. [How] are we to be assured that going forward you’re going to be at the helm of this company in a different manner than what transpired over the past several years?”

Despite the lack of support from Terry Johnson, GVC Holdings managed to walk away victors with the 2-1 split decision. Mr. Johnson was the dissenting vote. Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan and Phil Katsaros found in favor of GVC’s Nevada gaming license. Both agreed that GVC had done enough to earn conditional approval.