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Ladbrokes owner confirms foray into US market

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Ladbrokes owner GVC Holdings has confirmed plans for a joint venture with MGM Resorts that will help the FTSE 100 gaming group take advantage of a burgeoning sports betting market in the US.

GVC and New York-listed MGM have agreed to initially pump 100 million US dollars (£76 million) each into the business which will site its headquarters in a “major US technology hub” and have a board of directors with equal representation from each company.

The new venture will have access to a number of digital gaming markets under the playMGM and partypoker headline brands, with access to US land-based and online sports betting, real money and free-to-play online casino gaming, as well as online poker.

It will also result in the integration of MGM and GVC’s loyalty programmes.

GVC chief executive Kenneth Alexander said: “MGM Resorts is a world-leading entertainment business and the most trusted name in gaming, with the highest quality brands and management, and strong sports connectivity.

“This, combined with GVC’s technology and experience in successfully building online gaming businesses across multiple markets, presents a truly exciting opportunity for US players and our respective shareholders.

“To be able to team up with a partner with such pedigree and knowledge, particularly in the US, is a real opportunity for GVC.”

GVC also owns sports betting and gaming brands including Coral, Sportingbet, Foxy Bingo, Gala, and bwin.

The firms said they were “excited” about the launch ahead of the forthcoming professional American football season.

The joint venture is meant to capitalise on a recent ruling by the US Supreme Court which struck down a federal law that had banned gambling on individual sporting events.

States will now be able to choose individually whether to legalise sports betting.

MGM Resorts’ chairman and chief executive Jim Murren said: “GVC is unusually qualified due to their existing operations in the US.

“Together, we are creating a one-of-a-kind platform that we expect will dominate the US sports betting market.”

The move is likely to be a boost for GVC, which is among a raft of bookmakers expected to take a hit after the UK Government announced it was cutting the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) to £2.

A date for the launch of the joint venture is to be confirmed, as it is subject to regulatory approvals.

GVC Holdings shares were up as much as 6.3% at the start of trading.