Head of Online Gaming Bill HornbuckleWhat Brought MGM MIRAGE online?
In short, the opportunity to leverage our core competence of providing a responsible gaming and entertainment experience.
In many ways we are simply taking a key expertise and integrating it vertically rather than horizontally. We have a great brand that players trust. We have genuine gaming pedigree. We have a deep understanding of what constitutes a world class entertainment experience. Collectively that represents a powerful proposition for players and stakeholders.
On that note the other attraction was the opportunity to influence an industry at a key time of maturation. The online market is still very much in its infancy and we see the chance to shape its future. Much like we did in Las Vegas.
When was it decided that the Internet held a future for MGM MIRAGE?
When we felt it was mature enough to meet our concerns regarding player protection, security, responsibility and operator reputation and probity. And clearly we believe that that time is now. We now are seeing the emergence of robust regulatory regimes such as the Isle of Man that offer genuine comfort and reputational protection. In addition the technology is now at a point where solutions to the issues of age and geo verification can be both created and implemented.
In short whilst the commercial investment is significant it is nothing compared to the investment in terms of reputation.
What does MGM MIRAGE look for from the Internet?
We have always considered the distribution opportunity of the Internet too significant to ignore. Clearly we are looking for overall growth but within that we are seeking a wider jurisdictional presence than is afforded by a pure bricks and mortar presence. We also look for a positioning for growth – by which I mean understanding and influencing the market as it matures.
MGM MIRAGE is the largest gaming company in the world. How will its going online effect the other land-based American operators?
I think it will send a signal that both the opportunities and the concomitant issues of the Internet can indeed be addressed. Given what we have at stake we would not enter the market without the confidence that our reputation and land-based businesses are protected.
As a category online gaming it is too big to ignore. What was needed was someone to take a market leadership role and set a new standard for the industry as a whole. We are market leaders and have taken exactly this approach.
Do you expect that players will switch from their Caribbean-based casinos to MGM MIRAGE ? Why will/wont they?
Clearly we believe we are offering something no other operator offers – the Authentic Las Vegas experience – online. If you look at our business and our brand we have competitive advantage on two key dimensions – Trust and Gaming pedigree. On both counts we believe we offer a compelling player proposition.
Looking forward I think you will see the emergence of a two tier industry – with a “premiership” division populated by mostly bricks and mortar based operators, with brands that players and stakeholder trust, all offering leading edge solutions to the problems of age and geo verification. Below that we will see a bigger, “second division” capturing everyone else. And within that we will see a whole load of consolidation in the future.
What about MGM MIRAGE online will separate it from longer-established competing online casinos?
Our brand. And the trust and credibility that goes with it. Players know they will get paid. Stakeholders know we will “do it right”.
The gaming pedigree of the Las Vegas operation. We know how to present gaming in a wider entertainment context and we know how to not only meet but also exceed player expectations. After all we do it day in and day out.
And our age and geo verification module. Given what we have at stake we needed robust solutions to the problems of age and geo verification.
What, from your personal experience in the casino business, will make MGM MIRAGE online different from the competition?
As a brand we stand for entertainment. And as a customer service operation we are in the business of meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Both these competencies differentiate MGM MIRAGE in the offline world and both are equally pertinent in the online environment. A good example is the breadth and depth of our product offering. In the bricks and mortar environment MGM MIRAGE is well known for its huge product choice. The same goes online – we have a wealth of games in our online casino.
Another differentiator is our commitment to social responsibility –its part of our DNA.
In short if you look at the competition what you see is a fragile but expanding market lacking in big brand authority. We bring that authority.