BetMGM Louisiana's License Comes With Conditions Regarding Billionaire Barry Diller

BetMGM Louisiana's License Comes With Conditions Regarding Billionaire Barry Diller
© USA Today

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday approved a sports wagering permit for BetMGM, requiring reports on the status of a federal investigation into billionaire investor Barry Diller.

The BetMGM Louisiana Sportsbook has been operating since January on a temporary permit set to expire July 30. The renewal is for five years.

During its investigation into BetMGM’s permit application, the Louisiana State Police flagged Diller’s involvement as chairman and senior executive of IAC, which owns 7% of BetMGM, state officials said. The Control Board meeting was held at the Capitol in Baton Rouge.

Diller and his son-in-law, Alexander von Furstenberg, are under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice regarding a $60 million profit from the acquisition of Activision Blizzard Inc. The acquisition came days before Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy the video game maker, according to news reports. Diller has denied wrongdoing.

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Reports Required

The Gaming Control Board’s unanimous vote to grant Nevada-based BetMGM a Louisiana sports betting permit, also referred to as a license, comes with several conditions regarding Diller. These include a written report every six months, beginning  Sept. 1, on the status of the federal investigation. 

The reports are to be submitted to the Control Board, the Louisiana State Police and the state attorney general.

After the Control Board meeting on Thursday, Chairman Ronnie Johns told Gambling.com the state has no issue with BetMGM, which is operating under a license through Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino. 

Sam’s Town, a riverboat casino in Shreveport, is owned by Nevada-based Boyd Gaming. The BetMGM mobile app is available to bettors statewide. 

However, like all mobile apps in Louisiana, BetMGM cannot operate in the nine parishes that rejected sports betting in a November 2020 statewide vote.

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Investigation Underway

The Control Board chairman noted that Diller has not been charged with a crime.

“We don’t want to penalize BetMGM just for an investigation,” Johns told Gambling.com.

If Diller is found to be unsuitable, he would have to divest his interest in BetMGM, Johns said. Otherwise, BetMGM might be required to relinquish its license to operate in Louisiana.

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