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How MGM's partnership with the Las Vegas Raiders will further sports betting

The Las Vegas Raiders will unveil their new stadium tonight versus the New Orleans Saints. MGM Resorts President of Entertainment & Sports George Kliavkoff joins the On the Move panel to discuss the company's partnership with the Raiders.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Well, tonight the Las Vegas Raiders will face off against the New Orleans Saints. It is the first home game for the newly located Las Vegas team. Remember they were in Oakland. They were in L.A. for a while. It's the first game, by the way, at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Joining us now is George Kliavkoff. He is MGM Resorts President of Entertainment & Sports, and he's joining us from Las Vegas, as you might imagine.

So George, people aren't allowed in the stadium to watch this game, but what kind of activity is MGM expecting, sort of around the game, both in person, perhaps, there at your casinos, but also in an online sense?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: Well, it's an unusual circumstance. I think we were hoping to have an incredible crowd for the first game at Allegiant Stadium. We'll, we'll put that off for a year, but what we've seen is a great surge in our sports books. And we've seen Raiders fans, particularly drive-in fans from California, show up for the game. Actually this morning, I drove by this road, drove by the stadium, and they were trying to tailgate.

ADAM SHAPIRO: George, I come from the era of the old Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. My dad used to take me there, and I remember the old Dolphin games, and I've got to ask you, not only professional sports, but also your whole industry, after the pandemic, because there will be an after, how long is it going to be until people feel comfortable to be shoulder-to-shoulder with other people, without masks, and what's the impact going to be?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: Well, I think we're going to start in our publicly ticketed live entertainment venues in the next couple of months with limited social distanced kind of events, and we'll keep everyone safe. And then I think we're really talking about when a vaccine comes along before we can really have full capacity, people shoulder to shoulder.

JULIE HYMAN: Dan Howley, you want to jump in here?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah, sorry about that, George. I kind of wanted to ask about, you know, what the expectations for the Raiders in Las Vegas are, as far as, kind of, the interest, right? I mean, the Raiders didn't really have any kind of, you know, built-in fan base in Las Vegas at all. People in Oakland were kind of upset to see it go, obviously. I guess, what, what does that mean then for the stadium's future and then just, I guess, the future of football there?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: Well, I think Las Vegas is already the established entertainment capital of the world, and we're slowly becoming, over last three or four years, the sports capital of the world. We introduced the city to the Vegas Golden Knights who play in our T-Mobile Arena, and then we bought the Las Vegas Aces, moved them to Las Vegas, and both of those teams, professional sports teams, have seen great success.

I think with respect to the Raiders, it's the highest percentage of out-of-state season ticket holders of any NFL team. And I think what we're going to see is about a third of the fans are going to be local Raiders fans. About a third of the fans are going to be visiting Raiders fans. Many of them drive in from California. And then interestingly, a third of the fans are going to be fans of the visiting team. It makes for an interesting dynamic, but great for us as we own the six or seven closest hotels to the stadium.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, George, Rick Newman here. Could you tell us what is happening with gambling on sports, as far as you can tell? You know, people need something to do. Obviously, I mean, one of the stories we've been following here at Yahoo Finance is the rise of what seems to be a new rise in day traders on platforms like Robinhood, just because again, because they need something to do, and that's a form of gambling. So are people gambling more as they go to games less?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: Yes, for sure. We've see record BetMGM weeks the last couple of weeks with the NFL and obviously, the unprecedented sports of NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL, the Kentucky Derby, multiple PGA events, all happening in the same month. It's never happened before. But what you saw was, when, at the height of the pandemic, all of our resort casinos were closed. The only place that the company was making money was on sports betting and iGaming, online casino and poker. And we had people betting on darts and table tennis and Belarusian soccer. So yeah, people wanted that. And I think what's going to happen is, coming out of COVID, and with shortfalls in state budgets, you're going to see an acceleration of the legalization of sports betting initiatives across the country. We're predicting by 2025, 38 states, vast majority of the US population, will have legalized sports gaming. And we've been investing in our BetMGM app to make it available to people, even when they're not at our properties.

JULIE HYMAN: George, there are a lot of other online gambling sites now as well, right? It sort of felt like early on in the days of online gambling and sports betting that it was going to be mostly the purview of companies like yours, but now you have other companies like DraftKings, like FanDuel, whose CEO we spoke to last week. So how do you retain and grow that market share when you do have some increasing competition?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: Yeah, I think in the short term DraftKings and FanDuel are going to be formidable competitors. They obviously have installed base of customers who have been playing daily fantasy and who have an understanding that those brands have an affinity for sports. We have to build our brand, but we have some unique opportunities, because the brand is connected to all of our resorts, so we can create unique and custom customer acquisition and retention tools, using visits to the Borgata or the Bellagio or the Aria, you know, access to tickets to Lady Gaga or, or some of our other resident shows. So I think long term, we'll be in a very good place.

You know, what we've tried to do to compete against the fantasy sports providers is choose and, there's a little throw to the home team here, but choose a deep integrated partnership with Yahoo, which obviously is a terrific fantasy sports site, and all of those fantasy fans on Yahoo are being offered the opportunity to bet on, bet MGM, if they're in states where it's legal.

DAN HOWLEY: Hey George, if we saw kind of that, you know, kind of, gambling on these weird, I guess, Belarusian soccer and things along those lines, you know, when people didn't have live sports, are we going to see people shift back, or do you think we're going to continue to see people, kind of, sticking to those niche areas for gambling, because they might have gotten really into it in the meantime?

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: No, a couple months into, uh, large US professional sports, we're seeing everybody went back to what they were traditionally used to betting on. The NFL has been a big boon for us. Obviously, that's the largest pot of sports betting in the US, and the first two weeks have been incredible. We've seen record weeks in both handle and revenue.

Now, well, I don't know, in table tennis, you don't have to worry about concussions, so that's at least one advantage. George Kliavkoff, thank you so much for joining us. MGM Resorts President of Entertainment & Sports, enjoy the game tonight remotely. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

GEORGE KLIAVKOFF: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.