Boyd Gaming seeking to expand reach

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Boyd Gaming is moving toward further expansion, its optimism driven by more customer spending than anything the company has seen in a decade.

Some of this increase is attributed to the extended use of the company’s B Connected players loyalty card which has been installed at the casinos acquired by Boyd in the last year or so.

The other big revenue driver is legal sports betting, according to CEO Keith Smith. The company operates books at its casinos in Nevada and Mississippi and last month opened a book at the recently-acquired Valley Forge Casino near Philadelphia in partnership with FanDuel.

Boyd also has a sports wagering agreement with MGM Resorts International. The agreement allows access to MGM in areas where Boyd does not have casinos.

Smith said the MGM “market access deal” could open Boyd to sports wagering in potentially 15 states, representing 40 percent of the U.S. population. He lauded FanDuel’s success in New Jersey and Boyd expects to have an active role in the expansion of ­mobile sports wagering.

Smith noted that sports wagering created a “new avenue to increase the appeal of our properties and expand our pool of customers”through the introduction of unique new amenities.”

In related news, Smith said on a recent earnings call he wasn’t concerned about the Department of Justice’s re-interpretation of the Federal Wire Act which could curtail use of the Internet in gaming activities, including online gaming, online lottery sales and mobile sports wagering.

Implementation is on hold until June because of federal lawsuits brought by the New Hampshire Lottery and a vendor. More than 30 attorneys general have filed briefs supporting New Hampshire’s opposition to the DOJ stand.

Smith admitted the Justice Department’s ruling, “certainly got our attention.” But the way the company reads the opinion, it doesn’t prohibit sports betting within a state’s borders.

“So it doesn’t, in that respect, alter our plans in Pennsylvania, or moving forward in other states,” Smith said. “It hasn’t slowed down the legislative action around sports betting. So yes, it really hasn’t changed our focus or frankly our excitement about the opportunity to grow that business.” 

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