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MGM COO exclusive: Japan is the largest untapped market in the world

Five months since his appointment as MGM Resorts International COO, Gambling Insider caught up with Bill Hornbuckle at the WNBA All-Stars in Las Vegas.

BillHornbuckle

Read on for what the exec, who also remains the operator's President, had to say about his role, sports betting, Japan and future goals.

How have the last few months gone in your role as President and COO?

"It’s been amazing. It’s a great opportunity to get both hands back on the steering wheel. It’s what I’ve done in this community for over 30 years. I think the way we’ve restructured the organisation, between myself, Corey [Sanders – CFO] and others, it’s going to be productive and we’re excited for the future."

How excited are you about sports betting and how high are your hopes for the vertical in the US?

"High. It’s not only about sports betting but it’s about fan engagement, both with the sports and with our industry and what we do. The correlation between sports fans, sports bettors, our customers and people who enjoy the Las Vegas experience is very high.

"So I think what’s unique about our opportunity is we get to do sports betting because it’s in our DNA; but we also get to marry it with the experiences we offer here. It’s really special, really different and I think it’s going to be a winning combination."

Something high on the priority list of MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren is Japan. How high are your hopes for the Japanese market?

"Japan is the largest untapped market in the world that we think can be regulated properly and a place we might be able to get to. It represents the economics of something like Singapore. There will be three coveted licenses. Each one of them will have an audience of about 30 million if they are spread out correctly. So we’re all in. We’ve taken an Osaka-first position and we want to build something extremely special."

What are your main goals with MGM, both personally and for the organisation?

"To ultimately get all of the value we can in the context of our organisation and real estate. We want to put the company back literally on the top of the heap. I think we have a unique proposition given our scale; we are an entertainment proposition at its very core. We think we do it better than all.

"To be able to take that and impress it upon the balance of the industry, making it beyond just casinos, making it a truly entertaining experience, is something I’d like to see this company really flourish in. We do that very well in Las Vegas but want to continue to do it in other places in the world, as well."

You can also read Gambling Insider's exclusive interview with MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren here.

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