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BetMGM And Carnival To Bring Sports Betting To Cruise Ships

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • BetMGM and Carnival Corporation have announced a partnership to bring mobile and retail sports betting/iGaming to cruise ship guests.
  • You’ll be able to enjoy the MGM platform on more than 50 US based ships under the Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises brands.
  • The BetMGM platform will roll out in phases over the coming months.

I’ve never understood the appeal of cruises. I’ve had the opportunity to go on at least a dozen cruises over the past decade with someone else picking up the tab. Each time I told the benefactor that ‘I’m good’ and went about my business. I love to travel, I love restaurants, and I love hotels. I can enjoy all of these experiences and don’t need to be on a boat to do it. I’m also a customer not to suffer fools gladly. If I check into a property where things aren’t just how I want them the staff better fix it ASAP or I’m leaving for another high quality hotel and their corporate hierarchy is getting a nasty letter. This is obviously not possible on a cruise ship–if the accommodations aren’t up to appropriate standards you’re stuck.

A few years ago, I was at a social function and made a derisive comment about cruise ships being ‘floating petri dishes’. Just Google ‘cruise ship virus outbreak‘ and you’ll see what I mean. The wife of an acquaintance of mine reacted as if I had just dropped a racial slur. She let me know how much she enjoyed ‘cruising’ and was aghast that I viewed this buoyant utopia in a negative light. That didn’t last long–she quickly morphed into the role of ‘cruise saleswoman’ (which it turns out that she was). She took it upon herself to try to sell me on the ‘cruise experience’ and invited me to give her my objections which she would address.

It’s like ‘Family Feud’ but you’re stuck on a boat

What she didn’t know is that I have several friends who do enjoy cruises and take multiple trips a year. They’ve given me the 411 on everything and so I’ve got the unvarnished truth about cruises. This way the cruise saleswoman couldn’t swindle me with bad information. My first gripe was basically the whole deal–the comically small rooms, the mid-market casino buffet level food, the forced camaraderie with the other passengers, the smarmy crew, the shabby and expensive Internet and cellphone access and above all else the fact that you’re stuck on a boat and you can’t leave. Her response–this is all a ‘stereotype’ and that my cruise experience could be ‘anything I wanted’. Thanks to my friends/informants I knew that she was being disingenuous here but at this point I didn’t let on.

The Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado

I informed her that since I’m a grown man, anytime I take a trip the experience is ‘anything I want’. Luxury suites at the best hotels, fine dining, first class flights, so on and so forth. I can fly anywhere in a matter of hours and when I arrive I’m not forced to engage in fake merrymaking and frivolity with the other guests at the Grand Hyatt. She kept insisting that the fake camaraderie didn’t really happen but my ‘informants’ insist otherwise. Case in point–I’ve never checked into a hotel and have the concierge invite me to participate in a ‘live version’ of the venerable Family Feud game show.

A top quality cruise ship stateroom

I hoped some photographic evidence could get me out of this tedious conversation so I pulled up this photo from a recent trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado. This was my suite at the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch. It’s not even in the top 50% of my ‘best hotel rooms ever’ but it was a well appointed, serviceable suite. The Ritz Carlton is one of the few hotel chains in North America with a first rate staff, so this is always a perk when you stay there. I asked her if there were rooms like this on cruise ships. She said ‘Oh, there are much nicer rooms’. By this point I figured out that she wasn’t dealing in reality.

Case in point–I did a quick Google search for a first rate cruise ship stateroom and this is what I came up with. Not bad, but not in the same league as a suite at a top flight hotel. And lest we forget, you’re stuck on a boat. I tried to get her to address my other ‘objections’ but she kept fixating on her alternate reality where cruise ship staterooms are nicer than a suite at the Ritz Carlton.

This brings us to the present day where before long you’ll be able to enjoy mobile and retail sports betting on a number of US ported cruise ships. I’ve long said that gaming companies should work with big players in other industries to advance their mutual interests (eg: favorable regulatory environments). This wasn’t really what I was talking about. BetMGM has announced a partnership with Carnival Corporation to ‘deliver world-class retail and mobile sports betting and iGaming experiences’ to cruise ship guests. Word is that it’ll eventually be on more than 50 ships that operate under the Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises brands. You’ll get to enjoy the betting action once you reach international waters because the United States is a ‘free country’ and all of that.

For BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt, it’s another chance to expand his company’s ever growing brand:

“We’ve found an ideal partner in Carnival Corporation and look forward to providing our sports betting and iGaming products to its millions of passengers. This is another great opportunity for us to further expand BetMGM’s footprint.” 

For Marty Goldman, SVP Global Casino Operations for Carnival Corporation, it’s another chance to extract money from the poor suckers stuck on his boats:

“We’re very proud to be able to deliver the excitement and engagement of sports betting and iGaming to our guests through our partnership with BetMGM. Our two leading global hospitality organizations will provide a wide array of immersive digital content as a complement to our exceptional shipboard casinos.”

So there’s that. Enjoy this video of a raging cruise ship party.

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