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Expect other hotel companies to wager on gaming soon. After all, if airlines have code-shares and interlining agreements, why can't hotels and gaming companies, too?

Marriott International has signed a licensing deal with MGM Resorts to let Marriott Bonvoy loyalty members earn points when staying at 17 MGM resorts, starting in October. Bookings at 40,000 of MGM’s rooms mainly in Las Vegas will be available through Marriott’s site and app by year-end.

“We look forward to increasing our global room distribution by 2.4% as we grow our presence on the Las Vegas Strip and in other compelling destinations across the U.S.,” said Anthony Capuano, president and CEO of Marriott International.

The move represents Marriott’s first effort at tapping the gaming resort sector, though it’s not officially adding a new brand as MGM remains the operator of the resorts. Until now, Las Vegas has been a tough market for Marriott to crack because of the dominance of gaming resorts. Marriott and MGM have had a co-marketing partnership only at The Cosmopolitan on The Strip.

“MGM is the leader in high-end casino resorts in the U.S. and dominates the Las Vegas Strip in hotel rooms so it is a natural fit with Marriott,” said Alan Woinski, editor of Daily Lodging Report.

Marriott and MGM Loyalty Gamble

Members of MGM’s loyalty program, which claims more than 40 million members, will be able to link accounts with Marriott’s loyalty program and get as-yet-unspecified “select member benefits” at more than 8,500 properties.

Members of Marriott Bonvoy, which has more than 180 million members, will be able to earn and redeem points for stays at the 17 MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy properties.

“Members of both programs will also be able to exchange MGM Rewards points for Marriott Bonvoy points and vice versa,” the companies said.

MGM Resorts is ending in September a smaller deal with Hyatt, where spending in MGM’s rewards program could help members of Hyatt’s loyalty program advance to a higher tier status. Hyatt didn’t offer booking at MGM properties, and the rewards weren’t as generous.

The Marriott brand was founded by J. Willard Marriott Senior, who was a Mormon, a religious faith disapproving of gambling. For decades, the Marriott empire stayed away from the gambling sector.

Times change. The deal announced on Monday includes a gaming component. Marriott International also has a deal with BetMGM, MGM Resorts International’s online gaming and sports betting joint venture, where Marriott Bonvoy members will have chances to earn loyalty points on certain BetMGM transactions by taking part in games and other offers on the BetMGM site and app. Details to come later this year.

A Blending of Gaming and Lodging?

“The announcement confirms a long-time view of mine that the casino resort and traditional hotel industries would eventually become ‘an item’,” Woinski said.

A crossover, such as a merger or some large joint venture, between lodging and gaming real-estate investment trusts [REITs] is likely to happen sooner than some expected in light of the MGM and Marriott partnership.

“The casino integrated resort business and traditional hotel business are becoming a family,” Woinski said. “Will the REITs (either gaming or lodging) take this as an opening to merge the industries even further?”

For more context, see Marriott’s Hotel Brands, Explained.


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Tags: bonvoy, brands, casino resorts, casinos, future of lodging, loyalty, marriott bonvoy, mgm, mgm resorts, mgm resorts international, rewards programs

Photo credit: Exterior of the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas. Source: MGM.

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