MGM: Innovating on All Fronts

The resort giant is building a massive solar energy facility outside Las Vegas capable of delivering up to 50 percent of the electricity needs of its 13 Southern Nevada casino hotels. The company also is seeing impressive buy-in from players nationwide in a unique responsible gaming program.

MGM Resorts International plans to harness the sun to power a sizable portion of its Southern Nevada casino empire.

The Las Vegas-based gaming giant has partnered with Invenergy to create a 100-megawatt photovoltaic array of solar panels on 640 acres of federal land 25 miles northeast of the city. Known as the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone it is one of five areas in the southern part of the state, and 19 across the nation, created by the Obama administration to facilitate solar development.

Construction is slated to begin next year and be completed by the end of 2020.

“It’s really a strong, strong project. We’re really proud of it,” Cindy Ortega, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for MGM Resorts, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The facility’s 336,000 panels will provide enough power to service the equivalent of 27,000 homes. It will power 30 percent of MGM Resorts’ 13 operations in Southern Nevada. Ultimately, the company hopes to increase that figure to 50 percent.

“Protecting the planet is a business imperative for MGM Resorts and it is our responsibility to find innovative ways where we can use clean energy to power our resorts,” said Chairman and CEO James Murren.

The company marked itself as a gaming industry leader in alternative energy in 2016, when it completed the expansion of the nation’s largest contiguous rooftop solar array. The 26,000-panel, 8.3-megawatt installation is located on the roof of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip.

Responsible gaming has been another area of leadership for the company, which recently announced that its adoption of Canada’s GameSense problem gambling awareness program has boosted outreach by more than 160,000 interactions between employees and players.

MGM announced in February 2017 that the GameSense program mandated by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the soon-to-open MGM Springfield casino, would be rolled out to every MGM operation in the United States. That process was completed late last year.

GameSense was established by the British Columbia Lottery Corp. to develop effective measures for players to control compulsive gambling habits that researchers say afflict around 5 percent of the gambling population.

“The old way of doing this was to be reactive to a customer, and only in circumstances where a customer was clearly displaying some form of aberrant behavior would we reach out,” said Alan Feldman, executive vice president of global industry affairs for MGM. “The difference here, of course, is that we’re having this conversation now with anyone and everyone and not waiting for someone to have a problem, but discussing this with them upfront.”

MGM’s biggest effort to drive awareness has come through enabling contact with the thousands of members of the company’s M life loyalty card program.

“I think that a lot of the credit for this goes to BCLC and their willingness to allow us to try something different,” Feldman said.

MGM also is providing the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ International Gaming Institute with $1 million over five years to study the effectiveness of GameSense. UNLV’s research will be shared with the Cambridge Health Alliance at Harvard Medical School, which is working on data analysis. Reports also will be shared with other GameSense licensees across the United States and Canada.

“UNLV can distribute it without restriction from MGM, and we want them to,” Feldman said.