While it is common in business for companies to merge or acquire other companies, in the casino industry, such partnerships create an air of excitement for players all over the world. The fusion of different software providers with other entertainment and gaming companies or the addition of talented managerial teams to casinos that have been around for decades results in fresh and modern products and services that benefit their customers immensely.
A great example of this is the relatively new partnership between ESL (formerly Electronic Sports League), which is the largest esports company in the world, and GG Bet as its official global betting partner. The bookmaker not only offers one of the best platforms for sports and esports betting but also has a great online casino with a variety of poker, slots, and table casino games. This partnership opens doors for esports betting fans who get to enjoy the combination of great products from both companies.
As tough as it might have been for the casino scene this year due to the Coronavirus restrictions that have led to the closure of land-based casinos, 2020 has also been the year of some of the biggest mergers and acquisitions in the industry’s history. They include:
Caesars Entertainment remains one of the largest casino and hotel companies in the US to date, and so does the sportsbook William Hill, having the third-largest market share in the industry at the time of its acquisition. Early in 2020, the two companies began conversations about the addition of William Hill to the vast portfolio held by Caesars Entertainment.
The majority vote by shareholders of William Hill was cast in favor of the acquisition at 86% in late 2020, and both companies plan to seal the deal by March 2021 – subject to the satisfaction of obligatory regulation conditions and approval of the appropriate authorities. What this means for William Hill is that it will be able to expand its territories which at the time of the acquisition were at over 100 locations, and it was operating in about 10 states in the USA. Mutual benefits will be seen by both parties in the years to come as Caesars Entertainment plans to acquire several other top casinos and gambling companies.
The gaming giant Penn National Gaming Inc. announced its agreement with Barstool Sports Inc. very early in 2020. Barstool Sports was one of the most popular digital sports media brands that attracted over 66 million unique visitors monthly and was doing pretty well at the time of its acquisition, having generated over $90 million annual revenue in 2019. Penn National Gaming Inc. managed to acquire a 36% majority equity stake in Barstool Sports Inc.
This might not have seemed like an obvious partnership seeing hat Penn National Gaming Inc. already managed over 41 properties, operating in 19 states while Barstool Sports Inc. was a relatively smaller company at the time, but investors appreciated the deal, and fans everywhere were excited about the results which have proved to be fruitful.
SBTech Acquired by Draftkings
The Draftkings brand needs no introduction, as it is a major global player in the gambling industry. SBTech was a European sportsbook platform that supplied top-tier online bookmakers and other operators with world-class sports betting and iGaming products and services. This acquisition process began in 2019 as SBTech was valued at over $600m and Draftkings at around $2.10bn, though the actual acquisition prices were not publicly disclosed at the time.
In fact, the merger was a three-way deal amongst Draftkings, SBTech and the acquisition company Diamond Eagle. The main benefit that Draftkings gained from the acquisition is the ability to control its betting markets, which it now can do through the SBTech brand by innovating the betting experience for its customers. Better yet, the deal allowed Draftkings’ debut on the Nasdaq as a publicly-traded company.
The fusion of Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment was one of the greatest acquisitions in the casino and hotel industry. The two came together to create one of the largest casino brands in the world with over 50 casinos, many of which are on the famous Las Vegas strip. The billion-dollar deal had started off in 2019, and it was a long process getting it approved by the necessary regulatory bodies in 2020. The company will have to sell off some of its properties to satisfy anti-competitive concerns raised by the acquisition deal.
The Stars Group was one of the largest gambling companies in the world, and it acquired the UK online sports powerhouse, Sky Betting & Gaming, in 2018. An amazing feat for the company making it the largest online gaming company that was publicly listed at the time. In 2020, an all-shares combination between The Stars Group and Flutter was agreed upon. Flutter holds some of the biggest brands in the sports bookmaking and gaming industry. The two companies were pretty equal in terms of stature, and thus, their combination sent shockwaves in the gambling industry.
It’s, however, important to note that countries have regulatory authorities that usually have to give the go-ahead for mergers or acquisitions to take place. This is done to protect the state of the market and to ensure fairness stands for all involved parties. Gambling authorities can be quite strict when it comes to consumer protection laws and the operations and practices observed by gambling companies. These and other such factors are behind the long process of merging any two or more companies in the gambling industry, which often makes it a tedious process that could take years to be completed.