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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Consolidation Wave Strikes Global Gambling amid Regulatory Pressure and Heavy Competition

Casino News Daily
Consolidation Wave Strikes Global Gambling amid Regulatory Pressure and Heavy Competition

The first several months of the year turned out to be quite eventful within the gambling field. And probably the most important event witnessed by industry peers was the wave of consolidation that struck globally and involved some of the world’s largest gambling companies.

GVC Holdings completed the acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral ahead of what now seems to be an imminent crackdown on FOBTs, Playtech decided to cement its position in the Italian gambling market by acquiring one of its major players, Snaitech, The Stars Group announced that it would buy Sky Betting and Gaming, and most recently Cirsa selected American buyout firm The Blackstone Group as the preferred bidder for its diverse business portfolio.

The consolidation wave has just struck the field and more and more merger and acquisition deals are likely to be announced in the coming months. However, it is important to say that while it is yet to be seen what the future has in store, all of the above-mentioned transactions are of a scale that would change not just their own operations, but also the industry as a whole amid regulatory pressure in key regulated markets, growing competition within the field, and customers seeking greater diversity and innovation.

Here is a bit more about each of the four deals.

GVC Holdings and Ladbrokes Coral

GVC Holdings had previously approached Ladbrokes Coral on at least two occasions with a consolidation proposal, but talks had fallen apart both times. However, last December, Ladbrokes Coral, the owner of UK’s largest chain of betting shops and an operator with online presence in a number of jurisdictions, was approached by its online counterpart one more time to review and eventually accept its offer.

The deal was confirmed on December 22, 2017 and was completed at the end of March 2018. It practically created a gambling powerhouse with presence across all sectors and across multiple regulated jurisdictions.

It was announced back in December that Ladbrokes Coral would be valued at between £3.2 billion and £3.9 billion, depending on the UK Government’s decision regarding the highly controversial fixed-odds betting terminals. Ladbrokes Coral operates the largest number of such devices across the UK and a proposed cut of the maximum stake these accept to just £2 would hit its profitablity significantly. Reports emerged last week that British MPs have actually agreed to that proposal and their final decision is expected to be announced within the next few weeks. GVC Holdings’ shares plummeted 6% last week after the reports appeared in multiple news outlets.

While Ladbokes Coral will certainly suffer a heavy blow from the looming crackdown, it might be able to offset some of the losses by improving its online product. GVC has a solid online precense and its new asset will certainly be able to leverage its new parent company’s experience and positions across multiple jurisdictions. What is more, GVC has a good record of successfully integrating new businesses into its existing operations, so its tie-up with Ladbrokes Coral now, and for now, seems to be like a profitable move, particularly for the latter.

Playtech and Snaitech

Playtech’s gaming division had a rough start to the year as it found itself in the middle of a crackdown in one of its premier Asian markets, Malaysia. In addition, like other UK-facing gambling companies, it also has to cope with regulatory challenges from that market, as well.

To boost its operations in that particular vertical, the company set sights on another major European market and a company with strong presence in it. It became known in early April that Playtech has entered an agreement to buy Snaitech, one of Italy’s largest gambling groups by annual revenue generated.

Playtech will first acquire a 70.6% stake in the company. It expects to complete the transactions by the third quarter of the year. It will then launch a mandatory takeover offer for the remaining 29.4% stake in Snaitech, which it believes it will obtain by the end of the year.

Playtech will pay €846 million for the Italian company, including its debt. The deal is expcted to generate cost synergies of €10 million.

Snaitech currently operates both online and land-based gambling businesses, including 1,600 betting points across Italy and online sports betting and casino games. Last year, the company generated revenue of €890 million and core earnings of €136 million. That combined with the rapid growth of Italy’s gambling market attracted Playtech to the company.

Playtech’s CEO Mor Weizer that the transaction will secure Playtech with a better position in Europe’s largest gambling market by revenue generated. The executive pointed out that Italy’s market was worth well over €20 billion last year.

The Stars Group and Sky Betting and Gaming

In a somewhat surprising move, Canada’s The Stars Group announced a fortnight ago that it would buy its UK counterpart Sky Betting and Gaming. While the former is known to be the owner of the world’s largest poker operator, PokerStars, the latter is one of UK’s largest online gambling companies.

The deal valued Sky Betting and Gaming at $4.7 billion and once completed will create the world’s largest listed gambling company. The transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of the year, pending approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and several gambling regulators.

The acquisition will give The Stars Group the opportunity to work to leverage SkyBet’s expeirence in the sports betting field. The Canadian gambling giant launched its sports betting product, BetStars, in 2016 and is now looking to improve it and gain positions in key regulated betting markets with it.

As for SkyBet and its benefits from the deal, the company will be able to extend its global precense across multiple jurisdictions where its new parent company already operates. SkyBet currently has one of the largest customer bases in the UK and also operates in Italy and Germany.

Blackstone and Cirsa

The successful bid of American private equity investment trust The Blackstone Group for Spain’s Cirsa was announced just days ago, and few details about the deal emerged. Sources claimed that Blackstone would pay around €1.6 billion for Cirsa, while the latter expected that it would fetch somewhere around €2 billion from a potential buyer.

Cirsa is Spain’s largest gambling operator. The company’s porfolio includes both land-based and online gambling businesses, including casinos, online gambling websites, betting points, bingo halls, and recreational gaming machines, among others. Aside from Spain, it also operates in Italy and several Latin American countries.

The post Consolidation Wave Strikes Global Gambling amid Regulatory Pressure and Heavy Competition appeared first on Casino News Daily.

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