An ambition of becoming “a brilliant, forward-thinking gaming company” has once again been stressed by Scientific Games, as the group, alongside Lightning Box, reflect on the former’s purchase of the Sydney-based slots studio.
The deal was praised as a “key step forward” in Scientific Games’ aim of becoming a content-led sustainable growth company, and follows the firm’s June announcement of divestments of both its lottery and sports betting businesses.
As Lightning Box becomes Scientific Games’ first acquisition for five years in the igaming space, Dylan Slaney, SVP of gaming and digital at Scientific Games, and Peter Causley, CEO and co-founder of Lightning Box, reflect on how the stars aligned for the agreement to come to fruition, what it means for each business, key jurisdiction’s of focus, on future M&A potential.
What does Lightning Box offer that made it an attractive option for Scientific Games?
Dylan Slaney: The journey that Lightning Box has made has been great to watch and the success of the business is down to the combination of passion for what they do and a strong belief in the power of innovation. What was particularly attractive to Scientific Games was the scope and appeal of the products they have, with players all around the world enjoying experiences in which every single moment matters, with a granular attention to detail.
On top of that, we know them very well from working together for many years and have seen how their collaborative processes help drive the creation of exciting new content. This acquisition will help promote the accelerated growth of Lightning Box while also bringing a supremely talented business into the SG family.
CB: What does the acquisition mean for Lightning Box? Is it business as usual, or will what you do start to evolve?
Peter Causley: SG’s acquisition of Lightning Box means the studio can focus much more on content design. It frees up our time away from the support areas of the business, like legal, finance and human resources. This will allow us to grow the number of games that we produce organically using our existing, close knit-team.
“…we have been collectively thinking about and creating content for the US market for, dare I say it, decades”Peter Causley, CEO and co-founder of Lightning Box.
Being under the SG umbrella will also allow us to enter each new market much more easily, as additional licensing hurdles that can significantly slow down market rollouts have been removed. We will now be able to expand at the same pace as SG, therefore. As a result, Lightning Box will be on the same path as before – it’s just that we will now be using the express lanes.
CB: Having worked together in partnership for a long period, why was this the right time for the acquisition to take place?
DS: With any acquisition, the stars need to align on both sides for it to take place. This was the right time personally for Peter Causley and David Little (games director) and also for Scientific Games and SG Digital.
We have built an amazing partnership with Lightning Box, spanning all of our global territories, and they have been one of our key partners building games through our Connect platform. We now look forward to having them closer to us and supporting their growth into the future.
CB: What are the main reasons behind Lightning Box’s success in producing content that suits the US market?
DS: Even outside of the US, Lightning Box have had global success with their content over many years. We know their content resonates with players in all of our markets. Within the US, they have been part of our portfolio for a long time and we recently launched them, side by side with the rest of our content, on day one of Michigan going live.
That was followed up more recently in West Virginia. Already, we have seen that their content particularly appeals to US players. Peter and David started their career path in the land-based industry with Aristocrat and IGT respectively and you see that DNA shining through in their games.
Land-based games perform particularly well within digital gaming in the US and Lightning Box games certainly appeal to this kind of player. One or two of their games are in the top 10 of titles in most of the markets we are involved with in the US, which is fantastic to see.
“Our strategic focus is on becoming a brilliant, forward-thinking gaming company”Dylan Slaney, SVP of gaming and digital at Scientific Games.
PC: David Little and I cut our teeth in the land-based industry with Aristocrat and IGT. As result, we have been collectively thinking about and creating content for the US market for, dare I say it, decades. When we launched Lightning Box we quickly started producing games for the land-based industry.
That was followed by success in social gaming and I’d like to think that both ventures have provided a blueprint that shines through now that we are delivering titles for the online industry there.
As SG Digital know more than most, as a company that has enjoyed a very similar transition to Lightning Box, land-based games perform particularly well within digital gaming in the US.
The proof of that is in the pudding because one or two of our games are in the top 10 of titles in most of the markets we are involved with in the US, which is fantastic to see.
CB: How does this acquisition fit in with SG Digital’s overall strategy? Do you anticipate further M&A activity as the business grows across North America?
DS: Our strategic focus is on becoming a brilliant, forward-thinking gaming company while divesting our sports businesses, setting them up to follow their own growth journey. This acquisition helps to continue to drive that strategy, focused on creating the best games for players globally.
We see Lightning Box as an integral part of that strategy as we move forward in executing that goal of providing the best content for players in all our regulated markets. This is our first acquisition in the last five years in the igaming space but what I can say is, you probably won’t have to wait another five years for the next one.