Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. In our latest edition we revisit M&A manoeuvres at both Bally’s and Playtech, developments in Ontario, the EGBA’s e-ID backing, and a blockbuster Super Bowl that is now less than one week away.
The launch date for Ontario’s regulated igaming market was given a revised opening date of April 4, confirmed iGaming Ontario.
Originally expected to be operational in December, 2021, the launch will establish a new online gaming platform that is said to “help protect consumers and provide more choice”.
From this aforementioned date, private gaming operators that have registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and have executed an operating agreement with iGO, a subsidiary of the AGCO, can begin to offer its games to players within the region.
The ongoing battle to take control of Playtech took another turn, with Hong Kong-based investment group TTB Partners confirmed as making an approach to the gambling tech firm.
Following Aristocrat’s ultimately doomed £2.7bn pursuit, Playtech noted that it “was contacted by TTB Partners Limited on behalf of an investor group to be formed and advised by it” to be released from rule 2.8 of the City Code on Mergers and Acquisitions.
On November 19, 2021, Gopher Investments, an affiliate of TTB, confirmed that it had no intention of making an offer for Playtech and, as a result, the group was bound by the restrictions imposed for a period of six months, which was slated to come to an end on May 20, 2022.
Prior acquisitive overtures had also been teased by Gopher Investments, a 4.97 per cent shareholder that agreed a deal to purchase Playtech’s Finalto financial services division, a move that met one of the key conditions of Aristocrat’s attempted buyout of the firm.
However, Gopher formally dropped out of the race in November, one day after JKO Play, a 0.51 per cent shareholder in Playtech, entered the fray, before it too withdrew from the takeover battle last month.
René Jansen, chair of the Dutch Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit, issued a warning to the country’s digital incumbents that if they “do not take sufficient responsibility, the government will at some point”.
The comments came amid opposition fear at a potential increase in the number of individuals addicted to gambling following the launch of the region’s online ecosystem on October 1, 2021.
Should the aforementioned responsibility be neglected, Jansen shared a “cautious assessment” that the Netherlands could follow a similar path to the one trodden in Sweden, and implement lowered deposit limited and stricter controls on advertising.
Jansen cited what he called a “balanced” news item that aired in the region when examining industry inducements, which he added carried a central message “that online gambling companies seem to do a lot to entice players to continue playing”.
Bally’s has formed a special committee that will evaluate a preliminary, non-binding acquisition proposal by New York-based investment firm Standard General.
The company, whose founding partner is current Bally’s chair Soohyung Kim, is offering to purchase all of the outstanding shares that it does not already own for $38 each, which comes in at $2.07bn and represents a premium of 30 per cent to the closing price as of January 24, 2022.
The former Twin River Worldwide Holdings said that its special committee comprises “independent and disinterested directors,” which will evaluate the proposal in front of Bally’s as well as any potential strategic alternatives.
“As a result of our long-term involvement with the company and its predecessor, we have a detailed understanding of Bally’s, its business and assets, which will enable us to move quickly to finalise a transaction,” Kim, who has served as an independent director of Bally’s since 2016, noted in a public filing detailing the motion.
“We intend to fund the transaction through sale and lease back and other long-term financing arrangements.”
Gambling.com Group has enhanced its North American growth strategy after the company detailed the acquisition of NDC Media, the publisher of BonusFinder .
As a result, the former anticipates achieving an accelerated rate of expansion across the US, as well as becoming “strategically positioned” to capitalise on developments across Canada, beginning with the province of Ontario.
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Gambling.com paid an aggregate purchase price of €12.5m ($13.92m), of which €10m ($11.14m) was paid in cash and €2.5m ($2.86m) in newly issued, unregistered ordinary shares.
The selling shareholders may also benefit from additional earnout payments based on financial performance in each of 2022 and 2023. According to forecasts, the total consideration, including purchase price paid at close and both earnout payments, is expected to be approximately €41m $47m). The acquisition closed on January 31, 2022.
The creation of a ‘European Digital Identity’ could revolutionise a “heavily fragmented” online gambling market and bring numerous advantages to players, stated Vasiliki Panousi, manager of EU affairs at the European Gaming and Betting Association.
The proposed e-ID, which would amend the European Commission’s existing regulation on electronic identification and trust services, is to take the form of an electronic identity wallet.
This would permit EU citizens to store their identity data, including other personal attributes such as name, date of birth, e-mail address, bank account numbers, certificates, driving licences, COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
This could then be used to access public and private services online, identify themselves electronically, share documents and create electronic signatures, anywhere in the EU.
Furthermore, public bodies and private sector organisation would be required to offer its usage, meaning online platforms such as gambling websites, as well as entities such as Amazon, Facebook, and Booking.com, would have to accept the use of e-ID for age and identity verification purposes.
For online gambling, service, Panousi, speaking in the January 2022 edition of the International Masters of Gaming Law Magazine, says that a standardised pan-EU verification method would streamline compliance and enhance the customer experience, and could have a positive impact on player protection.
Super Bowl LVI could see bettors wager $1bn across legalised US jurisdictions, according to analysts, a projection that would roughly double that which was made one year earlier.
PlayUSA projects that Nevada, which was the second-largest market in 2021, will produce the largest Super Bowl handle with $175m, with New York having the potential to generate $160m.
If these estimates come to fruition, the two region’s would bring more betting volume than what every legal sportsbook in the US combined to tally for the 2019 game.
New Jersey ($130m), Illinois ($75m), Pennsylvania ($70m), Arizona ($55m), Michigan ($45m), Indiana ($40m), Colorado ($35m) Louisiana ($35m), Virginia ($35m), and Tennessee ($30m), round-off the PlayUSA estimates.
When the NFL showpiece takes place on Sunday 13 February, sports betting, in some form, will be legal in 30 states and Washington DC, which represent more than 166.9 million people.