Gambling Industry Acquisitions, Mergers and Financial News — Weekly Round-up for November 23, 2018

SBTech Eyes French Market For 2019

Betting technology supplier now in 21 regulated territories – several high-profile operators to go live with full platform solution.

Sports betting and gaming technology supplier SBTech advised Friday that it will enter the rapidly growing regulated French market in the first quarter of 2019, with a strong pipeline of well-known operators set to integrate its platform and software solutions.

France will be the provider’s 21st regulated market and swiftly follows its entry into the US, after partnership agreements with prestigious casino brands in states including New Jersey and Mississippi (see previous InfoPowa reports).

A key pillar of SBTech’s strategy is to enter all major regulated markets, and the regulated French online sports betting space, open since 2010, has developed into one of the biggest in Europe.

InfoPowa readers will recall recent third quarter numbers released by French regulator ARJEL earlier this month which reported a 28 percent year-on-year increase in iGaming turnover to Euro 2.78 billion and a 21 percent rise in gross gaming revenue (GGR) to Euro 271 million.

Sports betting has seen the largest gains, with turnover rising 81 percent to Euro 995 million, representing the vertical’s highest quarterly growth rate since the opening of the market. Figures for Q3-2018 saw sports betting record a 40 percent rise in GGR to Euro 149 million.

SBTech will continue to expand its regulated market footprint with further entry into several regulating and emerging markets planned, including Sweden, South Africa and Pennsylvania in 2019 and beyond.

Richard Carter, CEO, SBTech, said: “France has emerged as one of the strongest and most mature online sports betting markets in Europe, delivering consistent quarterly and annual growth. We firmly believe, however, that there is room for further growth and that the operators which are poised to integrate our platform and technology solutions next year will reap sizeable benefits.”

GAN Trading At Record Levels

Especially strong third quarter

GAN plc, in its latest trading update, revealed record levels driven by strong growth in US sports betting.

Quarterly key performance indicators for the second and third quarters of 2018 highlight the continuation of strong momentum with the Company trading at record levels in Q3 2018.

Gross operator revenue reached $26.7 million in the third quarter 2018 (Q3/2017: $19.1 million), up 40.1 percent y-o-y and 11.3 percent compared to Q2/2018.

An 8.6 percent quarter-on-quarter growth in Active Player Days registered 3,402,065.

Significant growth in the New Jersey market during Q3/2018 driven by the launch of Ocean Resort Casino, GAN’s second New Jersey client.

Dermot Smurfit, CEO of GAN commented:

“GAN traded at record levels during these past two quarters with significant growth in Q3 driven by the launch of our second New Jersey client of regulated gaming accelerated by the first month of US Internet sports betting in September.

“The new Key Performance Indicator ‘Gross Operator Revenue’ identifies the GAN-enabled revenues delivered to our clients operating their Simulated Gaming and/or Regulated Gambling business on our technology Platform, in which GAN participates.”

Bet365 Delivers Another Stellar Year

Record breaking annual report

Privately-owned, Stoke-on-Trent based gaming firm bet365 has reported a 26 percent increase in gaming revenue in its latest annual report.

Other key performance points for the 12 month period ending March 25, 2018 include:

  • Net Profit reached GBP 587.6 million, up 28 percent.
  • EBITDA of GBP 722 million, up 30 percent over last year.
  • Total turnover was GBP 2.86 billion.
  • Wagers placed reached GBP 52.6 billion, 12 percent up y-o-y.
  • In-play betting accounted for a whopping 77 percent of all sportsbetting revenue.
  • Tax obligations rose to GBP 78.2 million, a 78 percent increase.
  • Staff complement grew 10 percent to 4,236 at a cost of GBP 745 million to the company, up 27 percent.
  • GBP 34 million was spent on software development, an increase of 26 percent.
  • Cash reserve of GBP 1.8 billion, no debt and an additional GBP 500 million in investments.

Industry specialists expect next year to be even more impressive considering the World Cup fell out of the reporting period and bet365’s inroads into the US market.

Evolution Gaming Acquires Ezugi

Increases geographical footprint

Live casino solutions provider Evolution Gaming has agreed an acquisition deal with live dealer gaming provider Ezugi for an initial cash consideration of $12 million and a further possible consideration maxed at $6 million.

The acquisition will increase Evolution’s geographic footprint and accelerate growth in key markets, the company said.

Currently operating from multiple studios worldwide, Ezugi delivers B2B mobile and web live dealer solutions to online operators, land-based casinos and betting shops. Its markets include the US states of New Jersey and Oklahoma, Europe, Latin America and South Africa.

The acquisition will accelerate Evolution’s growth through additional market shares, as well as product development and operational capability in existing Evolution markets such as Romania and the US.

Evolution’s CEO Martin Carlesund: “I am pleased about this agreement. It is a very logical next step for Evolution which will increase our market share in key existing markets, like the U.S, where Ezugi’s presence and customer base will add to our on-going market expansion as well as add licensees in new markets, such as South Africa.”

Kfir Kugler, CEO and founder of Ezugi: “Ezugi has come a long way since it was founded in 2012 and becoming part of Evolution marks the right next step for us. Evolution’s superior offering in areas such as streaming quality and speed, user experience, game choice and all-round operational excellence will help bring the service to the current Ezugi operators to the next level.”

Stride Gaming Narrows Losses In FY2018 Results

Adopts policy to award dividend of 50 percent of adjusted net earnings to shareholders

Stride Gaming Group published its full year results for the 12 month period ending August 31, 2018 expressing satisfaction at the progress the company had made in significantly narrowing losses after tax and discontinued operations.

Stride attributes progress over the past year to a strong performance of the company’s proprietary platform and the resulting increase of 23.8 percent in real money net gaming revenue.

Key financial highlights for the full year ending August 31, 2018, include:

  • Group NGR increased 8.7 percent to GBP 88,9 million attributed to a strong performance in real money gaming.
  • Real money NGR grew 23.8 percent to reach GBP 60.5 million(2017: GBP 48.9 million).
  • Group gross gaming revenue (GGR) through mobile and touch devices increased by 5 percent and now represents 69 percent (2017 66 percent) of the total Real Money Gaming GGR.
  • Adjusted EBITDA was GBP 16,1 million (2017: 19.6 million), down 18.2 percent.
  • Adjusted net earnings were GBP 14.6 million (2017: GBP 18,2 million), down 19.6 percent.
  • Loss after tax and discontinued operations was GBP 5 million, a vast improvement on 2017’s GBP 25.6 million.
  • Net Cash on the balance sheet of GBP 26.6 million (2017: GBP 23.7 million).
  • A proposed final dividend of 1.7 pence per share, taking the total dividend for the full year to 3.0 pence per share (FY 2017: 2.7 pence per share).

Eitan Boyd, CEO of Stride Gaming:

“Looking further ahead, the Board is confident in the quality, flexibility, efficiency and robustness of the Group’s operating model and ability to continue to grow in both relative and absolute terms despite the trading environment.

“The Board believe the Group will continue to be highly cash generative and against that backdrop, have announced our intention is to propose a 8p special dividend in the Spring or early Summer 2019 to return to shareholders the expected proceeds of the QSB sale on top of a materially enhanced regular dividend policy for current and future financial years of paying out 50% of our adjusted net earnings.”

GVC Holdings Announces Acquisition Of Neds Online Sportsbook

Consideration of up to A$95 million agreed

GVC Holdings plc, the multinational sports betting and gaming group, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Neds International for an initial A$68 million (cGBP 37million), with a total maximum consideration of up to A$95 million.

Neds International is a relatively new entrant into the Australian digital sports betting market, having launched in 2017.

Founded by former Ladbrokes Australia chief executive Dean Shannon late last year, Neds runs on a proprietary platform and has made remarkable progress in the local market; it has predicted customer wagering of A$1 billion and revenue of A$100 million for fiscal 2018 ending December 31st.

“Australia is a core market for the Group and today’s acquisition further strengthens our position,” GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander said. “Neds is an exciting business, with talented people and enables us to further grow market share through two differentiated brands.”

Alexander says that combining Neds and Ladbrokes Australia will create one of the three largest businesses in the market capable of achieving annual synergies of around $16 million.

It could also see Neds’ executive chairman Shannon rejoin Ladbrokes Australia, having left the company in February last year to start up a new venture. He first joined the business in September 2013 after Ladbrokes acquired his previous online betting business, Bookmaker.com.au, in a $22.5 million deal (see previous
InfoPowa reports)

However, Ladbrokes Australia has announced that CEO Jason Scott will have responsibility for the merged group on completion of the deal.