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UK – Bally’s makes play for Gamesys as it continues its growth strategy

By - 25 March 2021

North American omni-channel gaming group Bally’s, which owns a host of land-based and digital gaming brands in the US, has agreed a top-line $2bn deal with the founders of UK-facing online gaming operator Gamesys, which also runs the online arm of Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino and Virgin Casino in the US.

Bally’s has proposed acquiring the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Gamesys. The likely deal would see Gamesys’ shareholders exchange their stake for 0.343 newly issued Bally’s shares for each Gamesys share. That deal would limit the maximum amount of cash to be paid in the deal at £1.6bn.

The deal would ‘accelerate Bally’s long-term growth strategy, the objective of which is to become the premier, truly integrated, omni-channel US gaming company with a B2B2C business.’

Gamesys currently offers bingo and casino games to its players using brands which include Jackpotjoy, Virgin Games, Botemania, Vera&John, Heart Bingo, Megaways, Rainbow Riches Casino and Monopoly Casino. Gamesys’ existing platform would benefit from Bally’s ‘fast-growing land-based and online platform in the US, providing market access through Bally’s operations in key states as the nascent iGaming and sports betting opportunity develops at this pivotal moment in the market’s evolution.’

The statement released to announce the deal read: “The Gamesys Board and Bally’s Board believe that the Possible Combination has a compelling strategic and financial rationale, would create long-term value for both Gamesys and Bally’s and would be consistent with Bally’s and Gamesys’ respective long-term growth strategies.
“Gamesys would benefit from Bally’s fast-growing land-based and online platform in the United States, providing market access through Bally’s operations in key states as the nascent iGaming and sports betting opportunity develops in the US. Bally’s would benefit from Gamesys’ proven technology platform, expertise and highly respected and experienced management team across the online gaming field. The combined group would be well positioned to capitalise on the full range of opportunities present both in the US and beyond.”

Each of the former founding investors of Gamesys, being Noel Hayden, Andrew Dixon and Robin Tombs along with Lee Fenton and Robeson Reeves, both of whom it is intended would hold an executive role in the combined group. Gamesys’ CEO, Lee Fenton, would become the CEO of the combined group and that two additional Gamesys directors would join Bally’s board. It is further intended that Bally’s CEO, George Papanier, would remain a member of the board and a senior executive running the retail casino business.

Soo Kim, Chairman of Bally’s, said:”We believe that this combination would mark a transformational step in our journey to become a leading integrated, omni-channel gaming company with a B2B2C business. We think that Gamesys’ proven technology platform alongside its highly respected and experienced management team, combined with the US market access that Bally’s provides, should allow the combined group to capitalise on the significant growth opportunities in the US sports betting and online markets.

“We are truly excited about the opportunities that this combination would offer and the enhanced and comprehensive experience and product offering that it would enable us to offer our customers.”

Lee Fenton, CEO of Gamesys, said: “From our first meeting to now it has been the entrepreneurial energy of the two businesses that has brought us to the edge of creating a uniquely powerful company. Our shared passion and vision to capitalise on technology disruption to better serve our customers, wherever they may be, should make for an exciting journey for our employees, customers and shareholders alike.”

The combined group would be headquartered in Rhode Island, USA, and its shares would retain their listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Bally’s currently owns 11 casinos across seven states, a horse racetrack and 13 authorized off-track betting licenses in Colorado.

Bally’s growth during the pandemic has been unrivalled. It has bought Bet.Works, a US based, sports betting platform provider along with Monkey Knife Fight and SportCaller which provide Bally’s with digital/interactive footprints. It has also signed a long-term strategic partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group that combines its vertically-integrated, proprietary sports betting technology and expansive market access footprint with Sinclair’s portfolio of local broadcast television stations and live regional sports networks, the STIRR streaming service, the Tennis Channel and digital and over-the-air television network Stadium.

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