DraftKings Could Be Pursuing Entain for Technology, Putting MGM in Tough Spot

Posted on: September 27, 2021, 08:28h. 

Last updated on: September 28, 2021, 12:28h.

DraftKings’ (NASDAQ:DKNG) pursuit of Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY) could be centered around acquiring the target’s technology capabilities, potentially putting MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) on the prowl for its own sports wagering tech stack.

DraftKings Entain
Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen, seen above. DraftKings may be pursuing her company for technology, not the BetMGM business. (Image: Sky News)

That idea is mentioned by RoundHill Investments co-founder Will Hershey, who notes that MGM may not be able to block a deal for Entain’s sports wagering technology platform.

DraftKings might really be after Entain’s technology underpinning the BetMGM offering, which may fall outside the scope of MGM’s blocking rights,” said Hershey in a Saturday note. “In such an outcome, DraftKings would put MGM in a difficult position of needing a new tech stack, which hypothetically could result in MGM making an acquisition of their own.”

Last week, DraftKings stunned the gaming industry, floating a $22.4 billion cash and stock bid for Entain. The target confirmed receipt of that proposal and that, days earlier, it rejected a $20.5 billion pitch from the Boston-based sportsbook operator.

The MGM Entain Equation

Entain and MGM are 50/50 partners on the BetMGM venture, which is now the second-largest online sportsbook operator in the US and the top iGaming company in terms of market share.

BetMGM is supported by Entain infrastructure and technology, while the marketing side is driven by MGM and its enviable brand recognition, player database, and portfolio of land-based gaming venues. The casino giant said it’s monitoring the DraftKings/Entain talks and that it’s willing to work with those two parties to come to an amicable resolution. But should DraftKings pursue an all-out takeover of Entain, including the BetMGM stake, MGM clearly states such a deal needs the operator’s approval.

MGM, itself a previous suitor for Entain, wants full control of the BetMGM unit, and it may be able to get that without having to dole out much cash. Speculation is swirling that the casino company could simply buy out Entain or pursue an initial public offering (IPO) of the online gaming enterprise.

If DraftKings is pursuing Entain for technology and to bolster its international exposure, it may be compelled to work with MGM on a resolution for BetMGM. DraftKings hasn’t publicly said if it’s pursuing Entain purely for its tech stack, or if BetMGM is essential to getting a deal done.

Entain’s Other Assets

In addition to the BetMGM stake and its back-end capabilities, Entain brings much more to the table. For example, it’s one of the largest sports betting companies in the UK and Europe by way of its Coral and Ladbrokes brands, among others. Additionally, it’s one of the largest operators in Australia — a desirable sports betting market that DraftKings lacks exposure to. It’s not yet clear how DraftKings plans to handle those businesses should it ultimately acquire Entain.

“Entain’s other assets, which include U.K. brick-and-mortar betting shops (i.e., Ladbrokes Coral) and its non-U.S. online betting brands (i.e. bwin, SportingBet) up for grabs. It’s unclear if DraftKings has a real desire for those assets, despite the attractive relative multiple, as they would potentially dilute DraftKings’ pure-play US growth story,” said Roundhill’s Hershey.

There is some talk that if DraftKings is successful in its pursuit of Entain, the suitor will auction off the target’s UK betting shops in a transaction similar to what Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) recently did with William Hill’s international assets. In fact, such a process would likely draw some of the same parties that kicked the tires on William Hill’s High Street shops.

Under UK law, DraftKings has until Oct. 19 to make a formal offer for Entain.