Evolution Gaming to Acquire NetEnt for $2.1B, Rivals Partnering for ‘Online Evolution’

Posted on: June 24, 2020, 01:40h. 

Last updated on: June 24, 2020, 02:19h.

Evolution Gaming is expected to acquire online gaming rival NetEnt in a deal valued at more than $2 billion. The acquisition will be an all-stock transaction, should it be executed.

Evolution Gaming NetEnt acquisition
Evolution Gaming is known for its B2B live dealer studios (pictured) that allow internet gamblers to interact with an actual human dealer. (Image: Department of Justice)

Evolution Gaming, headquartered in Sweden and publicly traded on the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange, is a company that specializes in business-to-business online live casino services. Evolution has offered NetEnt 19.6 billion Swedish crowns ($2.12 billion USD) in stock for its portfolio of interactive casino games.

The offer represents a 43 percent premium of where NetEnt shares closed at the end of trading yesterday. NetEnt is also based in Sweden and traded on the Stockholm exchange.

After NetEnt’s board of directors recommended accepting the offer, shareholders indicated they, too, would approve of the acquisition.

Online Gaming Leader

Founded in 2006, Evolution Gaming today has eight live gaming studios from which it offers internet casino platforms of  live table games with dealers speaking in the native language of their customers.

Evolution’s studios are located in Latvia, Malta, Georgia, Romania, Canada, Belgium, Spain, and Atlantic City. The company claims to supply more than 300 iGaming operators around the world. Notable clients including DraftKings, William Hill, GVC Holdings, Paddy Power, Svenska Spel, 888, Rush Street Interactive, PokerStars, and Betfair.

NetEnt specializes in online slots. Its game “Narcos” was named the “2019 Best New Slot Game” by Casino.org. Evolution Gaming provides live casino services for Royal Panda, which we named “2019 Best Live Casino.”

Combining the two companies, Evolution Chairman Jens von Bahr says, will position the group as “a market leader in the global online gaming industry.”

“With Evolution’s position in live casino and NetEnt’s position in online slots, the merged company will be well-positioned to capture significant market shares,” said NetEnt Chairman Mathias Hedlund.

Future of Gambling?

In an interview this week with Gambling Insider, Evolution Gaming CEO Martin Carlesund opined that the COVID-19 pandemic that caused the closures of land-based casinos around the globe will have a lasting impact on the industry.

The iGaming executive said he believes the “online evolution” of gambling has only just begun, and that “50-70 percent of casino [revenue] will be online” in the future.

In total, 90 percent of revenue in casinos is still land-based and 10 percent is online,” Carlesund explained. As to when online casinos will surpass brick-and-mortar gaming in terms of revenue, the CEO believes the coronavirus will only expedite play to the internet.

“Maybe this pandemic has increased the speed a bit, but the potential has always been there for online casinos in general,” he concluded.

Morgan Stanley said in an investment note this week that in the post-coronavirus world, gaming companies that have online and sports betting components might be more sound investments than traditional land-based casino operators.

The financial research firm pointed to DraftKings, Eldorado Resorts, and Penn National Gaming as three examples.