Sports Betting, iGaming Consolidation Activity Has Long Runway Ahead, Say Analysts

Posted on: June 29, 2021, 12:40h. 

Last updated on: June 29, 2021, 01:19h.

Still in its nascent stages, the domestic online casino and sports wagering industries are thriving. That growth is expected to add to an already brisk pace of mergers and acquisitions and other transactions.

sports betting M&A
The sportsbook at Meadows Casino in Pennsylvania, pictured above. Analysts expect more consolidation in the industry. (Image: WTRF)

In a dream scenario becoming reality for investment bankers, transaction volume in the regulated sports betting industry is soaring. That’s in the wake of the 2018 Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) as gaming operators look to efficiently enter a fast-growing market segment.

To this end, many of the recent deals have been motivated by the strategic need for cross-border expansion as a potential accelerant to gaining critical mass,” said CFRA Research analysts Andrew Tam and Tuna Amobi in a recent note.

The analysts note that with some iGaming and online sports betting operators struggling to generate cash flow and reach profitability, mergers and acquisitions activity is likely to continue. As the chart below indicates, it’s already going strong.

Sports betting consolidation has been brisk in recent years. (Image: CFRA Research)

DraftKings Template

While a traditional acquisition is often the preferred move by management teams across a variety of industries, special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC) provide another outlet for companies to come to market and unlock value for early investors.

The CFRA analysts note DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) provides a playbook of sorts, having debuted as a public company in April 2020 following a reverse merger with a blank-check firm. At that time, DraftKings was the first publicly traded pure play iGaming and sports betting operator on the market. But it was followed by several other companies that became public entities via SPAC transactions.

“We believe several SPACs are actively seeking out potential acquisitions in this space, while the potential spinoffs and US listings of FanDuel/FOXBet as well as William Hill and Caesars Interactive could add to the urgency for further industry consolidation,” said the CFRA analysts.

Regarding SPAC activity, it remains robust in the gaming space. In recent months, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) revealed plans to bring its Wynn Interactive unit public via a blank-check merger. That news followed Betway parent Super Group revealing a marriage with Sports Entertainment Acquisition Corp. (NYSE:SEAH) in April.

Last week, internet casino and online sports wagering operator Codere Online said it’s merging with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) DD3 Acquisition Corp. II (NASDAQ:DDMX). Earlier today, Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS) said it’s considering divesting its lottery and Don Best sports betting units in a SPAC transaction.

What’s Next for iGaming

The CFRA report doesn’t explore specific ideas for upcoming consolidation in the iGaming and sports betting spaces. But a number of transactions are or may already be in the works, and there’s plenty more rumors to go around.

For example, it’s widely known Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) is shopping William Hill’s non-US assets, and a buyer could be announced in the third or fourth quarter.

Additionally, Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY) is among several bidders for Tabcorp’s media and sports wagering units in Australia. Some analysts believe MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), Entain’s partner on the BetMGM brand, could make another run at the British company after an $11 billion takeover offer was turned back earlier this year.