Stars Group to Acquire Sky Betting and Gaming for $4.7 Billion

Posted on: April 23, 2018, 08:18h. 

Last updated on: April 23, 2018, 09:28h.

The Stars Group, formerly Amaya, has announced it will acquire UK online gambling firm Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) for $4.7 billion, in a deal that will see the PokerStars parent become a major player in the sports betting sector just as the US stands on the verge of possibly legalizing sports books nationwide.

Stars Group to buy SBG
Stars Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi said he believed the transaction will provide the Stars Group with huge growth potential. SBG has the largest active online player base in the UK and generates 80 percent of its revenues through mobile. (Image: The Stars Group)

The cash and stock deal will create the world’s largest publicly traded online gambling company and will represent a “landmark moment in The Stars Group’s history,” according to company CEO Rafi Ashkenazi, in an official statement.

The group has long wanted to be a sports-betting big hitter. Following its $4.9 billion purchase of PokerStars in 2014, the Canadian company wasted little time in launching the BetStars sports book and integrating it into its core poker platform.

In 2016, it negotiated a $6 billion merger with betting giant William Hill, but was ultimately rebuffed by the latter’s shareholders. It subsequently got its hands on William Hill’s Australian sports betting operations through its acquisition of CrownBets earlier this year.

Valuation on the High Side

Thanks largely to its association with UK broadcaster Sky, which has long held the rights to broadcast Premier League soccer, SBG has become one of the biggest betting and gaming operators in the UK, particularly in mobile sports betting, which generates 80 percent of its revenues.

Through its Sky Bet, Sky Vegas, and Sky Casino brands, SBG has the largest active online player base in the UK, which is one of the world’s largest regulated online gaming markets.

But the price could be considered high for a company that, until recently, was planning a London IPO with a valuation touted as somewhere between £2.5 billion ($3.48 billion) and £3 billion ($4.18 billion). SBG’s unaudited annual revenue was £624 million ($870M) last year.

Transatlantic Powerhouse

“SBG operates one of the world’s fastest growing sportsbooks and is one of the United Kingdom’s leading gaming providers,” said Ashkenazi. “SBG’s premier sports betting product is the ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform. The ability to offer two low-cost acquisition channels of this magnitude provides The Stars Group with great growth potential and will significantly increase our ability to create winning moments for our customers.

“Following this transaction, The Stars Group will have significantly enhanced scale and a highly regarded global brand portfolio,” he added.

The Stars Group said the deal will enable it to cross-sell to players across all verticals. It will also help it improve its own technology through the acquisition of SBG’s portfolio of innovative mobile apps.

The group will also be hoping that its new sports betting prowess in the UK and Europe will provide it with a springboard into the US market, should that avenue open up.