A pair of sports betting deals has the gaming industry asking, ‘Who’s next?’


Fanatics founder & CEO Michael Rubin at his office in downtown NYC, Dec. 7, 2022.

The Washington Post | Getty Images

Fanatics’ splashy $150 million acquisition of PointsBet’s U.S. business wasn’t the only deal in gambling in recent days — and it could be a sign of more to come.

Fanatics on Sunday announced it has agreed to buy PointsBet’s U.S. assets, a long-rumored tie-up. Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin previously vowed to launch sports betting operations in every state where it’s legal, except New York.

Buying PointsBet gives Fanatics market access in New York, along with some 14 other states, and importantly its iGaming, or online casino games, business in Michigan.

For Fanatics, the deal really pays off when it comes to upfront licensing fees it would need to pay in new states.

“We’re really able to save tens of millions of dollars worth of upfront license fees by leveraging PointsBets footprint versus going at it with a new footprint,” said Matt King, Fanatics CEO of Betting and Gaming, on Monday.

King also said the cost to enter new markets has declined between 40% and 50% compared to where it was roughly three to five years ago.

Fanatics Betting & Gaming CEO on m&a activity

Now compare that to another blockbuster deal in the sector: the $1.2 billion acquisition of NeoGames by Aristocrat. The deal, announced Sunday, was for $29.50 a share, marking a 130% premium to NeoGames’ closing price Friday.

Aristocrat is a global leader in attention-getting slot machines. With its purchase of NeoGames, it’s declaring its intent to compete in online lottery, casino and sports betting.

As Jeffries gaming analyst David Katz wrote in a note Sunday night, “[NeoGames] and the digital gaming group in general, is undervalued by the US market at present levels.” Still, he doesn’t expect higher valuations in the near future.

Just as importantly, according to Katz, the recent deals raise the question of, “Who’s Next?”

As the buzz over mergers and acquisitions dominates at gaming conferences, speculation has fallen on SportRadar, a global sports data provider, as a potential takeover target, as well as Gambling.com, an affiliate business that provides media content to funnel new depositors toward gaming operators.

Rush Street Interactive, another frequent target of acquisition speculation as of late, is working to flex its muscle as an iGaming operator first, sports betting house second.

At the SBC Summit, a top sports gambling conference, last week CNBC asked RSI CEO Richard Schwartz whether he’s entertaining offers.

“We have an obligation to shareholders and to get the best return we can. And so we’re always open to evaluate opportunities,” he said, before highlighting the reasons why RSI would be attractive.

Rush Street Interactive CEO on M&A opportunities

Fanatics’ King agrees more consolidation is likely on the way.

“There really is no new capital kind of coming into this category,” he said. “Anybody without a sustainable business model is going to be ripe for an acquisition.”

But don’t expect sky-high prices when it comes to gaming acquisitions, King said.

“I think certainly people’s price expectations have started to reflect reality,” he added.

— CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this report.

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