An In-Depth Look at The Acquisitions and Mergers in the iGaming Industry

The iGaming industry has seen a surge in strategic acquisitions and mergers, shaping its landscape. Thanks to a new iGaming M&A database launched by the popular UK affiliate Bojoko.com, we can now dive into these numbers in detail. 

This data set shows that there has been a consistent and notable increase in acquisitions within the industry over the last two decades. The price tag has also risen, with a long list of billion-dollar deals taking place.

In this article, we will analyse the study and see how the iGaming sector has changed over the years.

Annual Transactions and Values

Over the past decade, the iGaming sector has witnessed a surge in mergers and acquisitions, reflecting the industry’s rapid expansion and evolution. A closer look at the data reveals intriguing patterns:

  • Number of Transactions: Over the period spanning from 2001 to 2023, the iGaming industry has seen a consistent uptick in mergers and acquisitions. In 2001, there was only 1 recorded sale between Sportingbet and Sportsbooks.com, and in 2011, the number of sales had increased to 12. However, by the end of the year 2023, the sales numbers skyrocketed to 77.
  • Value of Transactions: In tandem with the surge in transaction volume, the total value of mergers and acquisitions within the iGaming sector has witnessed substantial growth. Starting with smaller transactions under $500M in the early 2000s, the industry peaked in 2022 when the total sales increased to $19,109.4M.

Biggest Movers and Spenders

Among the myriad of deals in the iGaming sector, certain brands stand out as the biggest players in the field:

  • Flutter Entertainment (formerly Paddy Power Betfair plc): Flutter Entertainment is known for its aggressive expansion strategy. It has been actively pursuing mergers and acquisitions to fuel its growth trajectory. Its bold moves have garnered attention and reshaped the competitive dynamics of the industry. In 2020, it made its biggest deal by buying Fanduel for $4.2B. Since its founding year, Flutter Entertainment has spent approximately $6.7B in acquisitions.
  • Entain (formerly GVC Holdings): Entain has been actively involved in acquisitions and mergers in the iGaming sector. Entain’s notable acquisitions include the purchase of bwin.party Digital Entertainment in 2016 for $1.6 billion, and the acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral in 2017 for $5.2B.
  • 888 Holdings: 888 Holdings is a well-known online gambling company offering casino games, poker, and sports betting. It has made several acquisitions over the years, including the purchase of Bwin.Party’s “B2C” division in 2015 for approximately $1.4 billion.
  • William Hill: William Hill has been a prominent player in the iGaming industry for many years, offering sports betting, casino games, and online poker. It has undergone several acquisitions and mergers, including the purchase of Mr. Green & Co. AB in 2018 for €271 million ($320.26M).

The Top 10 Deals in the iGaming Sector

  1. Paddy Power and Betfair merge: Value: $7 billion (2015)
  2. Brookfield Business Partners acquires Scientific Games: Value: $5.8 billion (2022)
  3. Entain (as GVC Holdings) acquires Ladbrokes Coral: Value: $5.2 billion (2017)
  4. Scientific Games acquires Bally Technologies: Value: $5.1 billion (2014)
  5. Amaya Gaming Group acquires PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker: Value: $4.9 billion (2014)
  6. Tabcorp acquires Tatts: Value: $4.9 billion (2016)
  7. Gtech acquires IGT: Value: $4.7 billion (2014)
  8. Lottomatica and Gtech merge: Value $4.7 billion (2006)
  9. The Stars Group acquires Sky Betting & Gaming: Value: $4.7 billion (2018)
  10. Flutter Entertainment acquires Fanduel: Value: $4.2 billion (2020)

The top 10 biggest iGaming acquisitions to this day show that, nowadays, a sale has to reach over the threshold of $4.7 billion to make it to the top list of all time. This threshold was actually set as early as 2006 when the very first billion-dollar merger happened between Lottomatica and GTECH Holdings.

The most interesting year concerning the top 10 list was 2014. Even though there were only 12 sales made in 2014, three of them are still on the list and make up 30% of the total top deals. In addition, Amaya Gaming Group acquired PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in 2014. This had a massive influence on the iGaming sector as it allowed PokerStars to return to the U.S. market after it was banned in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Trends and Patterns

The data provided by Bojoko shows that the acquisition trends have affected the number of small businesses the most since large companies are acquiring smaller competitors. A recent example is from 2023, when Entain acquired six smaller companies for a sales total of approximately $2.5M.

Another critical trend is the globalisation of the iGaming industry, evidenced by the cross-border nature of many high-profile deals – such as British William Hill acquiring Malta-based Mr Green or Canadian Amaya’s purchase of Costa Rica-originated PokerStars.

This global expansion strategy reflects companies’ desires to mitigate risks associated with regulatory changes in single markets by distributing their operational presence across multiple jurisdictions. As such, the industry is moving towards a more interconnected and less regionally isolated framework.

Furthermore, the technological evolution within the iGaming sector plays a crucial role in shaping mergers and acquisitions. Companies are not just buying out competitors; they are acquiring new technologies, platforms, and innovative startups to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. This trend towards embracing digital transformation underscores the importance of technology in driving future growth and enhancing user experiences.