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Bally’s strikes $125m Bet.Works deal


Bally’s Corporation, the casino operator formerly known as Twin River Worldwide, has entered into a definitive agreement to a acquire sports betting platform provider Bet.Works in a deal worth up to $125m. 

The operator will take ownership of Bet.Works’ proprietary technology stack and turnkey solutions, including marketing, operations, customer service, risk management and compliance tools. 

Bally’s aims to become “the premier, full-service, vertically integrated sports betting and igaming company in the US” through the deal, using the solutions to power both proprietary and third party offerings. 

The purchase price will be fulfilled half in cash, and half in Bally’s common stock, which Bet.Works shareholders have agreed to hold for at least a year. 

The operator described the deal as the latest step in a long-term growth, development and unification strategy. To date this has seen it significantly expand its casino portfolio, which has grown its network to 14 casinos across 10 states, once all pending transactions are completed.

This M&A drive also saw it acquire the Bally’s brand from Caesars Entertainment, which is to be rolled out across many of the properties, and saw the business change its corporate name. 

“This is the next step in our company’s evolution,” Bally’s Corporation chair Soo Kim said. “By combining our expanding national footprint of casinos, the recently acquired Bally’s brand, and Bet.Works’ proprietary technology stack, we have evolved in just a few short years from a regional casino operator into the first US gaming company committed to serving our customers with an omni-channel approach, combining the best of our physical properties with a superior online experience.” 

The deal will see the business restructured into two distinct operating divisions, with Bally’s Casinos housing its physical gaming and entertainment properties, and Bally’s Interactive serving as the umbrella for Bet.Works’ sports betting operations. 

The supplier is currently live in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa and New Jersey, with partners such as theScore – which has a New Jersey igaming market access deal with Bally’s – and Elite Casino Resorts.

Bally’s president and chief executive George Papanier said owning the technology would not only give Bally’s a long-term margin advantage, but also allow it to rapidly adapt its betting and igaming offerings to customer needs. 

“David Wang and his team at Bet.Works have already demonstrated impressive growth and the ability to execute while creating a differentiated platform,” Papanier continued. “We are very pleased to bring this technology to our more than 14m active customers who will experience Bally’s Casinos and Bally’s Interactive as a unified brand with a single player card and rewards system.”

Founded by Wang, who will serve as Bally’s Interactive CEO once the deal completes in the wake of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act’s repeal in May 2018, Bet.Works currently employs 130 staff across three offices. It will also open a technology development center in Rhode Island, home of the operator’s flagship Twin River properties, by the end of next year.

The business has attracted a host of high-profile investors. These include J Moses, a director of Take-Two Interactive, the owner of Grand Theft Auto publisher Rockstar Games, and Tony Forstmann, a founding partner of Forstmann-Leff & Associates, one of the first hedge funds in the US

“We are pleased to be joining the Bally’s family, which has demonstrated a remarkable track record of growth and diversification with a proven management team,” Wang commented. 

“Bet.Works will continue to offer our best in class solutions to our existing B2B clients and our future partners in the US market as we expand our reach into newly regulated states,” he said. “Bally’s is the perfect home for Bet.Works as it will allow us to continue to grow and innovate.”

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter fo 2021, subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

Bally’s has also announced the closing of one of the deals agreed as part of its M&A drive, finalising its $25m deal to acquire Caesars Entertainment’s Bally’s Atlantic City property from the operator and real estate investment trust Vici Partners. 

“We strongly believe in the potential of the Atlantic City market and are confident that we can restore Bally’s to its former glory,” Papanier commented. “We are pleased to close on this transaction, which represents the latest addition in our ongoing portfolio diversification strategy, and look forward to implementing our capital improvement plans to completely renovate the property with first-in-class amenities and offerings. 

“We have a proven track record of implementing strategic initiatives at acquired properties in order to drive growth and revenue improvements, and plan to bring the iconic property to a level not seen in years.”

Ownership of the property gives Bally’s access to three sports betting and five igaming skins in the state. Two of the sports betting skins have been allocated to Esports Entertainment Group and betting exchange start-up Sporttrade, while PointsBet and theScore will operate igaming under Bally’s master license. FanDuel, meanwhile, is to launch a retail sportsbook at the property, which is due to debut soon.

Read iGB North America’s February interview with Bet.Works founder and CEO David Wang here.

iGB North America also talked to Bally’s Corporation CEO George Papanier earlier this year, which can be read here.