The pace of mergers and acquisitions activity in the gaming industry is brisk this year. Analysts expect that to continue, with the digital realm likely be an epicenter of consolidation.
At the industry level, sports betting commands plenty of attention, and it’s been a hotbed of takeover activity and rumors. But iGaming offers more attractive margins, and is likely to grow faster, because it’s legal in fewer states today than is sports wagering. Goldman Sachs forecasts iGaming could balloon to $14 billion in revenue in 2033 from $1.5 billion today. That’s good for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 percent for more than a decade.
Growth estimates like that are sparking analysts to speculate that the digital gaming landscape is ripe for more consolidation. Reporting back from the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, Jefferies analyst David Katz claims gaming companies of all sizes will participate in consolidation that focus on digital and online offerings.
We expect companies both large and small to remain active on both sides of digital M&A, as suppliers and operators focus on building competitive positioning and broader capabilities,” said the analyst.
Among the gaming equities Jefferies is constructive on are Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) — a company with a knack for acquisitions — and Everi Holdings (NYSE:EVRI).
In iGaming M&A, Valuations not a Priority
Gaming companies are realizing that internet casinos are drivers of future growth, and that bringing technology in-house boosts efficiencies and profitability. Those are points that underscore why traditional casino operators are on the prowl for assets in these arenas.
Earlier this year, MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle said online casinos are “the secret to this business,” and that it will eventually be two-thirds of the bottom line in the space. Add all those factors together, and it’s possible that suitors will place more emphasis on a target’s assets and tech capabilities than valuations.
“From this perspective, we believe valuations are secondary to validated capabilities, as the Street’s focus shifts to technology and content from access to markets and customers,” adds Katz. “We therefore believe it is appropriate to continue more positively skewed ratings on both casino operators and equipment and technology providers.”
The analyst has “buy” ratings on Bally’s (NYSE:BALY) and business-to-business tech provider GAN Ltd. (NASDAQ:GAN). Bally’s is viewed primarily as a land-based casino operator, but its iGaming and sports wagering footprints are growing. Through a slew of acquisitions, the company is one of the most vertically integrated firms in the industry.
Slots, Social Gaming M&A Plays, Too
Katz notes gaming suppliers are looking to leverage content from traditional slot machines and table games for consumption in the iGaming and social casino spaces. That could prompt consolidation.
He has “buy” ratings on International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT) and Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS). Last month, IGT said it’s forming a dedicated digital and betting unit, while Scientific Games is attempting to acquire the 19 percent of social casino developer SciPlay Corp. (NASDAQ:SCPL) it doesn’t currently own.