Fanatics PointsBet and Aristocrat NeoGames deals could be a sign of more progress

Fanatics Founder and CEO Michael Rubin at his office in downtown NYC, December 7, 2022.

The Washington Post | Getty Images

Fanatics’ spectacular $150 million takeover of PointsBet’s US operations wasn’t the only gambling deal in recent days – and could be a sign of more to come.

Fanatics announced on Sunday that it has agreed to buy PointsBet’s US assets, a long-rumoured connection. Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin previously promised to launch sportsbooks in every state where sports betting is legal, except New York.

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The purchase of PointsBet gives Fanatics access to the market in New York and about 14 other states, and most importantly to its iGaming or online casino games business in Michigan.

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

“We are truly able to save tens of millions of dollars in upfront royalties by leveraging PointsBets’ presence rather than starting with a new one,” said Matt King, CEO of Betting and Gaming at Fanatics, on Monday .

King also said the cost of entering new markets is down 40 to 50 percent compared to about three to five years ago.

CEO of Fanatics Betting & Gaming on M&A activity

Now compare that to another blockbuster deal in the industry: the $1.2 billion acquisition of NeoGames from aristocrat. The deal announced on Sunday is for $29.50 per share, a 130% premium to NeoGames’ Friday closing price.

Aristocrat is a global leader in attention-grabbing slots. With the purchase of NeoGames, the company expresses its intention to become competitive in the online lottery, casino and sports betting areas.

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

Just as importantly, according to Katz, the recent deals beg the question, “Who’s next?”

As M&A excitement reigns supreme at gaming conferences, there is speculation about SportRadar, a global sports data provider, as a potential takeover target, as well as, an affiliate company that provides media content to attract new depositors to gaming operators.

Rush Street Interactiveanother frequent target of takeover speculation lately, is working first to prove its strengths as an iGaming operator and then as a sportsbook.

At the SBC Summit, a top sports gambling conference, last week, CNBC asked RSI CEO Richard Schwartz if he was okay with offers.

“We have an obligation to shareholders and to achieve the best possible return. So we’re always open to exploring opportunities,” he said, before highlighting reasons why RSI would be attractive.

Rush Street Interactive CEO on M&A Opportunities

Fanatics’ King agrees further consolidation is likely.

“There’s really no new capital in this category,” he said. “Anyone who does not have a sustainable business model is ripe for a takeover.”

However, don’t expect inflated prices when it comes to gaming acquisitions, King said.

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

— CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this report. Fanatics PointsBet and Aristocrat NeoGames deals could be a sign of more progress

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