IMG Arena owner Endeavor to acquire OpenBet from Scientific Games

| By Robert Fletcher
Scientific Games has agreed to divest its sports betting division OpenBet to global talent and media agency holding company Endeavor Group for $1.20bn (£874.8m/€1.03bn).

Endeavor, which will fund the deal with $1.0bn in cash and $200m in Class A common stock, said the purchase would complement its position within the sports betting market, created through data specialist IMG Arena.

The combination of OpenBet and IMG Arena, Endeavor said, would create a unique end-to-end solution, delivering official data and video streams, content, mobile products and betting technology solutions to leagues, federations and sportsbooks around the world.

OpenBet currently has more than 1,000 team members worldwide and focuses exclusively on licensed customers and regulated markets, serving a customer base that includes major sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel, WynnBet, SkyBet, Ladbrokes and William Hill. 

“OpenBet marks a strategic addition to our sports betting portfolio as we look to round out our technology and product offering for sportsbook operators and sports brands worldwide,” Endeavor chief executive Ariel Emanuel said. 

“The combination of OpenBet and our IMG Arena business will enable us to expand our footprint across the entire sports betting value chain and further capitalise on the tremendous upside we see coming from this fast-growing global industry.”

Scientific Games’ digital business chief executive, Jordan Levin, added: “This transformational announcement combines OpenBet’s market-leading sports betting ecosystem with unparalleled access to sports rights, content and data across the Endeavor portfolio. 

“Together, we are uniquely positioned to define the future of sports betting entertainment. Putting our customers and their players at the heart of our product and technology innovation will remain the key to our ongoing success.”

Levin added that Emmanuel’s vision and leadership for the entertainment industry was “exceptional”, something reflected in Scientific Games taking a stake in Endeavor.

Formerly William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, the holding company currently owns a host of media and talent agencies, and acquired sports, events and talent management business IMG, including its data division IMG Arena, for $2.4bn in 2013.

IMG Arena works with sportsbook brands, leagues and federations, providing services such as live streaming and on-demand virtual sports products. IMG Arena’s rights-holder clients include golf’s PGA Tour and Ryder Cup, the Ultimate Fighting Championship – a business acquired by Endeavor in 2106 – the English Football Association and Major League Soccer.

OpenBet, meanwhile, was acquired by NYX Gaming Group in 2016 for £270.0m, with NYX then acquired by Scientific Games in a CAD$775m (€519.6m/US$626.5m) deal in 2018.

It has been used as part of the solutions giant’s entry into the US sports betting market, until Scientific Games announced in June that it was to divest the unit, alongside its lottery arm, in order to reduce its debt and refocus the business on gaming.

The supplier’s chief executive Barry Cottle said the deal represented “the culmination of a thorough process to divest OpenBet”.

“The transaction is a significant milestone towards optimising our portfolio and de-levering the balance sheet to enhance our financial flexibility,” Cottle explained. “It will position us to invest both organically and inorganically in key growth areas, particularly in content and digital markets.

“We are delivering on our promises and executing on our strategy to transform our company and unlock significant value for employees, customers and shareholders.”

Subject to regulatory consents and approvals, and customary closing conditions, the deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022. The Raine Group served as Endeavor’s financial advisor for the transaction, with Latham & Watkins providing legal advice. Oakvale Capital and Macquarie Capital acted as Scientific Games’ financial advisors, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore as its legal counsel.

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