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Esports Entertainment agrees $43m double acquisition

| By Robin Harrison
Online tournament and adult gaming business Esports Entertainment Group has entered into an agreement to acquire B2B software business ggCircuit and esports center operator Helix eSports for an estimated $43m (£32.9m/€36.4m).
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The deal forms part of Esports Entertainment’s strategy of creating a vertically integrated esports business by combining technology, physical venues, esports betting and real-money igaming.

The business’s technology component has been bolstered by the deal for ggCircuit, which provides cloud-based management for LAN centers, a tournament platform and integrated wallet and point of sale solutions for enterprise customers. 

It currently operates a network of more than 1,000 locations, working with businesses such as GameStop, Dell, Best Buy and Lenovo, as well as universities including Ohio State, Syracuse and North Carolina. Its ggLeap product has logged over 60m hours of usage by more ethan 2m unique gamers, on tens of thousands of public gaming screens around the world. 

The Helix eSports deal, meanwhile, sees Esports Entertainment take charge of its five esports centers, including two of the five largest in the US. At these venues, they deliver esports programming, gaming infrastructure, and related services, for casual play, competitive tournaments and player boot camps. 

Helix also owns Genji Analytics, which provides analytics solutions to help teams and publishers make data-driven business decisions for matching up players for tournaments and drafting new talent. Genji already works with esports publishers and leagues such as Fifa and the NBA 2K League, and aims to expand its addressable market by delivering solutions to players. 

Also included in the deal is the supplier’s LANduel peer-to-peer wagering platform, that allows for skill-based betting on third-party titles. This incorporates 4-factor authentication to ensure games are played fairly, and ID verification. 

As well as working closely with a number of major – but unnamed – publishers, LANduel is also working on a skill-based wagering pilot program with the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement.

Esports Entertainment noted that once the model is proven at Helix eSports locations, it would look to scale the solution to other centers in ggCircuit’s network, then directly into players’ homes. 

The operator’s chief executive Grant Johnson said the deals for Helix and ggCircuit had created “the most diversified, US-listed esports entertainment asset in the entire ecosystem”.

“These acquisitions significantly strengthen our Three Pillar Strategy, adding state-of-the-art esports entertainment centers, an esports-focused vertical enterprise software business, a best-in-class esports analytics platform, and a player-vs-player skill-based wagering platform to our diversified asset base,” Johnson said. 

“Together with what we’ve already built and further near-term acquisition opportunities, Esports Entertainment Group is well on its way to becoming a global industry leader.” 

The $43m deals have significantly expanded the range and breadth of services the business offers, following a flurry of recent M&A. In July Esports Entertainment finalised a deal for real-money betting and gaming operator Argyll Entertainment, following this with an agreement to acquire assets owned by Flip Sports, a peer-to-peer competitive gaming solutions provider, in September.

It is in the process of acquiring the Esports Gaming League (EGL), a British online and land-based tournament operator, having announced that deal in August.

Further acquisitions are understood to be in the offing, aided by a partnership with independent capital markets adviser Akur Capital. That agreement, as reported in July, sees Akur act as the sole advisor to Esports Entertainment in relation to M&A activity in the online gambling sector. 

This activity followed in the wake of the business completing its listing on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in April. While the business had originally expected to post revenue of $13m for its 2021 fiscal year, it plans to update projections once the Helix and ggCircuit deals close. 

For the fiscal year to 30 June 2022, guidance has been increased significantly, from $25m to $42m. 

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