While it’s not a 100% done deal, all indications are that Scientific Games is set to acquire WMS. The buyout will have a significant impact across much of the global gambling industry.
Early analysis has focused on how the combined company will fare in the arenas of lottery (Scientific’s area of expertise) and slot development (the core of WMS’ business). I want to briefly talk about how the new venture looks from an online poker point of view.
Scientific/WMS will have a number of intriguing assets that could cumulatively provide the company with a remarkably strong position in the emerging market for regulated online poker in the United States. A non-exhaustive list:
Of course, nothing about the above guarantees that Scientific / WMS will excel in the market for regulated online poker in the U.S..
In fact, there’s little to indicate that online poker will be a priority for Scientific/WMS. The documentation accompanying the WMS acquisition announcement contains zero mentions of online poker. Neither company has a native online poker product. And as Vince Martin notes in his write-up of the buyout at CalvinAyre.com, slots and lottery are the obvious synergistic areas – poker could easily end up an afterthought.
But as the path for regulated online poker in the United States bends harder and harder toward the state level, the strength of Scientific/WM’s position may come be such that the company is compelled to commit substantial focus and resources to online poker. And if other states follow Nevada’s lead by using online poker as the trial / launch product for online gambling, the company will have little choice but to aggressively promote an online poker product.