What’s less clear is how the market will look once the dust settles.
First, three quick notes:
The most likely post-acquisition scenario is that all brands contribute to a single shared network powered by one platform (almost certainly the 888 platform):
This scenario is similar to the above with one major distinction: 888 shutters the Party NJ brand.
Why would 888 elect to close an active brand in the market?
Here 888 would bring the Party brand (or at least the player base) over to the 888 / WSOP network, but lose Borgata.
How would they lose Borgata? The casino might decide that the acquisition offers an opportunity to broker a better deal and jump ship when 888 balks at a higher price.
Or Borgata may survey the landscape and simply decide that PokerStars makes a better partner.
In any case, the disruption caused by the acquisition certainly opens the door for a shift in the status quo when it comes to Borgata.
This scenario could result more from pragmatic need than optimal strategy.
The marriage of 888 and bwin.party will be a complex, extended affair. And figuring out how to handle New Jersey will be incredibly low on the priority list.
The easiest path is to just keep things as they are.
And it may well be that once that path is followed for a time, it simply continues to be the path followed – especially if the perception is at 888 that there’s little hope for material expansion of the U.S. regulated market.
Continuing on the theme of 888 becoming disinterested in the U.S. market: with an overall package containing the lead in the NJ market, a monopoly in Delaware and licensure in Nevada, 888 may decide that there’s more sense in selling than slogging through the integration on the U.S. side.
It’s no secret that 888 has been disappointed in the U.S. as a market, or that the relationship with Caesars has been less than completely aligned at a variety of points.
While 888 may be a willing seller, the trickier end of this scenario is finding a willing and suitable buyer.
A longshot scenario that involves Borgata wishing to remain independent of the 888 / WSOP network but not willing or able to jump to the PokerStars network.
It’s not impossible, but it seems highly improbable, as it would weaken Borgata’s position and represent a significant cost for 888 (relative to the NJ market potential).