Bally's expands share buyback authorization to $350 million, looks to focus on its online expansion going forward

Gamesys CEO To Lead Combined Company Following $2.7 Billion Acquisition By Bally’s

Colorado and Iowa are the only places you can currently play at Bally Bet sportsbooks, but the brand is going to be expanding soon. To that end, today Bally’s Corporation finalized its $2.7 billion acquisition of Gamesys Group, a leading global iGaming operator based in the UK.

Search results for the former UK operator now pull up, “Gamesys, a Bally’s Corporation Company.” GamesysGroup.com also now touts that the acquired company is positioned for future growth “in an evolving global sector.”

Bally’s has been on a bit of a spending spree, but may slow down after this. In a separate announcement today, it said it is expanding its existing share repurchase authorization to $350 million. The announcement specifically names the Gamesys closing and a “strong balance sheet” as reasons for doing so. It still has the monetary flexibility to buy what it needs in future, and is now looking to enhance long-term shareholder value, according to the announcement.

Gamesys CEO to lead combined company

A corporate reorganization accompanied today’s announcement about Gamesys:

  • Gamesys CEO Lee Fenton will now serve as Bally’s CEO.
  • Bally’s CEO George Papanier will assume the role of President, Retail, for Bally’s land-based casino business, and
  • Gamesys COO Robeson Reeves will assume the role of President, Interactive.

In other words, the Board of Directors sees Gamesys and the online channel as so important to Bally’s future that they want Fenton to be the one leading the company forward. Papanier will stick to what he knows best, which is the traditional, retail portion of the business.

Fenton said today:

“Our business is transforming from being a regional casino operator into an industry leader in retail, sports, media and iGaming, which will see us bringing together a set of assets that gives us a formidable platform for growth as a digital-first leader in global gaming entertainment.”

Gamesys is going to help Bally Bet expand into online casino

Bally’s Board Chairman Soohyung Kim told Online Poker Report a few months ago that Gamesys would be integral to Bally Bet’s future and make it a market leader.

“This merger will prepare Bally’s to provide the next gen experience to jurisdictions across the US. The combination of the online and physical casino options will allow Bally’s to provide a user experience unlike anything else in the market right now.”

At the time, Bally Bet’s Colorado sportsbook had just debuted on May 24. The one in Iowa followed soon after. Bally’s has used the online sports betting apps’ first states as beta testing opportunities.

Kim said the pandemic was slowing the growth of US online casinos and Bally’s wasn’t in a hurry. He believed the online world needed a more functional offline world to succeed.

He told OPR:

“While Bally’s land-based casinos have physical card rooms, we don’t currently have an online product. One of the many reasons we’re excited about the partnership with Gamesys is so that we’re able to offer that online option, too. The balance between the physical and online experiences is what we’re striving to continue to develop and ultimately perfect. We’re excited for what comes next, we have a lot of innovative projects in the works.”

Gamesys will enhance the Bally Bet offerings

Player data from both Bally’s and Gamesys, as well as “Gamesys’ proven technology platform” will boost the capabilities of the combined companies. Together, their range of activities now includes:

  • land-based casino games,
  • retail casino operation,
  • online casino products,
  • retail and online sports betting,
  • poker,
  • bingo,
  • daily fantasy sports, and
  • free-to-play games.

Bally’s hasn’t yet launched an online casino under its own brand. That will likely be happening soon, however, as it has market access in New Jersey through its own Atlantic City casino.

According to today’s release from Bally’s, Gamesys will complement the offerings the company’s been amassing for 18 months. Most notably, the Bally Interactive division consists of Bally Bet, Bet.Works, Monkey Knife Fight and SportCaller.

What that means is Bally’s has already added the capabilities of some of its more recent acquisitions, and Gamesys will help Bally’s complete its vision.

As BallyBet.com contends about its online sportsbooks in Colorado and Iowa:

“We’ve built Bally Bet into one of the most connected online sportsbooks available today. Within the mobile betting app, you can follow your friends, share wagers and challenge them for ultimate bragging rights. What’s more is you can earn real-life casino rewards for all of your online sports betting activity. Bally Rewards points are redeemable for gaming, dining, merchandise and more at Bally’s casinos, nationwide.”

So far, however, what Bally Bet lists here is already available from other operators. For instance, DraftKings Social went live in June and operators from BetMGM Casino to Caesars Sportsbook already integrate their loyalty programs with their apps.

As of this afternoon, Bally’s stock rose slightly from the previous market close – from $53.08 to $53.15.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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