Lottery tech provider and gaming machine supplier Scientific Games Corp. has acquired slot machine maker and online gaming outfit WMS Industries for the princely sum of $1.42b. The pricetag, representing a 59% premium on WMS’ share value, reflects Scientific Games’ desire to expand its scope. CEO Lorne Weill said the “transformational” acquisition would enable Scientific Games to offer “a complete portfolio of lottery and gaming products and services to both new and existing customers around the world.” CFO Jeffrey Lipkin said the deal would “diversify Scientific Games revenue base, expand margins and propel future growth opportunities.” The acquisition was unanimously approved by both companies’ boards and, pending approval by WMS’ shareholders and a few gaming regulators, should be completed by the end of 2013.
WMS Industries’ recently launched its online gaming subsidiary Williams Interactive, which operates the Jackpot Party social casino and has inked real-money online game supply deals with everyone from Groupe Partouche in Belgium to BCLC in Canada. In fact, Williams Interactive just announced two more European online casino B2B deals with Nordicbet and Betsafe’s Casino Black. WMS has also been approved for a Nevada online poker license and has inked a prospective US-facing online poker partnership with Dragonfish, the B2B offshoot of UK operator 888.
Scientific Games has also applied for a Nevada poker license and had entered into an online poker joint venture in California with Playtech, but that deal was downgraded to a vague non-exclusive commitment last January. Scientific Games also inked a deal with social gamers Zynga to sell instant lottery tickets online, so the combined Scientific/WMS social aspects may have some crossover potential. Scientific Games bundled its non-lottery businesses – pub/club game suppliers Barcrest and Games Media and fixed-odds betting terminal supplier The Global Draw – into subsidiary SG Gaming in October.
Scientific Games also revealed that its VP of strategic marketing, Jimmy O’Brien, has been named as this year’s recipient of the Public Gaming Research Institute’s Lottery Industry Lifetime Achievement Award. O’Brien, a 33-year industry veteran who has been with the firm since 2001, has been credited with revolutionizing the instant scratch game business during his time as director of marketing for the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. Under O’Brien’s guidance, the Lottery’s instant scratch game sales went from $54m/year to $54m/week. (Forget the lifetime achievement award, make the man governor!) O’Brien is the fourth Scientific Games man to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.