Playtech inks DC Comics licensing deal, stays mum on OpenBet intentions

playtech-dc-comicsOnline gambling technology providers Playtech have inked a deal to license some of DC Comics’ most iconic characters.

On Monday, Playtech announced it had signed a multi-year deal with Warner Brothers Consumer Products. The deal will allow Playtech to incorporate many of DC Comics’ most recognizable superhero movie characters into real-money online gambling products.

Playtech says it intends to rollout omni-channel games based on the 1960’s Batman television series, the early-1980s Superman films starring Christopher Reeve, the 2013 Man of Steel reboot, plus the 2011 Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds. Playtech CEO Mor Weizer said his company looked forward to “a long and prosperous relationship” with Warner Bros.

Weizer has been less vocal about rumors that Playtech is looking to acquire rival gambling technology provider OpenBet. Talk began circulating late last year that OpenBet’s private equity owners, Vitruvian Partners, had retained Morgan Stanley to see what interest it could drum up for OpenBet, which Vitruvian acquired in 2011 for £208m.

Playtech’s name has been bandied about as one of the parties kicking OpenBet’s tires, along with bookmakers William Hill and Paddy Power. Playtech has been on the acquisition hunt ever since the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Central Bank of Ireland blocked (respectively) Playtech’s takeover of the Plus500 and Ava Trade forex businesses, leaving Playtech with around a billion dollars in spare cash.

Vitruvian has reportedly slapped a £300m price tag on OpenBet, but Gaming Intelligence reported that Playtech largest shareholder Teddy Sagi (pictured) – whose past transgressions were believed to have prompted the FCA to block the Plus500 deal – was seeking an upside of a multiple of 12 to 13, making it unlikely he’d approve any bid higher than £200m.

Last week, The Times suggested that Hills had emerged as the bidding war’s frontrunner. Hills’ interest may be purely defensive in nature, as it relies on OpenBet for its sports betting platform, as do the majority of the UK’s major players.

Hills has a troubled history with Playtech – a former partner in the William Hill Online joint venture – and has been systematically reducing its reliance on Playtech’s online casino products since the 2011 dustup in Tel Aviv. It’s not hard to imagine that Hills would not wish to find itself once again beholden to its former partner, particularly as Hills girds its loins to do battle with the UK market newly merged behemoths.