The Stars Group eyes sports win after Sky Bet deal closes

11 July 2018

The Stars Group believes it now has a sports offering to match its poker after completing its $4.7bn acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming.

PokerStars’ owner first agreed a deal to buy Sky Bet and its various brands from owners CVC Capital Partners and media giant Sky PLC in April. It says it is now “the world's largest publicly listed online gaming company”.

The Stars Group said the deal “dramatically improves The Stars Group's revenue diversity, creating a balanced spread across poker, casino and sportsbook with a broad geographic reach.”

Sky Bet is already one of the UK’s leading betting operators. Last year its revenues soared by 38% to £516m (€585m/$685m), with customers increasing by 31% to 2.6 million. Profit before tax grew by 38 per cent to £146m in the period up to June 30, compared to £105m in 2016. Its surge continued in the first half of this year, with H1 revenue up 58% to £210m. 

"This acquisition represents a pivotal moment in The Stars Group's evolution," said CEO Rafi Ashkenazi (pictured) in a statement.

The Stars Group explained that the deal allows it to develop sports betting “as a second customer acquisition channel”. As well as complementing its core poker offerings it will create an opportunity to cross-sell players across multiple verticals.

The Stars Group’s position is also likely to be strengthened by the incorporation of Sky Bet’s technological expertise, including its sportsbook, casino offerings and portfolio of mobile apps.

Ashkenazi added: "SBG's mobile-focused sportsbook pairs well with our industry-leading poker offering to create two premier customer acquisition channels.

“We believe this combination along with our combined online casino offerings positions The Stars Group for continued growth in the evolving online gaming industry."

The Sky Bet acquisition is seen as another strategic move in enhancing The Stars Group’s global profile and broadening its offerings. The completion comes just months after it also became the majority shareholder in Australia’s CrownBet Holdings and subsequently purchased William Hill Australia, the country’s third biggest betting operator.