It's never a dull day in the online gaming world. Word is out that PokerStars got bought by Flutter. Flutter Entertainment will acquire 54.6% of The Stars Group, while TSG retains 45.4% of the company. This sudden union creates a Frankenstein of online gambling joints with Paddy Power/Betfair/PokerStars. Combined revenues from 2018 were £3.8 billion or $4.6 billion USD. But it's not the poker that the Flutters seek, it's really about the prospective sportsbetting opportunities in the good ole US of A.
Make sure you spell that right... Flutter... and it's not Fluffer, like I initially thought and got redirected to a porn site and I thought, wow, this is kinda cool but then realized the error. I never heard of Flutter before... but I knew about Paddy Power and Betfair's merger. A couple of years ago, online sportsbooks were gobbling each other up. On one side you had GVR and on the other was the newly birthed Flutter.
In 2016, Paddy Power and Betfair merged, which birthed Flutter Entertainment. Paddy Power acquired FanDuel in 2018. Fan Duel started out as a daily fantasy site that pivoted into sportsbooks. Flutter now added The Stars Group to their conglomerate of gaming giants. There's a vote in the 2Q of 2020 with estimates of a full merger by 3Q of 2020.
Also somewhere in this ginormous umbrella corp there' TVG, which Betfair acquired over ten years ago. TVG is known as the Television Games Network, which focuses on horse racing and greyhound racing.
The Stars Group, originally Amaya, acquired PokerStars in 2014 for $4.9 billion. Since then, TSG intended to spin off into the sports world after they easily conquered the casino vertical. TSG acquired a small daily fantasy sports operation in Austin, Texas and spun off StarsDraft for a hot minute. STSG acquired Sky Bet, then cut a deal with FoxSport to create FoxBet.
The merger with Flutter and TSG gives Flutter another valuable in road to the US sportsbetting market via Fox Bet. In addition, Fox Bet has the opportunity to acquire 18.5% of FanDuel.
Flutter's chief executive Peter Jackson said, "The combination represents a great opportunity to deliver a step-change in our presence in international markets and ensure we are ideally positioned to take advantage of the exciting opportunity in the US through a media relationship with FOX Sports as well as our development of US sports betting through Flutter's FanDuel and TSG's FOX Bet brands. We are committed to these two high-quality brands to drive the growth of the combined group in the US."
Lachlan Murdoch, FOX CEO of Fox Corporation summed it up, "We're excited to be able to expand our partnership into FanDuel, which together with FOX Bet, will be a leader in sports wagering in the US."
Even the new boss knows online poker is still a big question mark in the so-called "land of the brave and free" but sportsbetting is blowing up in the USA. You can place a bet in more than 20% of the states and that number is quickly growing. There's no shortage of donks and degens in America and we have multiple sports running year round plus college sports, and the Flutter folks want a piece of that juicy pie.
Meanwhile, what does this means for PokerStars? They recently said goodbye to the PCA in the Bahamas to focus on the 2020 PSPC in Barcelona. You should've known something was going down.
I hope the new British overlords allows Stars do their own thing while the big wigs focus on global domination in the sportsbetting world. They could give PokerStars a chance to get back in touch with their roots and focus more on the poker experience instead of making sure they raked in enough cash to keep the suits and shareholders happy at the next quarterly meeting.
The lucrative future of online gambling in the US is sportsbetting and not online poker. It's been a slow and arduous road to legal online poker in the few states that have them. Just when you thought the small states with online poker were about to share player pools to create a unified pool, the Man came down on hard on them. At this rate, it will be 2049 before there's any online poker worth a damn in America. In the meantime, recreational marijuana and sportsbetting are flourishing. Who woulda thunk the weed and Monday Night Football bets would be legalized before online poker?
It's been a wild couple of weeks with the confirmation of the sale of the Rio to a NYC real estate group and the reassurance from Seth Palansky that the 2020 WSOP will take place at the Rio's convention center as planned. And now it's PokerStars on the block.