By WAYNE PARRY
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Two major casino companies announced deals Monday with daily fantasy sports providers as they seek to expand their reach and integrate different forms of fan engagement with professional sports into their gambling operations.
In the first deal, announced Monday morning, Bally’s continued its acquisition juggernaut by acquiring the daily fantasy sports company Monkey Knife Fight in an all-stock transaction that further widens the fast-growing company’s drive to add casino, online sports betting and media companies.
Later in the day, Caesars Entertainment announced a strategic investment in SuperDraft, a daily fantasy sports company launched in September 2019, with the option to acquire the whole company over time.
Daily fantasy sports involves players assembling virtual rosters of professional athletes, and then competing against others based on the performance of those athletes in real life. It is played just for fun, as well as for cash.
There has been growing synergy between daily fantasy sports and sports betting; two of the original dominant fantasy providers, DraftKings and FanDuel, have become leading sports betting bookmakers in the U.S.
Providence, Rhode Island-based Bally’s becomes the third U.S. sports betting company to have a daily fantasy sports component, along with DraftKings and FanDuel.
Bally’s has been on a tear in recent months, adding gambling and media properties as it aims to become a major national player.
“With this acquisition, we are pleased to enter into the high-growth (daily fantasy sports) market,” said George Papanier, the company’s president and CEO. “Monkey Knife Fight is a unique asset that we look forward to incorporating into Bally’s constantly growing omnichannel portfolio of land-based casinos and iGaming platforms.”
Bally’s recent moves include the purchase of Bally’s casino in Atlantic City, a media partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group and its pending acquisition of Bet.Works.
The company plans to integrate Monkey Knife Fight’s geographic presence in 37 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada, with Sinclair’s portfolio of 21 regional sports networks.
Monkey Knife fight has about 180,000 registered users, 80,000 of whom have made monetary deposits in order to play.
Papanier said Monkey Knife Fight will support Bally’s plans to develop a potential customer database in states that have not yet adopted sports betting but which are considered lucrative potential markets, including California, Florida and Texas, as well as in Canada.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.
Caesars did not divulge the amount of its investment in SuperDraft, which operates in more than 35 states.
“We’re super excited to be part of Caesars’ powerful gaming ecosystem,” said Steve Wang, CEO and founder of SuperDraft. “Daily fantasy players deserve a breath of fresh air, and we’re here to transform the industry. SuperDraft is now well-positioned to accelerate its growth with financial staying power while broadening its consumer appeal with bigger contests and better rewards to players of all interest levels.”
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