US gaming firm Bally’s snaps up free-to-play games developer
Horses Mouth, an Irish gaming software business, has been sold to US-based gaming company Bally’s in a deal worth up to €40m.
The Dublin-based company, which trades as SportCaller provides software to the sports and sports betting industry.
The business-to-business firm develops free-to-play (F2P) games for companies, these games are then played by sports fans.
SportCaller’s customers include Flutter Entertainment’s Paddy Power-Betfair, Coral, William Hill, Virgin Bet and CBS Sports.
Details of the sale were not disclosed in statements from either Bally’s or SportCaller. However, a regulatory filing from Bally’s states that it has paid €20m in cash for SportCaller and the equivalent of €10m worth of Bally’s shares.
The owners of SportCaller will receive up to €10m in value of additional shares if the company meets certain performance targets.
SportCaller works with most of the big gaming companies in Europe and more recently it has started working with some companies in the United States.
It employs 15 people, including 12 in Dublin. A further 40 developers work for the firm in Kiev, Ukraine.
Sources say the company initially looked at raising some funding to expand in the United States on the back of the 2018 US Supreme Court ruling which allows American states to legalise sports betting.
However, there was more appetite in the market for the company to be acquired, according to sources.
It is understood there were “several” parties interested in buying SportCaller.
The company’s platform has more than 100 games in over 20 languages, and covers more than 30 sports across 37 countries.
SportCaller is expected to enable Bally’s to launch its own suite of free-to-play games this year. In addition, it will allow Bally’s to use free-to-play games to help increase additional player engagement and retention in the US states that currently allow sports betting.
Cillian Barry, founder and MD at SportCaller, said joining Bally’s is “a milestone moment” for the company.
“I look forward to working with Bally’s talented team as we continue to create an innovative F2P product that engages sports fans on a global scale,” he said.
Management, including Mr Barry, were the main shareholders in Horses Mouth ahead of the sale. The company had retained earnings of €1.2m in 2019.
Mr Barry will continue to work for SportCaller.
Jones Day served as legal adviser to Bally’s Corporation while Maples Group worked as legal adviser to SportCaller and its shareholders. Oakvale Capital served as financial adviser to SportCaller.
New York-listed Bally’s has more than 5,900 employees. It currently owns and manages 11 casinos across seven states in the US.
Its operations include 13,260 slot machines, 459 game tables and 2,941 hotel rooms.
“SportCaller offers unique products and I am confident that its pioneering platform and deep international expertise will significantly contribute to our growing interactive platforms," said George Papanier, Bally's president and CEO.
Shares in Bally were trading up just over 4pc yesterday morning in New York.