The road to acquiring US Bookmaking began with a referral from one of Elys Game Technology‘s suppliers.
The two sides closed on the acquisition last week, not long after the purchase was announced. Elys paid $12 million up front in a 50-50 cash-stock split.
The deal includes another potential $41.8 million in cash and stock for the US Bookmaking team if certain EBITDA targets are hit over the next four years.
How the deal came together
Both companies found themselves searching for a partner like the other. Elys, already successful in its Italian operations, realized it would need a US trading team before long as it planned for its US push, as Chairman Mike Ciavarella told LSR:
“The game plan was set up the single location, build it out, maybe two to five locations we were OK by using the Italian trade floor, but we realized once we got to a certain critical mass we’d eventually have to start hiring US bookmakers.”
US Bookmaking, meanwhile, is well-known in US sports betting for its trading team but needed new tech to expand more efficiently.
The referral from the supplier led to early partnership discussions, which then turned into talks for a potential acquisition. The decision was cemented once the US Bookmaking team set eyes on Elys’ technology in Italy, Ciavarella said.
The new Elys Gameboard U.S. platform on United Tote hardware will debut at the National Indian Gaming Association Trade Show in Las Vegas this week.
US Bookmaking now a subsidiary of Elys
The US Bookmaking brand is not going anywhere, nor is its team. That includes founder Vic Salerno, CEO Bob Kocienski and Director of Bookmaking Robert Walker.
“They’re all coming on board – that was fundamental,” Ciavarella said. “That was the key to the deal.”
The three have more than 110 combined years of gaming experience.
“We spent the last three years vetting virtually every sports betting technology in existence and determined that the Elys platform was superior to all the other platforms,” Salerno said in the closing announcement. “The combination of USB’s highly experienced bookmaking team and a technologically advanced and cutting-edge software platform, we expect, will be a formidable parlay in the sports wagering market and we are eager to present these strengths to our pipeline of potential clients.”
Both now ready for growth
With the two sides combined, Elys is now ready to make the US push it’s been readying for.
US Bookmaking brings operations in four states to Elys:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
The sportsbook also has a license to launch online sports betting in Iowa. Both Elys and US Bookmaking have pending supplier licenses in Washington DC as well.
Ciavarella said retail will be the first focus for its new US sports betting platform to make sure there are no bugs. It will then expand its offerings to include mobile on premises, which will be a key differentiator for Elys, he added.
Most mobile on-premises operations include having to sign up and bet on essentially a mobile sportsbook. Elys’ product is a bit different: by logging onto the betting venue’s wireless internet, there is no need to create an account. Bettors can book the bet and will get a QR code or barcode. An employee will then scan the code and give the bettor their ticket.
A full digital offering will follow once retail is running smoothly.
Elys, US Bookmaking targeting operations of all sizes
Elys is interested in multiple additional markets and has a few plans in the pipeline, Ciavarella said. He mentioned new markets including Maryland and Massachusetts on the radar. More mature markets, like New Jersey, could be possible depending on the client.
Elys is also focusing on sometimes-overlooked opportunities, Ciavarella said:
“[Signing a big partnership] really doesn’t prove anything because all of our competitors could provide a product to [a big casino company], you know what I mean? The question becomes who could provide one to Joe Blow’s sports bar cost-effectively? And that’s what’s lighting the light bulb.”
The expertise for smaller operations goes back to Italy, where Elys has around 1,500 retail locations. The technology allows Elys to set up those small sportsbooks for significantly less than other suppliers like Kambi could, Ciavarella claims.
That will be showcased in the DC sports betting market with the sportsbook at Grand Central restaurant. Elys’ application is awaiting approval from the DC regulators at this point with the goal to launch by the beginning of the new NFL betting season in September.