by Michael Hill
The market for online gambling acquisitions appears to be on another hot streak. After a record 2018 driven by an appetite for mobile gambling, buyers have continued to scoop up assets to bolster their mobile properties just as our data shows that mobile commerce is beginning to overtake other forms of digital commerce.
Paddy Power Betfair and 888 Holdings, both frequent shoppers in the space, have kept the party going into 2019, spending more than $175m so far on purchases of mobile gambling destinations such as Adjarabet, Jackpotjoy and BetBright. These early bets have put 2019 spending for online gambling targets on pace with 2018.
In all, investors put $6.1bn into online gambling properties in 2018, the highest-ever spending total for the sector, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase. The Stars Group’s $4.7bn play for Sky Betting & Gaming accounted for the bulk of last year’s total, while aligning with the trend that’s driven much of the M&A spending in this category – the push toward mobile gaming. In the case of Sky, mobile betting generated 80% of its revenue.
Of the 13 acquisitions of online gambling properties that took place in 2018, at least 11 featured targets that offer mobile applications for Android and iOS devices. According to 451 Research’s Global Digital Commerce Forecast 2018-2022, mobile app-enabled transactions are expected to surpass e-commerce transactions (i.e., transactions initiated on a laptop or desktop computer within a web browser) this year and will grow to 55% of all digital commerce transactions in 2022.