The Irish sports betting conglomerate and FanDuel parent company Flutter Entertainment has acquired The Stars Group, the Canadian parent company of PokerStars. Flutter Entertainment Plc is the bookmaking holding company created when Paddy Power and Betfair merged. The combined Irish bookmaker and UK sports betting exchange is a FTSE 100 Index company with brands like Sportsbet, TVG, and FanDuel.
In a jointly issued press release made public on October 2, the two giants confirmed the terms of an all-stock merger which will create the world’s largest online gambling firm. Combined, Flutter Entertainment and The Stars Group serve sports bettors, poker players, and casino game enthusiasts in over 100 countries where the iGaming industry is legal and regulated.
Flutter Entertainment shareholders will own a majority stake by holding 54.64 percent of the newly fused company, while The Stars Group will send shareholders 0.2253 in new Flutter shares for each Stars share held when the merger was finalized.
Based on current market values published by the Wall Street Journal of $6.95 billion and $4.41 billion, respectively, the union between Flutter Entertainment and The Stars Group creates a new company worth more than $11.3 billion.
When news of the merger broke last Wednesday, shares of Flutter Entertainment stock rose by 6.9 percent in London Stock Exchange, while Stars Group’s stock shot up by 30 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Flutter Adds FOX Bet to FanDuel for Dominant U.S. Sportsbook Position
Flutter Entertainment was formed in 2015 when Irish sportsbook operator Paddy Power merged with British rival Betfair.
Then known as Paddy Power / Betfair, the company – which also includes the European-facing Sportsbet and TVG brands – acquired American daily fantasy sports company FanDuel in May of 2018. Last March, the company officially rebranded as Flutter Entertainment.
By absorbing the recently created FOX Bet online / mobile sportsbook – formed earlier this year when FOX Sports and The Stars Group agreed to rebrand the latter’s BetStars platform – Flutter Entertainment appears poised to dominate the emerging regulated American market:
In the press release, Flutter Entertainment’s chief executive officer Peter Jackson pointed to FOX Bet as a prime target motivating the merger:
“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.
The combination will turbocharge our existing four-pillar strategy and provide world-class capabilities across sports betting, gaming, daily fantasy sports and poker, as well as greater geographical and product diversification.”
FanDuel currently enjoys market leader status in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while FOX Bet is operational in both states.
By virtue of deals previously signed with land-based casino operators Boyd Gaming and Penn National Gaming, the combined Flutter / Stars Group entity has access to 24 states in total.
The Stars Group Continues to Evolve Past Poker
Agreeing to an acquisition by Flutter Entertainment continues a companywide pivot away from online poker for The Stars Group.
Previously known as Amaya Inc. and rebranded as The Stars Group in 2017, the company which once consisted solely of its PokerStars platform has taken great strides to diversify with sportsbook and casino offerings over the last few years.
That diversification intensified via this year’s FOX Bet deal and culminated in the Flutter Entertainment acquisition.
The Stars Group’s chief executive officer Rafi Ashkenazi – who will join the new company’s board of directors and serve as chief operating officer – used his official statement to celebrate the company’s arrival as a major player in the emerging American sports betting market:
“This exciting combination will allow us to enhance and accelerate our existing strategy.
In recent years, we have transformed TSG from a single product operator in poker, to a diverse global leader with multiple product offerings across poker, gaming and sports betting.
The combination with Flutter will further enhance our company’s core strengths, and position us strongly for the future in this rapidly evolving industry.”
Fox Corporation executive chairman and chief executive officer Lachlan Murdoch echoed those sentiments in his own statement:
“Our FOX Bet partnership is off to a great start, and teaming up with Flutter and FanDuel will allow us to build on that strength and jointly capture the significant market potential ahead of us.
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.”