William Hill Concerned by Scientific Games’ Buyout of NYX

Friday, November 10th, 2017 | Written by April Bergman
William Hill Concerned by Scientific Games’ Buyout of NYX

William Hill expressed concern over the purchase of NYX Gaming by Scientific Games, though the UK bookmaker was noncommittal on whether it would oppose the deal. William Hill Inc. owns 6.8 million ordinary shares of NYX and £80 million preference shares of NYX Digitl Gaming, so it would have a role in any shareholder agreements.

NYX Gaming, the Toronto-listed online gaming software developer, accused William Hill of “extortionate demands” in the ongoing discussions over a buyout by Scientific Games. William Hill purchased £270 million in NYX shares in 2016, when the Las Vegas gaming company bought Open Bet.

The announcement by NYX that it had accepted a buyout offer from Scientific Games in September 2017 caused a rift between the two companies. As NYX Gaming’s head, Matt Davey, accused William Hill of unrealistic demands, William Hill appears ready to play the public relations game. Faced with a buyout from Scientific Games, William Hill Inc. appears to be temporizing for the time being.

Scientific Games Buyout of NYX Gaming

Scientific Games is the massive American lottery corporation which provides lotto tickets to dozens of US states and dozens more countries worldwide. In September, Scientific Games announced it would by online gaming software designer NYX Gaming for $609.2 million.

Since then, reports have surfaced that William Hill has asked for regulatory oversight, citing an unfair competitive environment. William Hill this week contradicted those rumors, saying it “refutes in the strongest terms that any anti-competitive measure have been requested or is being demanded”.

William Hill Statement on NYX Gaming Buyout

At the same time, William Hill’s statement maintained the right to oppose or approve of the deal, saying “no decision has been made at this time” which way it would throw its support at any future shareholders meeting.

In its press release, the UK’s second largest sportsbook operator said, “William Hill confirms that it has issued a conversion notice to convert its holding of convertible preference shares and has commenced legal action in order that it may also vote such shares at the special meeting of shareholders.”

That suggests William Hill Inc. is preparing for a major battle over the buyout talks. In such a deal, shareholders would vote to approve or oppose the buyout, with ones number of shares serving as votes. The company finished its public statement by saying, “William Hill does not wish to make any further comment on those proceedings at this time, other to confirm that it will continue to act in the best interests of its shareholders.”

About NYX Gaming

NYX Gaming began as two different companies: one in Stockholm, Sweden and one in Sydney, Australia. Matt Davies, the co-founder of Sydney’s Next Gen Gaming, remains the key figure in NYX Gaming, so it is best to chart his company’s founding. Matt Davey had been a gaming regulator in the Northern Territory as late as 1996, before founding his own gaming company in 2002.

In 2005, Matt Davey became CEO of Next Gen Gaming, which had been founded by Tony McAuslan in 1999. At the time, Davey claimed the company had 5 employees. At the time, Next Gen Gaming was a business-to-business (B2B) online slots designer, which would supplement online software developers’ own slots catalogue with a few boutique games of their own. Its clients included Bettson, Coral Gaming, Bet365, and William Hill.

NYX Interactive of Stockholm and Next Gen Gaming merged in 2006 to form NYX Gaming, with Matt Davey taking over as the CEO of the merged company. He also moved to Las Vegas to oversee the company’s growth, though they maintained game design studios in Sweden and Australia. Over the past few years, NYX Gaming has grown into a popular game developer, with enough resources to buy OpenBet, as well as the old Cryptologic video slots from Amaya Gaming. Online slots players probably have played NYX Gaming/Cryptologic games over the years, whether they knew it or not.

Despite the success of NYX Gaming over the past 11 years, its resources were dwarfed by one of the giants of the global gaming industry, Scientific Games.

About Scientific Games

Scientific Games formed in 1973, but its rapid expansion began in 2000, when the largest American tote service, United Tote, purchased the company. By 2002, Scientific Games/Autotote transacted two-thirds of the $20 billion wagered each year by Americans. Along with Italian lotto company, GTECH, Scientific Games was praised by the New York Times for transforming the lottery gaming business from a mob-run outfit to a lucrative global industry.

In the years since, Scientific Games has bought a series of famous slot machine manufacturers, including Bally Technologies, WMS Gaming, and Barcrest. Meanwhile, it expanded lottery services beyond North America. Now, Scientific games controls 20% of the lottery gaming in the United Kingdom and Italy, and 50% of lottery systems in China. It is a massive international gaming company rivaled only by GTECH, which purchased Interactive Game Technology (IGT) and now goes by that name.

About William Hill

William Hill is the major UK bookmaker which was founded by its namesake in the 1930s. The real life William Hill was a member of the controversial Blacks & Tans in the 1920s, but ran numbers for illegal sports betting operations in 1930s and 1940s in England. By the 1940s, William Hill ran a bet-by-mail sports betting operation, which was legal.

In 1954, William Hill took his company public with an IPO on the London Stock Exchange. Since then, the company has changed hands any number of times, while rivalling major sportsbook and racebook operations like Ladbrokes and Betfred. William Hill owns thousands of UK betting shops, as well as a world famous online gambling brand.