- Las Vegas based Boyd Gaming is acquiring California based gaming tech provider Pala Interactive.
- Pala Interactive specializes inB2B and B2C casino gaming solutions including player management and marketing support.
- Boyd Gaming is increasing their focus on iGaming and the interactive technology necessary to power it.
When you think of Las Vegas based gaming company Boyd Gaming, it’s doubtful that you immediately associate them with gaming technology. To the contrary, they’ve been one of the most land based retail gaming focused companies in the business over the past decade. They have properties in nine states with a focus on Southern Nevada and Louisiana. In Las Vegas, they own the Aliante, The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Sam’s Town, both Cannery properties, the Jokers Wild in Henderson and the California, Fremont and Main Street Station downtown. If you’re a Las Vegas ‘OG’ like me you probably still associate them with the legendary Stardust Hotel & Casino which was once the epicenter of the sports betting universe.
Boyd is trying to change their ‘land based’ image. Just over a year ago, they revived the iconic Stardust brand for their online casinos in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Today, they’ve made a bigger move to secure their future in a ‘digital first’ world. Boyd has announced that they will acquire California based Pala Interactive for ‘total cash consideration’ of $170 million. A press release announcing the deal indicates that the Pala purchase will be financed by a combination of cash on hand and their existing credit agreement.
Pala’s primary focus is casino gaming and ancillary services. Here’s the company bio from the Boyd Gaming press release:
Pala Interactive is an innovative online gaming technology company that provides proprietary real money and social gaming solutions on both a business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) basis in regulated markets across the United States and Canada. Pala Interactive’s technology includes its player account management system; casino; poker; and social casino and poker platforms. Pala complements its online gaming platform with a full suite of managed services. Pala currently provides B2B services in eight states across the United States as well as Canada, and operates B2C offerings in New Jersey and Canada.
For longtime residents of Southern Nevada, Boyd has always been synonymous with sports betting. Even beyond the Stardust, their current flagship property The Orleans has a very busy sports betting operation. They also operate B Connected Sports, a Nevada facing mobile app using IGT PlaySports technology. I used to live around the corner from the Orleans and was a frequent visitor to their sportsbook which was open 24/7 during the pre-COVID days.
On a national level, however, they show little interest in becoming a player in the US sports betting market. They’ve got a partnership with FanDuel for all states–excluding Nevada–and own a 5% equity stake in the company. In today’s announcement, they go out of their way to emphasize their commitment to their partnership with FanDuel. Here’s President and CEO of Boyd Gaming Keith Smith explaining the rationale for the Pala purchase while making clear that they’re still down with FanDuel for sports betting:
“The acquisition of Pala Interactive marks the next phase in the ongoing execution of our iGaming strategy, providing us full control over the technology, development and customer experience. By integrating online casinos with our existing land-based operations, we will be able to further leverage and monetize our expansive customer database and the amenities of our nationwide portfolio of properties, driving growth in both our land-based and iGaming operations.”
“Given our nationwide geographic distribution, significant database and established loyalty program, it makes sense for us to pursue a direct approach with our iGaming operations. By engaging directly with our guests and having the ability to personalize the customer experience, we are confident in our ability to create a cost-effective and profitable regional iGaming business. While the acquisition of Pala Interactive supports our iGaming strategy, we remain fully committed to our sports-betting partnership with FanDuel, which has allowed us to participate in the nationwide expansion of sports-betting. We look forward to welcoming the Pala Interactive team to our Company and building a highly successful online gaming business in the years ahead.”
My guess is that once FanDuel gets licensed in Nevada–they’ve got an application that has been in ‘pending’ status for a ridiculously long time–they’ll take over the operation of Boyd Gaming’s sports betting there. Currently, the Nevada Gaming Commission is doing everything possible trying to protect the ‘legacy casinos’ from any type of competition but that’ll only work for so long. The fact that companies like FanDuel, DraftKings, PointsBet, etc. aren’t active in Nevada says more about the declining significance of the Silver State gaming business than it does about the companies that don’t have a presence there.
Boyd’s Investor Relations has put together a PowerPoint presentation about the Pala acquisition. If you’re the type that enjoys this kind of thing you can check out the PDF version below: