Publicly Traded Sports Betting Firm Could Go Private in 2023, Says Research Firm

Less than three years removed from a flurry of initial public offerings (IPOs) by companies with ties to the sports betting industry, it’s possible that at least one of those firms goes private this year.

The sportsbook at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. A research firm sees a sports betting company going private this year. (Image: Caesars Entertainment)

That’s the sentiment of research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG). In its most recent edition of the EKG Line, the company unveiled several predictions for the sports betting industry in 2023, including “a major US OSB company goes private” without identifying a potential candidate.

It’s expensive to be a public company. Not to mention the time that goes into quarterly reporting and the forced focus on short-term financial performance over long-term goals,” according to EKG. “With valuations continuing to be depressed and capital hard to come by, the benefits of being publicly listed are arguably outweighed by the costs—especially for smaller firms.”

The California-based gaming research firm didn’t name potential candidates for privatization nor did it mention if companies that could make such a move are more likely to be sportsbook operators or technology providers.

Sports Betting Industry Is Competitive, Expensive

Since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), several points regarding about the domestic sports wagering industry became abundantly clear.

First, this is an ultra-competitive space. Second, thanks to marketing and promotional costs, it’s expensive to attract and retain bettors. Finally, by way of the second point, it’s difficult for operators to become profitable.

While online sportsbook companies were profitable for parts of 2022 and the end of losses is expected to be a prominent industry trend in 2023, being a private company is an efficient avenue for cutting expenses. As EKG notes, being a listed firm isn’t cheap. There are costs involved with everything from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings to holding investor days to maintaining investor relations staff and more.

Additionally, as pure play names such as DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) and Rush Street Interactive (NYSE:RSI) confirm, there are no guarantees market participants will appropriately value sports betting’s future prospects. Likewise, the public companies in the space are being punished amid fears that inflation and a recession will crimp consumer spending.

Still Hope for Expansion of Public Sports Betting Companies

Investors craving more options among publicly traded sports wagering firms need not fret. There are no guarantees the EKG prediction will be accurate and as of now, no operators are signaling plans to become private companies.

Additionally, 2023 could be the year of some of the most anticipated IPOs in the nascent industry’s history. For example, one of or both FanDuel and Fanatics could become listed entities this year.

FanDuel, the largest online sportsbook operator in the US, would be spun off from parent company Flutter Entertainment (OTC: PDYPY) while Fanatics would be a more traditional IPO. There’s no firm date on when either of those moves will occur, but rumors are flying that Fanatics recently held discussions with investment banks regarding a potential IPO.

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