Casino and other gambling affiliations can be very big businesses where certain affiliate companies are valued up to millions of Euros.
The largest affiliate companies in the industry often look for growth opportunities and since it can be difficult to grow organically at a fast pace, acquisitions become a strategy to grow the business.
In the past, we have seen some big deals where these large companies like Catena Media, Better Collective, and others have bought up competitors to add growth to their companies. This is also a way to get rid of competition that could become an even bigger threat as they might continue to increase their market share if they aren’t bought by a bigger giant.
In some cases, a big company might want to enter a specific market that is about to become regulated. Since they currently don´t have a strong presence in that market, they buy a company that has managed to achieve this already.
At times we have also seen some big acquisitions of domain names.
Here we will list some of the largest acquisitions that have happened during recent years in the iGaming affiliate industry.
Catena Media acquire Baybets – €53 million
The giant and publicly listed affiliate company Catena Media open this list with the enormous deal that they did when they acquired Baybets Ltd. Catena Media paid €22.5 million upfront and on top of this there was a 24-month earn-out agreement where the added payments could go up to another €63.5 million.
The original deal was made in 2017 but the earn-out terms were amended in July 2019. Catena Media and Baybets agreed to a new deal where Catena would take control of all the assets a bit earlier than planned. In the end, Catena Media paid a total of €53 million for all the Baybets assets.
At the time of this deal, Baybets was operating about 50 websites with the main focus on sports betting and the German market. The timing of the deal was in Baybet’s favor as there was a football World Cup in 2018 and since Baybets focused on sports betting, they managed to do a lot of lucrative deals with sportsbook operators that were looking for a boost from the German market during the tournament.
The German gaming market is about to get regulated so we will have to wait and see if this massive deal pays off in the end.
Better Collective acquire Bola Webinformation – €36.3 Million
The second entry to this biggest affiliate deals list is another big affiliate network, Better Collective. In July 2018 it was announced that Better Collective acquired another iGaming affiliate giant called Bola Webinformation GmbH.
Bola Webinformation was founded in 2008 and had managed to build an impressive portfolio of iGaming affiliate sites including the flagship brand, Wettbasis.com.
Similar to the Catena media/Baybets deal, Better Collective wanted to increase their presence in the then promising German market and with this acquisition, they became one of the leading sports betting affiliates in Germany.
Better Collective paid €30.8 million upfront and the remaining €5.5 million 12 months later.
Better Collective acquire Ribacka Group– Up to €30 million
The Danes from Better Collective were on the offensive again about 5 months later when they acquired the Swedish-owned Ribacka Group in a deal worth up to €30 million.
The deal terms included an initial €15 million cash payment followed by another €6 million payment 5 months later and finally, another payment up to €9 million depending on if the Ribacka Group managed to meet agreed performance targets.
This time Better Collective wanted to grow its market share in the upcoming Swedish market. Sweden was about to be re-regulated in January 2019 and with this deal, Better Collective was going to be ready for it.
Ribacka Group was founded by two brothers that had made an impressive journey since the launch of the company in 2012. They had a strong presence in Sweden with the site Speltips.se that focused on sports and online casinos. They also had managed to build the most popular sports betting community on Facebook in Sweden among some other assets.
Unfortunately, the Swedish re-regulated market hasn’t turned out to be as lucrative as the industry was hoping for as strict restrictions have been applied on bonuses and deposits lately but it’s still early days so we will need to wait and see how this market develops in the end. At the moment it’s not looking great though.
Catena Media acquire Askgamblers – €15 million
Catena Media is back on the list. This deal has turned out to be one of the best large affiliate deals ever done. In April 2016 Catena acquired Askgamblers.com and paid €15 million for all the assets.
Askgamblers is today one of the most well-known top casino affiliate sites in the industry and the skilled team at Askgamblers has managed to continue to grow and improve the site since 2016.
There is no doubt that Catena Media is very pleased with this acquisition and in retrospect, they should probably have paid more.
XLMedia acquire Nettikasinot.com and Netticasinot.com – Up to €15 million
XLMedia is part of the main affiliate networks that can call themselves GIANTS. For years they had been one of the leading affiliates in the Finnish iGaming market and in January 2018 it was announced that their market share there would grow even more. They had their sights on Good Game Limited and their Finnish casino affiliate sites Nettikasinot.com, Netticasinot.com, and some other Finnish-focused assets.
The Finnish guys behind Good Game Limited had also made a very interesting journey as they had worked as employees for iGaming companies while simultaneously working on their casino affiliate sites during their spare time, just some years before this deal took place.
Their journey started with the site Gamblegeneration.com that they sold to Catena Media. They used some of these funds to purchase the domain Nettikasinot.com for an undisclosed figure. According to our sources, they made a very good deal when buying this domain though as it was undervalued by the seller.
The Good Game Limited guys have since this deal with XLMedia continued to focus on their next project, Bojoko.com. This site has now become one of the most respected and well-known casino affiliate sites in the industry as well. Don´t be surprised if Bojoko is part of a new massive big affiliate deal in the near future.
GIG acquire CasinoTopsOnline – €11.5 million
Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) is a publicly listed iGaming company that has gone through some recent big strategy changes as they nowadays focus on fewer areas of the iGaming industry. Today they focus mainly on media, affiliation, and their platform (B2B).
In 2017 GIG was experiencing a growth phase though and they were active in many different areas including having their own brands like Rizk and Guts. During this time they also made some affiliate company acquisitions. The biggest one was CasinoTopsOnline.com and GIG paid €11.5 million for it.
According to our sources, the deal has turned out to be a good one for GIG as CasinoTopsOnline has continued to evolve and grow in popularity.
Catena Media acquire CasinoUK.com – €10.6 million
In December 2016 Catena was at it again. This time they had their eyes on the UK market. To grow their UK presence they decided to acquire CasinoUK.com and all their assets. For this, they had to pay €10.6 million.
The UK market has turned out to be a very tricky market in recent years as regulators have added a number of strict restrictions on gambling advertising. There are also more restrictions planned and this has lead to many iGaming operators pulling out from this market. In 2016 the situation was different though but it’s quite safe to speculate that the price for this site would have been lower if the deal had happened today in 2021.
Catena Media acquire Slotsia.com – €8.5 million
Catena Media is back on the list again. They were very aggressive and active a few years ago and bought several competitors to keep up the companies growth and to buy more market share in certain markets.
In February 2017 it was announced that Catena Media had a new target when they bought the casino affiliate website Slotsia.com and paid about €3.5 million as cash upfront followed by an earn-out of an additional €5 million.
The original Slotsia founders had made an impressive journey as they had launched Slotsia only a few years earlier in 2015. We will meet them again a bit later in this list as they have decided to make a comeback to the industry after their first successful exit.
Catena Media acquire SBAT.com – Estimated to about €8 million
As you probably have noticed by now, Catena Media was very active during a few years when they acquired several leading and different iGaming affiliate sites.
In March 2017 they had their eyes on the UK market again when they bought UK-focused SBAT.com, a social media sports news, betting, and tips affiliate website. It was reported that this deal would cost Catena Media about €8 million.
Calvin Ayre acquire Slots.com – $5.5 million
Calvin Ayre is a well-known personality in the iGaming industry. He is most known as the Bodog founder but has in recent years shifted focus towards the crypto industry. In 2010 it was reported that he had bought the domain Slots.com for $5.5 million.
Considering the value of the domain name, this should be one of the most famous casino or affiliate sites around today, but it is not. Let´s see if the current owner decides to speed up their efforts and boost some content to the site to bring up the value or might they sell it one day?
A lot of potential here as slots especially online has grown in popularity since 2010 but it could also be that the domain was overvalued back then.
Better Collective acquire WBS – €4 million
In August 2018 Better Collective announced that they were increasing their market share in the Greek sports betting and gambling market as they acquired the companies WBS P.C and KAPA.
To grow in the Greek market through this acquisition, Better Collective had to pay €4 million.
Kax Media acquire the domain Gambling.com – $2.5 million
Another super expensive domain acquisition happened in 2011 when the iGaming affiliate company KAX Media bought the domain name Gambling.com and paid $2.5 million for it.
It’s clear that gambling domains were sold for a lot more money about 10 years ago compared to what companies and individuals pay for a domain name today. Dotcom domains have been considered as the best domains for a long time but in recent years we have seen other extensions popping up.
Especially the .io domain has gained popularity lately. This in combination with the realization that you can rank well also with non-premium domain names has probably decreased the value of certain domains in general and not only in the iGaming industry.
KAX Media paid a lot for Gambling.com but it has become one of the largest and most popular casino and gambling affiliate sites in the world. The domain is also perfect for the growing USA market.
LatestCasinoBonuses acquire WorldCasinoDirectory.com – $1.7 million
Latestcasinobonuses.com is one of the affiliate sites that focus on online casinos and that have been around the longest. In March 2017 they decided to expand their portfolio of brands when they acquired WorldCasinoDirectory.com for $1.7 million.
As the name indicates, WorldCasinoDirectory.com lists both land-based and online casinos from all around the world. They also cover gambling-related news, Poker, Bingo, Sports, Racing, and Lottery.
AXL Affiliates acquire oddstake.com – €1.15 million
AXL Affiliates is a large affiliate network that has around 2 000 gaming websites and is said to deliver about 6 000 First Time Depositing (FTD) players per month to the companies that they cooperate with.
They focus mainly on sports betting and in march 2017 they made their biggest acquisition so far when they bought Oddstake.com and paid €1.15 for the site and their assets.
PokerCompany.com acquire the domain Poker.org – $1 million
As we have mentioned already in this article, domain names were overvalued by many people and companies between the years 2000 – 2010. In 2010 the poker affiliate company PokerCompany.com decided to invest some of their previous earnings to buy a top domain. In the end, they decided that it was worth spending $1 million to acquire the domain Poker.org. This is still today the most expensive .org domain ever sold, all categories.
The individuals behind PokerCompany.com were two then young Swedes that had achieved great success as poker affiliates with a focus on poker Rakeback. They had benefitted from the Poker boom between 2003 – 2010 when online Poker was exploding in popularity but unfortunately, their luck was about to turn.
Only about one year after the purchase of Poker.org the day called Black Friday in the Poker industry happened. On Friday, April 15, 2011, the United States Department of Justice issued an indictment against the three largest online poker websites in the country: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker.
This basically crippled the online poker industry as Americans could no longer play poker online. That is the main reason why Poker.org did not get a chance to live up to the expectations and potential that it once had.
Catena Media co-founder acquire the domain Great.com – $900k
In 2018 the Catena Media co-founder Erik Bergman bought the domain Great.com and paid $900,000 for it. Erik had earned around €50 million when Catena Media was publicly listed on Nasdaq Stockholm First North Premier in 2016.
Great.com is still in its start-up phase and the idea behind the site is to become a leading casino affiliate site where all company earnings are sent back to different charities.
Slotsia founders acquire the domain Online.Casino – $510k
Remember the Slotsia founders that managed to launch Slotsia.com in 2015 and then sell it two years later to affiliate giant Catena Media for €8.5 million? This is where they make their comeback in this list.
In 2018 it was announced that the most expensive .casino domain to date was sold. It was bought by the former Slotsia founders as they planned to enter the casino affiliation industry once again. They wanted a good domain for their re-entry to the industry and they were prepared to pay top dollars for it.
The guys behind online.casino are experienced and we expect to see their new domain ranking high in the SERPs again on valuable keywords on Google.
What has been one of the most overvalued acquisitions so far in the iGaming industry?
IGT acquire Entraction – $115 million
In this article, we have focused on the biggest affiliate deals so this is a bit off-topic as we now look at the most overvalued acquisition so far in the whole iGaming industry.
One that really stands out in our opinion is the acquisition of the Poker platform/network Entraction in June 2011.
Let’s rewind back to 2011 to give you the full picture of the status back then. Online Poker had seen an insane growth phase during the Poker boom between 2003 – 2010. However, there had been some massive setbacks lately for the online poker industry with the biggest one being the Poker Black Friday in April 2011 when the United States Department of Justice closed down the three largest online poker websites in the USA: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker.
Online Poker had already started to see a decline in popularity before the Poker Black Friday as the player ecosystem was approaching a situation that it could not turn back from. The poker boom was fading which meant that fewer new players were trying poker online. This in combination with fewer people overall played poker online and poker operators handing out too much Rakeback was basically killing the whole industry.
Entraction was at the time a slowly dying online poker platform/network that was struggling and the future was not looking bright. It was a decent platform to play poker on but far from the best or most popular one. In 2011 it was said to be the 12th largest poker network in the world.
Enter Nevada-based slot machine giant International Game Technology (IGT).
Being such a massive company as IGT was (and still is) and based in the U.S., we can assume that they had received some decent and updated information about how the U.S. market might evolve in the near future.
IGT decided to bet on the U.S. online poker market opening up again and wanted to be ready for when it happened. Instead of creating their own poker platform in-house, they decided to look for one to buy.
They found Entraction and ended up paying a massive $115 million for the whole thing. We can only imagine the mindset that the Entraction owners were in when they went from a worrying and unsure future to selling off the whole thing to IGT and receiving $115 while they were at it.
In the end, the U.S. online poker market did not open up again so this turned out to be a bad deal for IGT and an insanely good deal for Entraction.
It was later said that it was a calculated risk for IGT and even though it was a big-money deal, it was still peanuts for a giant of IGT´s size.
Biggest Affiliate Deals Summary
We hope that you have enjoyed this list of big affiliate deals.
On top of these mentioned acquisitions, there have been several other big purchases during the years. Some more successful than others but this list gives you an idea of what kind of money and value that is in circulation in the iGaming industry and within the casino and other gambling affiliation.
Even though the value of iGaming assets has decreased some since between the years 2015 – 2018, we can for sure expect to see some new and very big deals in the near future as the industry continues to grow and evolve.