Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) is reportedly looking to offload its Wynn Interactive unit at steeply discounted price of $500 million.
The rumor, which was originally reported by The New York Post earlier today, emerges nine months after Wynn reached an agreement with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Austerlitz Acquisition Corp. I (NYSE:AUS) to bring the iGaming and sports wagering business public at a valuation of $3.2 billion.
The Encore operator scrapped the blank-check merger last November, citing promotional spending in the US sports betting industry.
In light of elevated marketing and promotional spend in the sports betting industry, we are pivoting our user acquisition efforts to a more targeted ROI-focused strategy,” said Wynn Interactive CEO Craig Billings in a statement issued at the time. “In so doing, we expect the capital intensity of the business to decline meaningfully beginning in the first quarter of 2022.”
Soon after, Morgan Stanley valued Wynn Interactive at $700 million as the integrated resort operator made clear it wanted no part of what it views as unfavorable economics to gain market share in the ultra-competitive sports betting space.
“The market is really not sustainable right now. Competitors are spending too much to get customers. The economics are just not something that we’re going to participate in in the short term,” said soon-to-be-former CEO Matt Maddox on Wynn’s third-quarter earnings conference call.
New York Epitomizes Brutal Spending Climate
Mobile sports wagering launched in New York earlier this month with BetRivers, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and FanDuel — the four sportsbooks currently accepting mobile bets there — accepting a combined $603.1 million in bets in the first weekend.
However, owing in large part to the state’s high tax rate of 51 percent, the quartet generated gross gaming revenues of just $48.2 million. Combine operators using some of the heaviest promotional spending seen to date and the highest sports betting tax in the US — one that’s more than double the national average — analysts believe something has to give.
It’s widely believed the “something” is the marketing spending because, at current levels, profitability — already elusive for some operators in other states — is nearly impossible in New York.
Wynn Interactive is waiting on final approve from the New York Gaming Commission to launch its mobile app. It’s not clear if a potential sale or the significant promotional spending by rivals will deter Wynn from debuting in the fourth-largest state.
Potential Suitors for Wynn Interactive
Wynn didn’t comment on the speculation in the Post article, but the publication mentions Fanatics and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) as potential suitors for Wynn Interactive.
Privately held Fanatics has been linked to several acquisition rumors, but hasn’t pulled the trigger on a deal as of yet. Penn could be a credible player for Wynn Interactive as well, but it remains to be seen how that business would be integrated with Barstool Sportsbook.
Neither company has a New York license so a purchase of Wynn Interactive could be compelling in that regard.
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