Sportech in £51m deal for US bets firm

FOOTBALL pools operator Sportech yesterday completed a £51.4m acquisition of US-based gaming group Scientific Games Racing (SRG) and said it was looking to further expand its presence in the country.

SGR’s parent company, Scientific Games Corporation, now holds a 19.9 per cent stake in Sportech, under the terms of the deal.

The acquisition will transform the Liverpool-based group into one of the world’s leading pool and tote betting operators.

It will now have a significant foothold in football and horseracing, across Europe and North America.

The completion of the deal has taken almost a year as regulators in the US and Europe have been scrutinising the details. Sportech will now operate from bases in the Hague, in the Netherlands, Essen in Germany, and Connecticut and Atlanta in North America. But the Liverpool operation will remain the headquarters of the new group which will process more than £8.2bn in bets.

Chief executive Ian Penrose said that the US offered a gateway to more sales both online and in the more traditional method of betting on paper forms.

He said: “This is a massively important move for us and makes us very well placed in a changing US market. Over the past three years Sportech has undergone significant restructuring, culminating in the completion of the SGR acquisition. This acquisition creates a world-leading pools betting company with international reach.

“As well as significant growth potential in our existing main markets of Europe and North America, the enlarged Sportech will have the scale and capability to compete in the new and emerging regulated global gaming markets.”

The company said it was not taking on any debt to finance the acquisition which had been carried out with a number of partners. Penrose added: “This is a solid investment.”