Renowned gaming operator Paddy Power Betfair has recently expanded its reach into the regulated gambling market in Georgia through the acquisition of a controlling 51 percent stake in Adjaraet, a leading betting and gaming operator in the state. The deal is estimated to have been worth at least €101m which is equivalent to £88.3m or $115.6m in cash and is part of Paddy’s diversification and expansion plans. This acquisition is just the first step towards achieving this goal and, as it turns out, Paddy Power is pretty confident that everything will work out as planned – the company has even been granted first right to acquire the remaining 49 percent stake in Adjarabet within a three-year period.

According to Peter Jackson, the current chief executive officer of the group, the “bolt-on” acquisition of Adjarabet aligns to the company’s strategy of establishing podium positions in the emerging online gambling markets – the United States is certainly a great place to start especially considering the fact that many more states are beginning to establish their own regulated gambling markets. Adjarabet has a strong brand presence in the Georgian online gambling market, a trait that can be attributed to its strong management team. When combined with Paddy Power’s technological resources and sports capabilities the Adjarabet’s offerings can only get better.

Currently, the Georgian gaming company offers a full suite of betting and gaming products including poker, peer-to-peer games, casino games and sports betting all of which contribute to the 40 percent share of the state’s gambling market that it currently boasts of. Last year, the company generated €70.6 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization of €6.6 million. These figures are quite a big deal particularly because it represents the company’s potential – Adjarabet was launched in the developing regulated Armenian online market in 2017 and by the end of 2018 it had managed to accrue a market share of about 10 percent in that market.

Banking on Expansion

The acquisition of Adjarabet is the second major M&A investment that Paddy Power Betfair has ventured into under Peter Jackson. The first was the acquisition of US-based daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel. This acquisition came shortly after the country’s Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 which implies that the legalization of sports betting was the primary motivation behind the acquisition.

Gambling expansion in the United States has been subject to several different opinions but it goes without saying that, while the future may be uncertain, the previous statistics have been quite impressive. In Georgia, for instance, the online gaming market grew by an estimated annual growth rate of 40 percent between 2016 and 2018. No wonder, Paddy Power has its sights set on the state.