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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Significance Of Harrah's Playtika Purchase For 90 Million USD

The iGaming world is a buzz with the news that Harrahs has purchased the Israeli social and casual game development company Playtika. This transaction is quite significant from a strategic and industry perspective.

The subtle significance of this transaction indicates that Harrahs is taking the online social and casual game very seriously. This is important because Harrahs is considered a "gambling" operation and not an Internet social gaming company. Playtika's games are clearly modeled after casino games. However, they are free to play with "virtual currency" transaction options.

This transaction is important because of the size of the payout for Playtika coming close to 90 million USD. It indicates that Harrahs envisages some serious revenue and branding coming from these games.

More importantly Harrahs has decided it is not going to wait for US gambling law to change before it goes online. Harrahs wants to build an online brand now, obtain expertise in managing an online gaming property and establish a close linkage between its off line properties and its new online brand.

Harrahs wants to acquire online players now through social gaming and understand how the social gaming business works. Most of the iGaming industry is still in denial about the importance of social and casual gaming for the purpose of profiling and up selling into Internet gambling offerings.  Harrahs gets it and knows that with 1/2 billion people in Facebook, the average age over 35 and most of them playing Facebook like games there is definitely some serious cross over.

Gary Loveman has always been an innovator in the US land based market and he has been working hard over the years to bring his company into the digital age. Gary is building the business and operational acumen to make this happen. He is moving far ahead of his rivals at this point. Can they catch him?

Kevin Flood is the CEO of Gameinlane, Inc. Kevin writes extensively about online games and their impact and integration into iGaming and E-commerce environments. Kevin is a frequent speaker at online game events and conferences in Asia, Europe and the US. Kevin and his Gameinlane team are currently working with online gambling, social gaming and e-commerce companies integrating social gaming with online gaming operations and integrate game mechanics into e-commerce applications.

1 comment:

Steven Kane said...

better late than never, i guess


btw, harrah's only acquired 51% of playtika, implying a valuation of $80MM, I think, but not paying that much. playtika has about $1.5MM annual revenue run rate. so harrah's must indeed have huge hopes.

its also worth noting that harrah's doesn't just want to change, it pretty obviously needs to change. its financials are pretty disastrous, barely stable and hemmoraging cash and increasing losses in major markets.

and in a world of more and more friendly public markets for IPOs (all IPOs, not just social networks!), Harrah's had to withdraw its IPO a few months ago due to investor disinterest.

most troubling, harrah's has no exposure to macau/china, a huge strategic blunder and gap, as china is the powerful driver for growth and valuation for essentially every one of harrah's rivals, MGM, LVS, WYNN etc.

so harrah's is hoping even the appearance of diversification into digital/social will add some luster to its tarnished rep

ironic, given that harrah's did talk the talk about digital and casual/social as early as 2003, wayyyy ahead of its rival and even ahead of betfair and partypoker et al... but the company was so dazzled by its own brilliance, it never could actually walk the walk