Every now and again, a piece of news about mergers and acquisitions sends a seismic shock through the world of online bingo. On 15th December 2021, the biggest shock piece of news of this type broke since Entain (then GVC) bought Cozy all the way back in November 2017. Broadway Gaming, the operators of Butlers Bingo, Dotty Bingo and three other Pragmatic Play bingo sites, have pulled off a huge and brave acquisition. They (or rather Broadway subsidiary Saphalata Holdings) are buying the ENTIRE bingo business of 888 Group!
What’s included in the sale?
- Dragonfish B2C bingo – this means all of the bingo sites powered by the 888/Dragonfish software and owned by 888, comprising three distinct groupings of sites:
- Dragonfish B2B bingo product – this means software supply, management and licensing of ALL white label Dragonfish bingo sites (and very likely Dragonfish slot sites as well, as they use the same technology but without the bingo rooms). That’s a LOT of sites.
- All exclusive technology, assets and operations of the bingo business – importantly, retaining all of the existing staff.
Why did 888 sell?
Reportedly there are several reasons for the sale of the bingo business:
- A desire to concentrate on their core products of casino, sports and poker.
- A desire to “reduce compliance complexity”. That issue has been caused by the sheer number of Dragonfish brands and the fact that some are directly owned and some are not; affordability checks now need to be applied across multiple accounts held by the same player at different brands which isn’t a simple matter.
- The bingo part of the business has been losing money.
Broadway have many years of experience focusing specifically on bingo and have acquired and turned around bingo sites before (though admittedly not on this kind of a scale) so this is a big opportunity for them to take the Dragonfish product to the next level.
What will it mean for players?
We don’t expect much to happen right away as the sale hasn’t completed yet and is not expected to do so until some time between April and July 2022. After that there will be a transitional period, with 888 providing some services for up to 12 months afterwards.
The first thing that you will probably notice is a change in the licensing arrangements. Currently the UK licence holder for ALL of these sites is 888 UK Limited and obviously this is going to have to change. But what to? Will Broadway (or Saphalata) take all of these licences over, or will the operators of white label Dragonfish sites (some of whom are bigger organisations than Broadway was before the Dragonfish purchase) now need to apply for their own licences (which would solve some of the compliance complexity)?
Another thing to look out for is what happens to player funds protection when the licence change happens; if it’s a simple transfer to Broadway the current level of medium protection will remain but if it’s anything else it may change.
After that, we can only speculate, but here’s just some of the things that could happen:
- Bonuses, wagering requirements and player rewards could change at Dragonfish sites
- Broadway could move all of their own sites on to the Dragonfish software
- The bingo rooms at Dragonfish could be overhauled
- The Dragonfish software could get some big improvements (look at what Entain did with the old Cozy software!). Maybe it will even get the powerful pre-buy facilities it’s been missing all this time.
- Some white label sites which are currently on Dragonfish could move to a different platform, especially if they would otherwise need to apply for their own UK licence
With so many bingo sites potentially affected, this could end up being a very big deal indeed for the world of online bingo and we’re really excited to see how it pans out.
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