How Evolution’s NetEnt Acquisition Could Affect Michigan’s iGaming Landscape

Posted on June 25, 2020 - Last Updated on June 24, 2020

One of the world’s premier online casino operators has made a big move into online slots. As a result, Evolution Gaming could be the first to dominate the Michigan iGaming scene.

There are still several unknowns regarding the future of online gaming in Michigan. Among them is Evolution’s level of interest in the market.

Evolution Gaming takes next step in online gambling

Last Wednesday, stockholders of NetEnt approved a sale of the company to Evolution Gaming for $2.3 billion.

With the move, Evolution acquires a primary competitor. The bigger play, however, is adding NetEnt’s popular online slot products to Evolution’s portfolio. Mathias Hedlund, NetEnt chairman, said:

“With this deal, there are unique possibilities to shape a leading global B2B provider of online casino, taking advantage of the market development with continued digitalization and strong growth, especially in North America. Evolution’s position within live casino combined with NetEnt’s position within online slots will create a company well-positioned to take significant market share.”

While Evolution already provides games for licensed operators in some US jurisdictions, the focus is on new markets. That’s where MI is important.

There is no state on the verge of rolling out legal online gaming with a larger population than MI. For that reason, Michigan is a prize catch for market expansion.

Evolution expects to close this deal on Nov. 2, which could be right in step with the launch of online gaming in Michigan. The latest projections bear a go-live date for licensees sometime in October.

Michiganders will see whether that projection proves to be too optimistic this fall. They will also bear witness to how determined Evolution is to become the primary provider of online casino and slot games in MI.

Will Evolution blitz Michiganders’ inboxes?

While accessibility and convenience are important factors in the success of online gambling operators, the most direct line to profitability is a dominant supplier. The most direct line to being the dominant supplier is the spend on marketing.

After committing $2.3 billion to become the “world leader in the online gaming industry,” it would defy logic for Evolution Gaming to not have the necessary resources in place to blitz future MI gaming licensees with advertising. This will likely include email marketing, social media and other forms of media like direct mail and television.

Gambling companies with deep pockets enjoy this significant advantage. They can expend resources at a rate that competitors can’t, even if they lose money in the short term, to gain market share.

The strategy could go beyond an email campaign, however. Evolution will likely work account registrations and bonuses into games via MI gaming operators.

Naturally, before releasing the marketing torrent in the Wolverine State, Evolution will need to go through the regulatory steps, including acquiring a license. It’s still uncertain as to what that will entail, as the MI Gaming Control Board has yet to publicize rules for online gambling operators.

When online gambling goes live in Michigan, Evolution may spend whatever it takes to dominate the market. That spending began with the acquisition of NetEnt.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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