Company Strategy and Growth Opportunity
“To be a leader in a number of verticals in the regulated gaming industry, by creating the best possible experience for our customers, while always striving to be the best we can be.”
“Our aim is to be the leading UK-based soft gaming operator. Stride Gaming is focused on building scale and maximising shareholder value by achieving growth through organic and acquisitive means and by focusing on the Company’s core strengths. The Company aims to deliver growth by enhancing its proprietary platforms, systems and knowledge, and strategic acquisitions that will allow the Company to enter new verticals and provide scale to existing verticals.”
Scale and the POC tax
The UK online bingo market is highly fragmented with an estimated 400+ operators, many of which are small in size. With the implementation of the POC tax and the general increase in regulation, scale is increasingly vital for any online gaming company focused on the UK market and it is expected that a number of these smaller operators will suffer a significant impact to their margins that it will make it difficult for them to continue operating. The Directors believe that there is a significant opportunity to capture market share from the Group’s competitors, including the large casino and sports betting operators, by way of a number of organic growth opportunities and strategic acquisitions.
Organic growth and focus on the core business
The Company aims to maintain its growth and to further increase its profitability and scale, taking advantage of the increased regulatory environment and, in particular, the POCT, which is driving unprecedented change across the industry. This increased regulatory environment is forcing many of the larger gambling operators to consolidate and merge in order to add scale to their operations and is forcing many of the smaller players out of the market entirely. Stride Gaming, in contrast, feels it only has to gain in this environment as it has scale and a number of key strengths, which include owning our own proprietary software, our multi-branded strategy and our highly experienced management team. The Company will look to build on its significant market share following recent acquisitions and take further market share from the larger multi-product operators which are prioritising their marketing spend on their core operations, and from the smaller operators which are being squeezed out of the market.
Stride Gaming aims to accelerate growth through improved levels of engagement, monetisation and marketing:
Engagement – the Company is focused on enhancing the user experience through providing rich and engaging content, loyalty and competitions, thereby creating a high level of stickiness.
Marketing – the Company’s marketing strategy is focused on increasing the customer base through optimising conversion rates and CPA levels. Stride Gaming uses an effective marketing mix of online and offline channels including natural search (SEO), player management, email, SMS and direct mails.
The Company will continue to invest in product development and in enhancing its bingo IP, instant game IP and also mobile development. A core part of the growth strategy will be to pursue expansion in international regulated markets such as Italy, Spain and Denmark.
Many bingo-led operators rely on third-party software providers, which creates potential opportunities for Stride Gaming to license its platform to other operators on a B2B basis or otherwise offer white label solutions based on the Group’s existing platforms.
Stride Gaming listed on AIM on 19 May 2015 primarily to exploit the market opportunity that exists in the gambling sector as a result of increased taxes, particularly the POC tax, and regulation which is forcing the larger operators to consolidate in order to achieve scale and forcing many of the smaller operators to fold. An integral part of Stride Gaming’s growth strategy is to increase its market share through acquisitions and through delivering robust organic growth. Stride Gaming has been highly acquisitive from the outset, prior to listing on AIM and post its admission. The Group has a strong track record in undertaking selective strategic and accretive acquisitions that deliver value for shareholders and provide the Company with material scale, strong operational leverage and significant market share.
InfiApps, the mobile social gaming company acquired in July 2015, has now been fully integrated into the Group. In Slot Bonanza, our flagship social gaming brand, our focus during the year has been to increase the level of player engagement through the introduction of unique product features, business intelligence and new content, including real money gaming content, which enabled us to increase our monetisation capabilities. As a result, our adjusted EBITDA was up 17% to £4.1 million (2015: pro-forma £3.5 million), our average deposit size increased to US$24.5 (2015: US$17) and the daily average revenue per paying user (“Daily ARPPU”) increased to US$35.0 (2015: US$28.5).
In addition, we developed our Panda Slots app, a multi-technology platform for the faster creation of new mobile social slot games customised on a player level. Using this platform, we can develop once and deploy on both iOS and android platforms, significantly reducing the time and cost to market.
Acquisitions of 8Ball Games, Netboost Media and the Tarco Assets
On 31 August 2016, Stride Gaming completed the acquisitions of 8Ball, Netboost Media and the Tarco Assets for a total consideration of up to £70.2 million. These acquisitions have been transformational for the Company. They have increased Stride Gaming’s market share of the UK bingo market from 5% to 10%, making Stride Gaming the fourth largest online bingo operator in the UK. They have expanded the Company’s multi-branded offering by 95 brands to 105 brands, increasing Stride Gaming’s share of the UK online bingo market from 2% to over 25% (by number of bingo sites). They also bring significant scale and a number of leading bingo brands to Stride Gaming’s business, together with the opportunity for meaningful operational leverage.
The acquisitions already present attractive player fundamentals, including the opportunity for significant improvements through leveraging off Stride Gaming’s leading software platform and marketing expertise, together with delivering synergies through cross-marketing, lowering of CPA, increasing customer LTV and reducing player churn.
These acquisitions were funded by a fully subscribed placing of 12 million ordinary shares at a price of 225p per share raising £27 million (pre-costs) and the issue of new ordinary shares to the vendors.