Monkey Business: Bally’s, Monkey Knife Fight DFS Site Agree To $90M Deal

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Monkey Knife Fight

Bally’s Corporation is acquiring Monkey Knife Fight, the third-largest daily fantasy sports operator in North America.

And it’s a stock-only deal that could be worth up to $90 million.

The acquisition will make Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corp., just the third sports betting company in the U.S. to have a fantasy sports segment, according to a joint statement released Monday.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

“With this acquisition, we are pleased to enter into the high-growth DFS market. Monkey Knife Fight is a unique asset that we look forward to incorporating into Bally’s constantly growing omnichannel portfolio of land-based casinos and iGaming platforms,” said George Papanier, president and CEO of Bally’s Corp.

Bally’s Corp. still making deals

The MKF announcement is the latest step in Bally’s “long-term growth and diversification strategy.”

“The plan is to become the first truly vertically integrated sports betting and iGaming company in the U.S.,” with both B2B and B2C models, according to Monday’s announcement.

Bally’s believes the deal will complement its recent media partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group and the pending acquisition of Bet.Works.

“As with all of the properties and services that fall under the iconic Bally’s brand, we are committed to providing a best-in-class DFS platform to sports fans around the country,” Papanier said.

Just who is Monkey Knife Fight?

Monkey Knife Fight is relatively new to the DFS industry, having only launched in 2018.

And, while the company still trails DFS-leaders DraftKings and FanDuel, it is the fastest-growing brand.

The company signed an exclusive, long-term partnership with the NFL and NFLPA in late-2020.

Monkey Knife Fight claims to have 180,000 registered users and 80,000 depositing players. It operates in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

Bally’s building online gaming database

The Bally’s team sees big things ahead as a result of the Monkey Knife Fight deal. One of the biggest will be having the ability to leverage both its current customer database as well as “DFS’s collection of depositing players.”

“These assets will also provide Bally’s with a significant advantage in launching its own B2C sports betting operations,” Papanier said.

The MKF-deal is the latest in a series of aggressive moves by the gaming company formerly known as Twin River Worldwide Holdings.

The once-regional operator completed several purchases in 2020.

Buying Bally’s Atlantic City for $25 million from Caesars Entertainment was one. And in a seperate deal, the company bought the iconic Bally’s name from Caesars. More importantly, the latter move set the stage for the rebranding strategy.

Once the deal with Bet.Works is complete, the company intends to form two distinct operating divisions:

  • Bally’s Casinos will oversee the company’s portfolio of (soon-to-be) 15 gaming properties across 11 states.
  • Bally’s Interactive will be the brand’s internet gaming and sports betting operation.

Looking ahead at Bally’s in NJ

In New Jersey, Bally’s is operating under the license name of Premier Entertainment, which has yet to launch online casino or sports betting. A temporary FanDuel Sportsbook is open at Bally’s AC is open for wagering. The permanent space is expected to open later this year.

A company spokesperson told PlayNJ that Bally’s expects its online sports betting skins to launch either “late-Q1 or early-Q2 of this year.”

Company executives have expressed optimism about entering NJ’s growing sports betting and online gaming markets.

The bulk of NJ’s $6 billion sports betting handle in 2020 (an all-time record) were online wagers. For the year, sports betting generated more than $398.5 million in revenue.

In 2020, online gaming revenue exceeded $970 million.

“We are excited to see the growth in the New Jersey online casino market and look forward to launching with our skin partners this year, as well as launching Bally’s own i-casino offering,” a company spokesperson said.

In addition to the various brands under Bet.Works, Bally’s will extend the use of its NJ casino license to theScore to operate online casino gaming. TheScoreBet launched in 2019 using an online sports betting skin from Monmouth Park Racetrack.

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