News Update: A quick update since FansUnite Entertainment Inc. went live on Tuesday, May 5, because big things are happening in the industry, thus showing there is an enormous appetite for this kind of technology especially now, as we (very slowly) emerge out of this COVID pandemic. . .FansUnite is at a small-cap entry point with tremendous upside. After a financing at $0.35, the now-trading company rests slightly above that as a relatively new and unknown entity—so far—which is why now is great opportunity participate in a smaller scale, yet leveraged, consolidation play. "We have a great opportunity to use our stock as currency, and then grow and scale companies through our team and resources," says CEO Darius Eghdami. Read the entire update here.
Lets face it: gamers love games. While currently there's a dearth of real sports activity, that doesn't mean people aren't starving something to speculate on. No sports? No problem. Consider that there is $50 billion dollars placed online every year, according to ESPN. That's a lot of hungry money looking for a place to play.
So, despite the absence of the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB, new online platforms are offering fun times for taking your chances on everything from reality TV shows, award shows, online gaming and virtual sports along with real in-the-flesh nail-biters like horse racing, table tennis and snooker. Who cares? It's all about the thrill of playing and winning. According to The Guardian, just last week, "as coronavirus and the subsequent shelter-in-place orders have shut businesses around the globe and forced people to stay inside, some jobs have proven more stable than others," it said referring to online players. "The four U.S. states with legal sites—New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania—reported record revenues in March." Meanwhile despite our current "modified behaviors" and "slowing of the economy," investors are also very keen on speculation in the gaming industry itself.
"FansUnite is at a small-cap entry point with tremendous upside."
Take, for example, DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG), which launched as recently as April 23, in the thick of this stay-at-home pandemic. After completing a merger with Diamond Eagle, a special purpose acquisition company, and back-end technology provider SBTech, its stock soared. Not only did DraftKings' stock jump 14% in its first day of trading before closing up 10.38% at $19.35, but the company was also able to add another half a billion dollars on the balance sheet at a time when it's not easy to raise money. The company is currently nearing a $1 billion market capitalization.
In this game, consolidation is key. Another highly successful big gaming conglomerate over-the-pond is UK-based GVC Gaming Group, which has been consolidating gaming assets over the last 15 years and is now worth $7.5 billion.
This week on the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) an emerging player is launching its platform onto the public market. FansUnite Entertainment Inc. (FANS:CSE), a company active in the gaming industry since 2014, is led by industry veterans who are looking to unleash their own high-growth consolidation strategy. The company is focusing on technology related to regulated and lawful internet activity and other related products.
Its business is to consolidate business-to-business (B2B) partnerships worldwide, operate its FansUnite business-to-consumer (B2C) coined Sportsbook launching later this year, and operate its recently acquired (March 26) Scottish subsidiary, McBookie, an online white-label sportsbook licensed and regulated by the U.K. Commission. Even considering the "COVID" delays in traditional sports, the company expects to generate at least $1 million in 2020. Considering FansUnite's experience in the space and its established technologies in an industry that is truly trending, FansUnite has a long runway from its current $25 million market cap to the billions-dollar peers it's chasing, and that is why this looks be a great stock to hold right out of the gate.
When you consider "B2B" in this scenario, consider an entity that wants to create a sportsbook, to become "the house," if you will. That company would turn to FansUnite to set up a turnkey "white-label" (as in use FansUnite technology but with its own brand) online platform, complete with user onboarding, fan integration and access to fulfillment in fiat currency (hard dollars) or cryptocurrency. For this service FansUnite takes a percentage of the "house earnings" and also charges for its Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. In the B2C scenario, FansUnite itself is the "house," using its own sportsbook and technology platform, and executes the marketing efforts to on-board new users.
McBookie, the company's first acquisition, is a white-label sportsbook in the UK, focusing on the Scottish market. It offers 200,000 members active in sports, and virtual games and boasts over $100 million turnover cumulatively the last three years. "It's a great brand with an experienced team operating for over a decade," says FansUnite CEO Darius Eghdami. "We completed this acquisition late March, and our focus currently is going to continue building our presence in the Scottish market."
Moving forward, Eghdami says the team will be putting an emphasis on M&A activity. "We'll continue to look for strong assets with either great technology or a strong database of users where we can come in with our team and resources and really grow and scale the business," he says.
With strong financial backing, Eghdami is also looking at potential opportunities in the colossal U.S. market. "The big heavyweights are coming into the U.S.. We don't intend to be an operator in the U.S., so we're looking at other ways to get in the market and that includes social peer activity, fan engagement, as well as licensed affiliate opportunities."
Eghdami points to another big success story in Canada, Amaya (TSE:TSGI), which is now The Stars Group and has a market capitalization of $11.5 billion. "It's a tremendous story of how they built the company and started to acquire assets. It's a model that we would love to follow."
After a crushing dip into the pandemic, TSGI.T is big-board player that has catapulted to new highs once the reality set in that social isolation might not necessarily be a bad thing for online gaming providers. According to Bloomberg, "The Stars Group Inc. says it saw record revenue in its first quarter as COVID-19 led to an increase in online activity starting in March. And, it says, it has continued to see increased activity in its online playing into the second quarter. In an update to its expectations for the three-month period ended March 31, the company says it expects revenue of approximately US$735 million, up from US$580 million in the first quarter of 2019."
"The stay-at-home lifestyle we now face in 2020 could result in a massive shift in the habits of players," says Eghdami. "Players that are used to going to the physical house, or the horse track, may now shift their habits to online. The older generation now may be signing up on online platforms and realize they can do this a lot easier. We're getting new users on the platform every day, and players starting to turn to virtual sports as well."
FansUnite is the brainchild of three entrepreneurs who have each already carved out more than a decade of in-the-trenches experience in the industry. Two of them including founder Eghdami and his former associate at KMPG, Graeme Moore, are chartered accountants, while co-founder Duncan McIntyre is a practicing lawyer schooled in mergers, acquisitions and corporate development. The teams' first success was the development of the FansUnite B2C social platform, which they eventually sold to a public company in 2016. FansUnite Social uses a free virtual currency for members to simulate the real thing while following and learning from their online heroes. The endgame, of course, is toward transferring the activity to the real-dollar platforms.
FansUnite Technology—B2C Social Platform
After the sale of the social peer platform, Eghdami and company decided to maintain the "FansUnite" brand equity in their new venture, launched in 2017. "We had the idea of getting into real-money sports gaming, spun it out of the pubic company, raised money in 2018 and started down this path. For the last year and a half we've been building our own technology to launch our sportsbook from a B2C perspective as well as prepare it for a full turn-key B2B solution. An option on the B2B platform will be a "smart contract sports book" whereby the funds are held "in-trust" and not accessible to FansUnite or end users until the event is completed and funds are directly sent to the winning party. The FansUnite platform is expected to accept cryptocurrency and regular fiat currency on its sportsbooks.
As part of FansUnite's roll-up strategy of entering into other world markets, acquiring yet maintaining well-established brands is the key to building its global B2B customers and B2C end users. The company is well funded with access to capital. Much of its support comes from industry leaders on the board like Shafin Diamond, CEO of Victory Square since 2015, a venture builder that builds start-ups in web, mobile, gaming, AI and AR/VR. Diamond has launched 40 start-ups in 24 countries, employed more than 350 people, and has generated over $100 million in annual revenues. He has received numerous awards, including the BC Tech Person of the Year Award, BC Angel Investor of the Year in 2014, and Business in Vancouver's Top 40 under 40.
FansUnite recently completed a financing of $3.1 million at $0.35 (free trading upon listing) and used $500,000 cash for the McBookie transaction before launching its IPO on the CSE. Total consideration for the McBookie deal was for approximately CAD$2.2 million, composed of the $500,000 cash up front, and $500,000 cash to be paid within 12 months, the rest in stock, at $0.35 a share, vesting and unrestricting over a course of 36 months.
Currently, management and insiders hold about 20% of the 70 million shares outstanding, and there are 3.5 million options and 1.4 million warrants with a weighted average price of $0.48 and $0.17 respectively, so no scary skeletons in the closet. Eghdami says the company is now sitting on about a $2 million war chest and burning about $175,000 per month. Should investor speculation lift its share price (as predicted here), it should be able to execute is M&A activity with a much stronger currency.
With $1 trillion waged annually, according to UK-based Football Report, the global market for this kind of technology is insane. Apparently, due to "COVID self-containment," it's "trending" even more as digital consumers are quarantined in their homes with nothing better to do but play on their computers.
As we hopefully ease out of this economic situation, FansUnite will have to execute fast and furiously. Now launching on the CSE at C$0.35 with a current market capitalization of $25 million, it has a long way to go, and much to prove, toward reaching the billion-dollar heights of its gaming peers, but the pie is big and the appetite is certainly there.
This is one race worth watching.
Knox Henderson is a journalist and capital markets communications consultant. He has advised for a broad range of small cap companies in the resource, life sciences and technology sectors for more than 25 years.[NLINSERT]
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