By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES Dec 4 Slot-machine maker Bally
Technologies BYI.N is exploring a bid for online poker game
developer 3G Studios, in what would be the latest deal to
combine online gambling and casino gaming on social media, said
two sources with knowledge of the talks.
One source said several Bally Technologies executives were
scheduled to visit 3G's offices in Reno, Nevada on Tuesday to
determine whether to make a formal bid.
Bally had no immediate comment. Abbi Whitaker, a spokeswoman
for Reno, Nevada-based 3G Studios declined comment but
acknowledged the company recently hired Wedbush Securities as
its financial adviser.
Another source familiar with the matter said 3G, which
helped develop a mobile version of the music video game Rock
Band for Harmonix Music Systems, had been talking with others
about a potential acquisition or partnerships.
"3G is holding initial talks with potential buyers," said
that source, mentioning video game maker Activision Blizzard
(ATVI.O), slot-machine maker International Game Technology
(IGT.N) and video game giant Electronic Arts (EA.O) as potential
buyers or partners.
A sale of 3G could range between $60 million and $100
million, the source said.
Activision Blizzard had no immediate comment, while IGT and
Electronic Arts declined comment.
In August, 3G Studios applied to the Nevada Gaming Control
Board for an online gaming license, and it is scheduled to start
an online poker site called SlotALot with casino operator
Eldorado Hotels in the spring. It also makes a free game
available on tablets and smart phones that is played for virtual
Other slot makers have made moves to enter social gaming,
which they view as a way to market to younger gamblers as well
as tap a potentially lucrative market for online market that
generates revenues by charging users to pay for virtual chips.
Several U.S. casino operators are teaming with online game
developers as they gear up for the Internet gambling market
which is expected to reach $10 billion in bets a year by 2017.
Market leader IGT paid $500 million in January for
DoubleDown Interactive, which makes free slots, poker and other
games for Facebook. DoubleDown produced $35.8 million in
fourth-quarter revenues, IGT said, a 20 percent hike from the
third quarter. [nL3E8M7BQG].
"The social gaming business is up for grabs. I think we're
in a space where we'll see deal activity, largely on the
technology side. For casinos, social gaming content is king
right now," said Carlo Santarelli, analyst with Deutsche Bank.
Online gambling is now legal in Nevada and Delaware, while
Wisconsin, New Jersey, California, and nine other states are
moving towards legalization after the Justice Department ruled
last year that only online betting on sporting contests was
According to the American Gaming Association, about 85
countries have legalized online gambling and an estimated $35
billion is being bet worldwide online each year, including by
millions of people in the United States.
Slot maker WMS Industries Inc (WMS.N) said in October it
expected to announce partnerships to provide online game
platforms to land-based casino operators.
Both IGT and Bally have been granted online gaming licenses
in Nevada, which allows them to partner with Nevada's casinos to
provide online poker and other games through their machines.
Social gaming company Zynga (ZNGA.O), a market leader with
34 million online users of its virtual currency poker title on
Facebook, has said it plans to move into real money gambling.
But some industry executives see Zynga as an attractive
takeover target with its stock price hoving just above $2 a
share down from a 52-week high of $15.91.
(Reporting By Susan Zeidler; Edited by Ronald Grover and Leslie
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Keywords: 3GSTUDIO BALLY/
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