After a little over a month ago clearing the purchasing check of the Competition and Markets Authority, the non-ministerial government department released its 34-page full-text decision on the acquisition of Novomatic’s Gaming Technology Group (NTG) by Inspired Entertainment.
The acquisition initially agreed in June will see Inspired acquire several Novomatic UK companies, including Astra Games, minus its retained casino business, Bell Fruit Group, Gamestec Leisure, Harlequin Gaming and Playnation, as well as the 60% stake inInnov8 Gaming Limited.
The CMA did not refer the case under the terms of the Enterprise Act, preferring to approve the purchase agreement on the basis that the contract does not cause a significant reduction in competition on the market.
The CMA shared details of how it came to the decision in its lengthy document: “The parties’ combined share (by new installed gaming machines) in the supply of B3 gaming machines to AGCs and bingo halls in the UK, between 2016-2018, was less than 30 per cent, both to AGCs and bingo halls combined and separately. The retained business will remain an effective competitor in the supply of B3 gaming machines to AGCs and bingo halls.
“As a result, the number of independent competitors competing to supply AGCs and bingo halls will remain the same post-merger. After the merger, the parties will have a similar share of supply to Novomatic pre-merger, even taking into account Inspired’s likely expansion within this segment. Scientific Games and Blueprint will continue to effectively constrain the parties.”
Before going on to stipulate: “The CMA has also considered the possibility of Inspired foreclosing rival gaming content providers after the merger, by refusing them access to the parties gaming machines.
“The CMA has found evidence that, although it cannot be excluded that Inspired may have the ability to foreclose some content providers as a result of the merger, Inspired will not have the incentive to engage in a foreclosure strategy of its rival gaming content providers, given that the losses of this strategy would outweigh any potential gains.
“Accordingly, the CMA found that the merger does not give rise to a realistic prospect of an SLC, as a result of vertical effects, in relation to the supply of gaming content in the UK.”
Inspired notes that it aims to draw on the core strengths of each company to extend distribution, introduce differentiated goods to new sectors and geographies, drive key growth strategies, and provide improved technologies, platforms, field service and content.