Media mogul Barry Diller’s IAC/Interactive Corp. disclosed it has acquired 12% of MGM Resorts International for about $1 billion in a bet on the casino operator’s nascent online-gambling business.
IAC’s portfolio of online brands includes Angie’s List, the Daily Beast, and Vimeo. It spun off Tinder owner Match Group last month, leaving it with $3.9 billion in cash and zero debt.
Investing some of that money in MGM gives Diller an entrée into the online gambling business, which is expected to reach about $60 billion this year in the U.S.
“We believe MGM presented a ‘once in a decade’ opportunity for IAC to own a meaningful piece of a preeminent brand in a large category with great potential to move online,” Diller and IAC Chief Executive Joey Levin said in a letter to IAC shareholders, adding that they hoped “our expertise will be additive to MGM’s opportunities.”
MGM owns 19 casino properties, including the Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. It partnered with GVC Holdings in 2018 to develop the BetMGM online gaming platform in the U.S. but the joint venture has yet to make much of a contribution to MGM’s revenue.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, “MGM, like other casino operators, has been suffering from the continuing financial toll that coronavirus-pandemic-related shutdowns and curtailed global travel have taken on the gambling industry.”
But Diller and Levin said they believed the company “has enough cash and access to capital to make it to the other side competitively stronger” and is an “aspirational brand” that could offer gaming consumers “a wider range of services, both physical and digital, than any competitor.”
According to an SEC filing, IAC spent $1.02 billion buying 59 million MGM shares, including some 34.4 million shares since July 29.
“IAC’s family of brands and digital expertise are a great complement to the direction MGM Resorts has been taking both in leveraging our digital assets to enhance our guests’ experience and building a leading iGaming and sports betting business in BetMGM,” MGM Chairman Paul Salem said in a news release.