GM-backed game developer Playstudios is reportedly in talks with a special purpose acquisition company to go public, according to Bloomberg.
Playstudios would be discussing a deal with Acies Acquisition Corp., a SPAC that counts former MGM Resorts International Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren as its chairman, the prestigious news agency reported. The transaction would value the combined entity at $1 billion or more and could be announced in coming weeks.
Playstudios, which makes gambling-themed games such as myVegas Slots and myVegas Blackjack, is backed by MGM. Users of its playAwards loyalty program can redeem points at more than a dozen MGM properties, including the Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Luxor and Mandalay Bay. The rewards are good for free rooms, meals and other perks. Earlier this week, the developer announced it expanded its partnership with MGM Resorts International adding the MGM Springfield hotel and casino resort to its collection of in-app rewards for loyal players, the 17th MGM's venue.
Other investors in Las Vegas-based Playstudios include Icon Ventures, Incendium Capital and DCM Capital.
In October, Acies raised about $215 million in an initial public offering and set out looking for a merger target. SPACs like Acies pool cash and then strike deals with businesses looking to go public without the uncertainty of an IPO. Mobile-gaming company Skillz and sports-betting firm DraftKings both went public last year via SPAC deals. Golden Nugget Online Gaming and Rush Street Interactive also went that route recently.
Acies already has ties with the merger target. Andrew Pascal, the CEO of Playstudios, is a co-founder and adviser to Acies. The longtime casino-industry executive previously served as president of the Wynn Las Vegas resort. Pascal co-founded Playstudios in 2011, in what was the early days of social casino games. The industry uses free-to-play titles that let players win points exchangeable for more play or real-world items.
The market has been growing fast, particularly during the coronavirus lockdown. Earlier this month, market leader Platika Holding Corp. went public in a deal that valued the business at more than $11 billion. Revenue in the social casino market rose 24% to $7 billion worldwide last year, according to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC, a research firm. Playstudios ranked eighth, with revenue of about $274 million.
Jim Murren has a noncompete agreement with MGM that precludes him from entering into businesses related to “gaming facilities” that expires March 22.
MGM Springfield became this week the 17th MGM Resorts International property to be featured in the playAWARDS catalog, allowing players to redeem loyalty points earned playing any of Playstudios' free-to-play social casino-type games for complimentary and discounted rewards from the resort's food and beverage portfolio.
"This is an important extension of a partnership that has been very successful for both Playstudios and MGM Resorts International," Playstudios Founder, Chair, and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Pascal, said in a press release. "Our companies recently celebrated our eighth anniversary as partners. We are proud to say that the relationship is stronger than ever. With MGM Springfield now represented in our rewards catalog, the global family of Playstudios players will be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and experiences offered at this one-of-a-kind resort."
Chris Kelley, President & COO of MGM Springfield, said "We're excited to see our partnership with PLAYSTUDIOS continue to evolve as our company rolls out new resorts and amenities. Adding MGM Springfield to the playAWARDS program gives their players an opportunity to experience the excitement of MGM Resorts on the East Coast."
MGM Springfield offerings became available to players on January 8. Redemptions are temporarily limited to eateries operating under state-mandated pandemic guidelines, with additional rewards from the hotel, casino, and other amenities to be added to in the coming weeks and months.
Playstudios and MGM Resorts International first partnered in August 2012. Today, players can access rewards from additional MGM properties, including Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Park MGM, Vdara, The Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur, MGM National Harbor, Borgata, Beau Rivage, Gold Strike, and MGM Cotai.
Playstudios games allow players to earn rewards just for playing myVEGAS Slots, myKONAMI Slots, myVEGAS Blackjack, and POP! Slots apps, which are available to download and play free on iOS, Android, and Kindle devices.