WMS EXPANDING BLUEBIRD2'S GLOBAL REACH WITH ENTRY INTO NEW SOUTH WALES MARKET
WMS Gaming Inc. will expand the global market penetration of the company’s popular fully digital Bluebird2 gaming machines with its entry into Australia’s New South Wales gaming market.
New South Wales is one of the world’s largest gaming markets outside of North America, with WMS estimating there are more than 94,000 gaming machines located primarily in clubs and pubs.
WMS expects to build market share in New South Wales by leveraging its broad video reel game library of proven G+, Innovation and other well-recognized, player-appealing game themes. Approval from the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing to commence the inaugural Australian field trial in the NSW market is expected by Friday, with field trial to begin immediately after approval is received. Pending completion of a series of required field trials, final regulatory approval for WMS’ games and gaming machines in New South Wales is expected by early calendar 2010.
WMS has entered into an agreement with eBet Gaming Systems, a subsidiary of eBet Limited (ASX:EBT), to serve as the exclusive sales, distribution and technology services provider for WMS’ gaming products in New South Wales. eBet is a leading Australian gaming supplier of gaming systems, software and networked gaming technology solutions to a majority of NSW club facilities. In addition to serving as distributor, eBet will also provide WMS with technical support services and its established “translator and market protocols” that will facilitate WMS’ product offerings meeting appropriate NSW regulatory requirements in a timely manner.
In addition to the distribution and services agreement, WMS will make available to eBet, at eBet’s discretion, a five-year, 8.5 percent convertible note with proceeds of up to A$3.5 million (US$2.8 million) being deployed to support eBet’s market growth. The notes will vest over three years and will be convertible into eBet shares at a conversion price of approximately A$0.11 per share. Should all of the notes be converted, WMS would hold approximately 32 million eBet shares or approximately 15 percent of eBet’s current issued share capital. In addition, eBet will grant options to WMS that will be exercisable at a further premium to present market price should certain performance metrics be achieved.
“Australia’s New South Wales gaming market is a meaningful opportunity for WMS to grow our international presence. Slot players in the NSW market prefer the excitement and interactive entertainment of video reel games, which aligns well with the core attributes of our broad product portfolio,” said Orrin J. Edidin, president of WMS. “We believe Australian players will appreciate the benefits of our innovative Bluebird2 platform given the strong, early acceptance of our Bluebird2 gaming machine in other markets around the world; and, as players experience the gaming excitement provided by our differentiated product offerings, we expect to steadily increase our share in one of the world’s best established gaming markets.
Edidin noted WMS’ strategic alignment with eBet to utilize their robust technology and systems’ capabilities will allow WMS to meet NSW regulatory requirements in an expeditious manner. “eBet has an accomplished management team with extensive gaming experience in the Australian gaming industry and, with their broad market penetration in NSW, will support our mutually beneficial growth goals to build WMS’ share in this market,” he said. “Our entry into the New South Wales gaming market with such a strong partner represents an excellent opportunity to generate incremental growth and build shareholder value.”
“WMS is the ideal partner for us to drive into the Australian gaming machine market,” said Tony Toohey, chief executive officer and managing director of eBet Limited. “We know and understand the market and its customers; and WMS’ innovative products will, in our opinion, have very strong player appeal. We are excited by the opportunity to align eBet with WMS, a globally renowned innovative gaming company recognized for its investment in leading-edge and highly creative technology that has produced a consistent stream of products with unique gaming features, strong player appeal and excellent returns for gaming venues. We believe this agreement is the first step in eBet building a strong and mutually profitable relationship with WMS.”