Scientific Games – A Detailed Examination of the Casino Games Company
There are several big name companies which have grown to dominate the worldwide gaming industry, but of these, few can match the power and influence of the massive Scientific Games conglomerate. This Las Vegas headquartered behemoth is responsible for the employment of well over 10,000 people based all over the globe. The company has offices on six continents – we can be sure they would also have a presence in Antarctica if international agreements had not prohibited it.
The company has major offices all across the Americas, including Chicago and Atlanta in the United States; Quebec in Canada, Mexico City; Buenos Aires in Argentina and Santiago in Chile. In Europe, there are premises near London and in Leeds in the United Kingdom; Vienna in Austria and Barcelona in Spain. There are also significant international offices in Bangalore, India; Macau a Special Administrative Region of China; in Sydney, Australia and several more. Indeed, there can be few countries or markets where Scientific Games’ tentacles have yet to reach.
Moreover, within these countries and markets, there are few areas of the gaming industry in which Scientific Games do not play a part. As you would expect from a company headquartered in the renowned gaming capital of the world, Las Vegas, Scientific Games are major players in the worldwide land based casino industry. They design and manufacture machines and their cabinets, plus the gaming software necessary to make them run. The company also operate the software platforms and linking technology which enables single machines within a casino to be networked. This enables enormous progressive jackpot pay outs to be offered to real world players.
Scientific Games are also major sports betting providers, designing and operating their own software as well as licencing it out to their commercial partners. They can also provide the software platform on which the sports betting operations run. The same is the case for the online casino industry. Scientific Games designs the actual games as well as providing and operating the necessary platform too.
The company also has major interests in the Lottery sector too. Scientific Games licence and operate lotteries across more than fifty different countries worldwide. These include both national and state lotteries. There are also some commercially run independent lotteries too, where these are permitted by local and national regulatory bodies. The company is also involved in many other aspects of the industry including designing lottery software and providing retail point of sale (POS) machinery. In addition, there is POS merchandising and marketing materials; accounting and ticketing systems, and supplying the necessary training for retail and POS staff. Finally, the company also provide the software for the apps which enable mobile sales.
Scientific Games Financial Performance
The sheer size of the Scientific Games operation can be seen by studying the figures. The company’s full year results for 2019 (the last full year for which figures are available at the time of writing) show total worldwide revenues of $3.4 billion. It’s certainly an impressive performance, but the company has been struggling to turn a decent profit from this revenue.
The headline figure may be a head turner, but actually translated into a net loss on income of $130 million. This represents a margin of loss of 4%. These are poor returns by any measure, although they do represent an improvement on the previous year, which saw losses on income of $352 million (a margin of minus 10%).
The current board is confident that the business performance can be turned around, and that the company is heading in the right direction. CEO Barry Cottle pointed to new commercial deals and contracts, which he said indicated that “we are on the right path”. Meanwhile Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Michael Quartieri pointed out the company’s efforts at paying down its legacy debts, with over $460 million worth of debt paid off in 2019.
Nevertheless interest payments on these loans are currently running at a consistent level of around $600 million per year, so there is much more work to do. Also, it must be remembered that these figures are also from before the 2020 Covid crisis, which will surely have affected revenues further – particularly the company’s real world casino interests. Indeed, early indications suggest a likely revenue loss of around 10% for the year when compared with 2019.
Market analysts seem divided on the company’s short term prospects, with the NASDAQ share price hovering around the $40 mark at the time of writing.
Scientific Games is more like a shell company, with dozens of wholly owned subsidiary companies providing much of the conglomerate’s revenues. Big name gaming brands which actually wholly belong under the Scientific Games corporate wing include Bally Technology, Barcrest, NextGen Gaming, NYX Gaming, OpenBet and WMS Industries.
These are just some of the big names which will be familiar to UK and Europe based players. There are dozens of smaller companies too, together with large corporations which operate in other sectors of the gaming industry. These include lottery firms EssNet and The Global Draw and Canada based DEQ Systems. Scientific Games also holds significant stakes in a variety of other gaming industry players, such as Northstar Lottery Group (US), Lotterie Nazionali (Italy), Guard Libang (China) and Sportech (UK).
Much of the Scientific Games conglomerate’s game design work is done by its subsidiary operations. This means that there are few branded Scientific Games slots and even these are almost certainly the result of work elsewhere in the group. Referring to games as a ‘Scientific Games’ design is a bit like suggesting all the food you buy is made by Tesco, on the grounds that that is where you got it from.
Summary of Scientific Games
Scientific Games may well be a little below par financially, but debts and losses for mega corporations like this rarely result in catastrophe. Brands may change ownership, but companies this size have access to a multitude of different investment sources. Unlike you and I, who may have to rely on credit cards, pay day lenders or loan sharks, conglomerates like Scientific Games have the likes of investment banks, wealthy shareholders and pension funds more than happy to bail them out at ultra-low interest rates or for a small dividend.