VSO New Year Special: Gambling Industry Winners Of 2023

The New Year is fast approaching and it’s time for the gambling industry to reflect on the one that’s been. The headlines have included more sports betting expansion into new states, major acquisitions, and even a companywide ransomware attack or two.

For some, the year has provided a chance for redemption after a turbulent 2022, while others have gone from hero to zero in the space of just 12 months. Now that the year is almost over, it’s time to sort the winners from the losers.

Utilizing the stock prices of the gaming giants, including operators and suppliers, VegasSlotsOnline News has compiled a list of the winners of 2023. From DraftKings to MGM Resorts International and AGS, all of these companies have had a stellar year.

5. MGM Resorts International January share price: $37.70 December share price: $40.35 Increase: 8% MGM has witnessed a healthy year-on-year rise in its revenue throughout 2023, contributing to its 8% growth in share price. For the 12 months to September 2023, the casino giant generated income of $15.38bn, up 22% from the year prior. The last reported quarter in Q3 2023 continued this growth trend, with a 16% y-o-y increase.

a ransomware attack left MGM’s systems down in its Las Vegas properties

The company hasn’t been without its troubles though, which is probably why its share price growth remains modest. In September, a ransomware attack left MGM’s systems down in its Las Vegas properties, including slot machines, room keys, and even elevators. It was weeks before the company resolved the issue, reportedly costing it up to $100m.

To make matters worse, MGM workers approved strike action in both Las Vegas and Detroit as they attempted to secure new contracts. The tense situation – which at one point could have led to a strike during the F1 race weekend in Las Vegas – ultimately resulted in more beneficial deals for the workers in both cities.

Given the difficult time MGM has had this year, the 8% share price increase can certainly be classified as a win. The future is looking brighter for the company too after it recently secured a deal to launch Japan’s first casino resort by 2030. The firm is also eyeing up a casino in the United Arab Emirates.

4. Churchill Downs Incorporated January share price: $44.11 December share price: $46.24 Increase: 10% Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) saw a staggering 49% year-on-year increase in its revenue for the third quarter of 2023. This contributed to its 40% rise in revenue for the 12 months to September 2023, reaching $2.38bn in that time.

Business is booming for the traditional US horse racing brand and that might be why its share price has risen 10% since January. This was boosted recently by the launch of sports betting in CDI’s home state of Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear placed the state’s first bet at the Churchill Downs racetrack in September.

I just placed the first legal sports bet in Kentucky!

Today, I took the OVER on UofL and UK football wins, and of course the UNDER on Duke. But my bigger bets are on the future of this Commonwealth! pic.twitter.com/U8eVzDQbuR

— Andy Beshear (@AndyBeshearKY) September 7, 2023 The company’s share price hit a peak of $149.08 in May this year, a spike that coincided with the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby. Wagering set a new record of $288.7m, beating the previous year by around 5%.

CDI has found itself embroiled in controversy, however. The company’s share price gradually descended following the Derby during an investigation into horse deaths that stumped officials. CDI had to cancel the races on its Spring Meet calendar after a dozen horse fatalities at its Kentucky track. Officials could find no evidence that the track surface had caused the deaths and racing resumed in August.

Regardless, it’s been another solid year for CDI and it will hope it can keep that momentum as we shift into 2024.

3. Light & Wonder January share price: $59.38 December share price: $87.85 Increase: 48% iGaming supplier Light & Wonder (formerly Scientific Games) has seen success after success in 2023. This continued into the latest reported quarter in Q3 when the firm reported record growth in both its SciPlay and iGaming revenue. It marked the fifth consecutive quarter of year-on-year, double-digit growth and contributed to a year-to-date revenue of $2.13bn, up 17% from 2022.

gaming machine sales have seen consistent growth, up 23%

This success is owed to a range of factors. Firstly, gaming machine sales have seen consistent growth, up 23% for the third quarter of 2023. Similarly, gaming operations revenue is on the rise, particularly in North America where it has grown for the past 13 quarters. US iGaming revenue specifically grew 25% in Q3, and that growth stands to increase even more after the recent rollout of live casino in Michigan.

The company also completed its purchase of SciPlay in a deal worth $500m. The company purchased the remaining 17% of the company while also offloading its lottery division to Brookfield Business Partners for $5bn. Light & Wonder CEO Matt Wilson asserted that the financial growth of his company provided validation of these business moves.

All of this has contributed to a steady rise in Light & Wonder share price since the beginning of the year, reaching $87.85 in December. To put that into perspective, that is a 250% increase on the share price from five years ago. November also brought an all-time high, at $88.39.

2. PlayAGS January share price: 5.11 December share price: 7.71 Increase: 51% The second supplier to make our list is US-based company PlayAGS, otherwise known as AGS. Despite still remaining a much smaller company than others on this list, AGS’ stellar year can’t be ignored. Its revenue grew 14% for the third quarter of 2023 as it saw strong growth in all of its three business segments. This was particularly true in equipment sales, which were up 30% to $27.8m.

This success was due in part to a string of deals sealed by PlayAGS this year. That includes an agreement to supply online gamine content to Caesars Sportsbook and Casino, sealed in January. The deal includes Caesars operations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and it’s an agreement that AGS General Manager of Interactive said would help further Caesars’ “position as a leading operator.”

PlayAGS shares have increased 51% throughout 2023, reaching a peak of $7.94 in July. This total remains dwarfed by the $32.04 price secured by the company in 2018, however, the company is back heading in the right direction after the pandemic in 2020 coincided with a rapid drop to just $1.44.

1. DraftKings January share price: 11.63 December share price: 37.19 Increase: 220% Last but by no means least, we head over to the ever-growing world of sports betting for one of the biggest names in the game. Just 12 years ago, DraftKings was in a much different position. The US-based sportsbook giant made our top losers list of 2022 after its shares dropped 57% for the year. This was thanks to a list of challenges, including missed projections, a hacking breach, and rising marketing costs.

the company surpassed its biggest rival FanDuel for US market share

This year, things have turned around in a major way for DraftKings. Most recently, the company surpassed its biggest rival FanDuel for US market share. The firm now has an online gambling share of 31% versus FanDuel’s 30%. The figures include both iGaming and sports betting, while FanDuel remains in the lead for betting alone.

Matt Kalish, President of DraftKings North America, shared a graph on X to indicate the growth:

As for revenue, that has seen a significant uptick also. DraftKings reported third-quarter revenue of $790m, well above forecast, while its losses were much less than anticipated. Shares jumped more than 11% upon the announcement of the news last month, which included a 57% year-on-year revenue spike. Average monthly unique players also climbed a staggering 40% to 2.3 million for the period.

DraftKings CEO and Co-Founder Jason Robins has attributed this in part to continued expansion across the US, including the recent launch of an online sportsbook in Kentucky. The company is also awaiting licenses and regulatory approvals in Maine and North Carolina.

Evidently, the sports betting giant is far from slowing down and its share price rise of 220% reflects that. The company still has a long way to go to reach its peak of $71.98 secured during the pandemic in 2021, but it is certainly moving in the right direction after a turbulent 2022.