The speed at which big brands have changed can sometimes be a little dizzying. The latest such announcement has amazed some, but we’ll try to shed some light on the situation.
science games, as a name, has been around for nearly half a century. The original company of the same name began operations in 1973 as a manufacturer of lottery tickets. Another company, Autotote, bought it in 2000 and took the name as his own. In a few months, all this will change, because the company renews its visual identity to become Light & Wonder.
49 years is pretty much an eternity in the gambling world. When it comes to online gambling, it’s literally prehistoric, as this concept has been around for under 30 years old.
The fact that the company and its name have been such a constant makes yesterday’s unexpected announcement all the more surprising. The company made the announcement to investors during its fourth quarter 2021 earnings call. It also hosted an in-person brand reveal, attended by the Governor of Nevada Steve Sisolack. However, the wall street journal readers were told first, as CEO Barry Cottle leaked the news to the newspaper in an exclusive interview the day before.
Although the official name change won’t happen until Q2, the company has already rolled out what will be its new website.
With the name change comes a change in focus
The announcement may have been unexpected, but it’s not a random decision. Scientific Games has been adjusting its business strategy for a year. Its leaders felt that the new approach also called for a new image.
For much of the past two decades, the company had broadened its reach. Its product line has expanded to include hardware and software, both front-end and back-end, for retail and online use, in the lottery, sports betting and casino industries. In the process, he burdened himself with mounting debt towards $10 billion. Last year, the company decided it was time to get rid of some of that debt and focus more.
Although Scientific Games’ original specialty was lottery products, and Autotote served the pari-mutuel industry, it was these parts of the business that Cottle and the board decided to do away with. The future of business, as they see it, is in casino games, and specifically in the online casino space.
In the second half of 2021, it first sold its sports betting division and then its lottery business a month later.
Corporate makeovers are all the rage in online gambling
Scientific Games is not the only major company involved in online gaming in the United States to make such a change. It’s actually becoming a trend, with at least three other equally significant corporate makeovers in as many years. As with Scientific Games, each of these identity changes has been accompanied by a significant strategic shift.
Paddy Power Betfair set the tone in 2019 by becoming Flutter Entertainment. His motivation was, in part, the growing importance of FanDuel. She had acquired this company in 2017, anticipating the repeal of PASPA and the beginning of legal sports betting in the United States. Neither Paddy Power nor Betfair had a recognized name in the United States, so the conglomerate needed a new high profile identity not directly related to this initial merger. He later added even more brands to his stable with the acquisition of The star groupincluding Poker Stars, Fox Bet and Sky Paris and games.
Another European online gambling conglomerate, GVC, was next, changing his name to hear. Here, the change was accompanied by efforts to clean up the company’s overall image. Entain, which was on shaky regulatory ground due to the activities of some of its subsidiaries, withdrew from gray markets and tried to show its commitment to compliance and accountability.
Then there was Twin River Worldwide Holdings, who bought The Atlantic town of Bally in order to access the online gambling market in New Jersey. He eventually decided to purchase the Bally name as well, taking it as his own, as the Twin River brand had little value outside of his home state of Rhode Island. Its subsequent involvement in the online gaming space included the purchase of Games, and the appointment of the CEO of this company, Lee Fenton, to lead the combined company.
No more spreadsheets, make way for chewing gum
However, the change for Scientific Games seems to be bigger than for any of these companies. Looking at the new website, there is very little that would tell you that the new company has anything to do with the old one.
The way Scientific Games has always presented itself is in keeping with its name. The graphic part of its logo consists of a square grid, recalls a spreadsheet. Most are in grayscale, a few in blue and red. Its website is also corporate, emphasizing that it is a business-to-business enterprise focused on improving efficiency and results.
The Light & Wonder site couldn’t be more different. Squares are out, circles are in. Blue and gray have been replaced with pink and purple. Facts and figures have been moved in favor of cartoon characters.
While the word “magic” doesn’t actually appear in the new name, that’s the vibe the rebrand gives off. This is a company that no longer wants to be scientific. He wants to be magical.
At least that will make it unique among its competitors. Their brands all still sound very sterile and corporate: Playtech, international gaming technology, evolution, etc
It’s perhaps too speculative to say at this point, but it almost feels like Light & Wonder is positioning itself to appeal to the end user as well as its corporate clients.