Last week saw online casino games innovator NYX Gaming Group Limited launch an anti-trust lawsuit against William Hill amid allegations that the giant British bookmaker had attempted to block its previously-announced acquisition by Scientific Games Corporation.
Las Vegas-based NYX Gaming Group Limited filed its legal action with the Chancery Division of the New Jersey Superior Court in Atlantic County on Friday contending that William Hill, which holds some 6.8 million of the firm’s ordinary shares, had engaged in ‘wrongful conduct in violation of the New Jersey Anti-Trust Act’ by endeavoring to scupper the deal with Scientific Games Corporation.
NYX Gaming Group Limited stated that its acquisition by Nasdaq-listed Scientific Games Corporation is set to result in ‘great benefits to the nascent regulated sportsbetting industry.’ NYX Gaming further stated that the lawsuit, which also names the London-based bookmaker’s William Hill Steeplechase Limited subsidiary as a co-defendant, is seeking ‘injunctive relief, treble damages and attorney’s fees’ along with punitive damages for ‘tortious interference with economic advantage and tortious interference with contract’.
Scientific Games Corporation provisionally agreed a deal in September that could see it spend up to $631 million in order to acquire all of NYX Gaming Group Limited’s outstanding shares. It stated at the time that the purchase price represents a 112% premium on the stock price of its target as of September 19. The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that the combined entity would create a serious competitor to William Hill in United States jurisdictions such as Nevada.
However, NYX Gaming Group Limited reportedly told the newspaper that William Hill had ‘repeatedly threatened to block the acquisition by purchasing additional shares of [its] stock’ while moreover ‘exercising a conversion right’ on its existing investment.
The Daily Telegraph furthermore reported that NYX Gaming Group Limited alleged that William Hill’s efforts to block the takeover could ultimately lead to shareholders losing around $50 million ‘and perhaps even more than double the amount’ in compensation. It additionally charged that its antagonist had ‘engaged in a course of categorically anti-competitive conduct’ in attempting to secure concessions from itself and Scientific Games Corporation that were ‘commercially unreasonable and illegal’.
For its part, William Hill reportedly told the newspaper that it was in the process of considering Scientific Games Corporation’s offer for NYX Gaming Group and ‘refutes in the strongest terms that any anti-competitive measure has been requested or is being demanded’.