Irish digital gaming outfit PlayON strikes deal with Formula 1
PlayON says it intends to enter the US market in 2018 on the back of the F1 deal
Formula 1 has taken a stake in the €35m Irish-owned sports and digital gaming company. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters
PlayON, an Irish-owned sports and digital gaming company chaired by former Quinnsworth and C&C executive Maurice Pratt, has struck a partnership with Formula 1, which has also taken a stake in the growing €35 million business.
The deal will see the Irish company, which operates a fantasy sports gaming platform, run a fantasy F1 game where users pick five drivers for each race. PlayON, which has ambitions to evolve into a broad-based sports media and digital entertainment outfit, will also host coverage of real-life F1 races.
PlayON, founded by former Merrion Capital equity analyst Killian Jones, says it intends to enter the US market in 2018 on the back of the F1 deal. He declined to reveal the size of the equity stake taken by F1, but confirmed the deal was conducted on a £30 million (€34.5 m) valuation of the business.
The business is run from Dublin, but the holding entity is in the UK, hence its sterling finances. As a result of the F1 deal, staff numbers in Dublin will rise by 10 to more than 20. PlayON, which conducted two fundraising rounds last year, may look to raise more equity later this year, Mr Jones said.
The company has subscribers from 100 countries, to which it offers fantasy gaming on a range of sports, such as football, basketball, golf, cricket, tennis, NFL in the US and both rugby codes.
Its users can engage in real money sports gaming, but only in jurisdictions fully regulated for online gaming, including Britain, Ireland and Australia.
“In light of the regulatory environment around daily fantasy sports now being clearly established in multiple US states, PlayON...will enter the US market... and will establish a US office to fuel our expansion efforts in North America,” said Mr Jones.
Frank Arthofer, director of digital and new business at Formula 1, said its partnership with PlayON would allow it to connect with younger fans.
He added that its strategy of only allowing real money gaming in regulated countries “is the right one for long-term success in the industry”.