Light & Wonder Gets Into the Customer Loyalty Business With House Advantage Acquisition

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One would imagine that “commitment”, “evolution” and “focus” are frequently-uttered words around the executive offices of Light & Wonder, Inc. (L&W) these days.

On October 6, the Las Vegas-based omnichannel casino supplier announced the acquisition of “substantially all of the assets” of House Advantage, LLC. It paid an undisclosed sum in an all-cash deal for House Advantage, which has offices in Las Vegas and India.

House Advantage’s products center on its Halo platform (which it stylizes HALo, short for House Advantage LOyalty). Through this, it supplies loyalty solutions for the gaming and hospitality industries.

Halo provides a “unifying technology layer” that aggregates retail and online data. Once connected to an online casino platform, it will allow L&W customers to offer their players customized marketing and loyalty programs.

With regard to acquisition, L&W CEO Matt Wilson said:

Loyalty is no longer just about a player’s card. It’s about the player journey across all touchpoints. By welcoming the HA team to L&W, we are strengthening our position and accelerating the transformation and growth of our systems business to drive greater value for our customers… and to capitalize on the growing convergence of digital and land-based gaming.

Solidifying Senior Management

Jon Wolfe, who founded House Advantage in 2004 and served as CEO until the sale, will stay on with the company after the acquisition. At L&W, he will serve as Senior VP and President of Global Systems and Services. Another 20 or so House Advantage employees will also join him in making the move.

Wolfe isn’t the only new addition to L&W’s leadership, either. Wilson only became the company’s permanent CEO last week. He had briefly been interim CEO since former CEO Barry Cottle’s resignation in August. Before that, he was the company’s Executive Vice President and Group Chief Executive of Gaming.

Siobhan Lane will take over Wilson’s former position as CEO of Gaming. She has been the division’s Chief Commercial Officer since February 2020, as well as Vice President of the Global Gaming Women Board of Directors.

The Previous Steps

L&W, formerly known as Scientific Games, is in the process of transforming its identity and becoming a more tightly-focused company.  In June 2021, it announced its intent to focus on the online casino business and divest itself of its other divisions.

It has recently completed the divestment portion of that strategy. In doing so, it has solidified what had been a highly-leveraged balance sheet and achieved the goal of narrowing its focus.

Alongside this, the company has engaged in a series of acquisitions, of which House Advantage is the latest. These include:

  • August 2021: L&W acquired online game developer Lightning Box. A year into the relationship, Lightning Box has thrived, in no small part thanks to the inclusion of its games in L&W’s OpenGaming aggregation platform.
  • November 2021: L&W acquired Authentic Gaming. With this premium live casino gaming solutions provider on board, L&W is poised to compete with market leader Evolution in this growing segment of US online gaming.
  • May 2022: L&W acquired game supplier and “dynamic content creation platform provider” Playzido, whose Remote Gaming Server (RGS) platform is regarded as one of the industry’s best for custom game development.

What’s L&W’s Plan for House Advantage?

That trio of acquisitions ought to help L&W to establish itself as one of the industry’s leading cross-platform game developers. At the conclusion of the company’s OpenBet sale, Wilson described his vision for L&W as building “great games that define the future of gaming.”

The House Advantage acquisition expands the company’s capabilities in a new direction. For casinos simply serving L&W content through OpenGaming, not much will change. However, Halo should be a boon for smaller online casinos looking to use the full-package white-label solutions L&W provides, as it adds a new dimension to their marketing options.

Wilson says:

With HALo, we gain a powerful omnichannel player loyalty solution that complements our current product family and enables us to deliver a truly differentiated offering. Further, House Advantage adds stable, high-margin recurring revenue streams with significant growth potential to bolster cash flows for the benefit of all stakeholders.

About the Author

Emile Avanessian

Emile is a one-time banker turned freelance writer. He previously worked in equity research and as a member of the Financial Sponsors Group with Goldman Sachs, where he worked on numerous casino- and gaming-related projects. His written work has focused largely on sports (NBA basketball and European soccer) and sports betting. Emile currently also writes for Squawka and Urban Pitch. His work has also been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Blizzard, Yahoo Sports, SI.com, and ESPN.

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