Old Autotote says adios to racing

Feb 23, 2010 4:27 AM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier |

Until the company under Chairman and CEO Lorne Weil decided to acquire a lottery instant ticket company in Atlanta a few years ago, Autotote Inc., was the dominant provider of wagering machines and systems to the North American horse racing industry.

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But, "You’ve got to follow the money," said infamous bank robber Specs O’Keefe. And Weil realized that the money was in instant lottery tickets.

So Weil changed the company’s name from Autotote to Scientific Games Corporation – trading on NASDAQ as SGMS – and retired from active leadership of the company.

Last week, current management of SGMS announced it was exiting the horse racing business by selling the operation to Sportech, a United Kingdom-based gaming company for approximately $83 million in cash and stock.

Under the sales agreement, Sportech will pay Scientific Games $33 million in cash and $32 million in shares upon taking over the operation. A deferred payment of $10 million is due on Sept. 30, 2013 while another $8 million will be paid if the operation meets certain performance targets.

Brooks Pierce, who has headed the racing division for SGMS, reportedly will continue with the North American operation. He is a second generation "tote" executive. His father, the late Jim Pierce, was Autotote’s CEO during the 1970’s.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier