After a 2018 Supreme Court ruling struck down a federal ban on sports gambling in the U.S., Kyle Scott Laskowski and Jason Ziernicki wagered that the newly sanctioned form of gambling would surge.
To capitalize, Laskowski and Ziernicki combined their companies — CB Sports and Warwick Gaming, respectively — to form the media and sports betting firm CBWG Media Group in February 2020.
The combined entity owned and operated several popular websites — including CrossingBroad.com, PASportsbooks.com and BetNewJersey.com — through which it published content on professional and college sports, sports gaming and sports betting. Its first move as a new company was to acquire the popular New York sports and gambling site EliteSportsNY.com, which averaged more than 375,000 monthly readers.
The bet paid off.
While both partners ran their companies as lifestyle businesses — whereby they set up company operations to prioritize their preferred lifestyle — the legal change allowed them to scale and realize the “massive sports gambling opportunity in the U.S.,” Laskowski said. In the following 10 months, CBWG grew to $5 million annual revenue from subscriptions, digital advertising and partnerships, Laskowski said.
Its websites welcomed hundreds of thousands of readers across the U.S. It also became the largest independently owned U.S. sports betting affiliate marketing network, serving betting platforms’ ads to gamblers in states with legal sports gambling operations.
CBWG capitalized on new sports gambling rules
The company quickly began attracting interest from buyers hoping to tap the burgeoning sports gambling market in the U.S. In late 2020, just 10 months after they joined forces, Ziernicki and Laskowski were approached by London-based XLMedia with an offer to acquire CBWG for $25 million. That included $3.5 million in XLMedia stock and $9.5 million in a 3-year earn out, a contract provision that ties part of the payout to the business’s future performance.
Since the 2018 court ruling, the legal sports betting industry has taken off. In 2020, Americans wagered about $21.5 billion with commercial sportsbooks, according to the American Gaming Association. That figure more than doubled in 2021 to a record $57.22 billion.
“We received several offers and had a few negotiations over two years,” Laskowski told TGA, noting that CB Sports first drew interest from buyers before it combined with Warwick Gaming. “Sale price, post-sale control and ability to continue growing the business were the main factors in selling.”
XLMedia is a publicly traded digital publishing group that owns more than 2,000 websites in a variety of industries, including gambling, personal finance and sports. Its websites include moneyunder30.com, freebets.com, 101greatgoals.com and others.
Both Laskowski and Ziernicki now work for XLMedia, and plan to eventually branch out into media investments and consulting, Laskowski told They Got Acquired.