Aristocrat has acquired popular social gaming company Big Fish Games for A$1.3billion. The deal doubles the size of Aristocrat’s fast-growing digital arm and makes it the second-largest social casino gaming business in the world by revenue.

Big Fish, a wholly owned subsidiary of racetrack and casino owner Churchill Downs Incorporated, is a global publisher of free-to-play games that operates across three key business lines that are focused on specific game segments, including social casino, social gaming and premium paid games. Its largest social casino application, Big Fish Casino, remains a top ranking social casino application globally.

Aristocrat chief executive Trevor Croker said the acquisition was a major expansion of the company’s social gaming footprint.

“The strategic and financial benefits from the acquisition are highly compelling,” Mr Croker said.  “The acquisition of Big Fish will immediately provide scale across our entire digital platform.”

While the manufacture of poker machines and other electronic gaming machine technology remain Aristocrat’s core business, the company has notably upped its bet on the online social gaming market this year.

In August, the company purchased Israeli gaming company Plarium, which makes the popular Vikings: War of Clans game, for $635 million.

Aristocrat now has about 5800 employees across the world, with the 700 Big Fish staff based in Seattle and Oakland on the US west coast. Its Fairway Solitaire and Gummy Drop! games are ranked the world’s sixth and 10th most popular casual and card games.

The Big Fish deal means Aristocrat will now derive about 65 percent of its revenue from recurring sources, Mr Croker said, with the company making a big push in recent years to diversify away from relying on the sale of poker machines to more digital revenue and income from leased games.

Sources: AGB/SMH/AFR