Following reports last week that UK bookmaker William Hill was looking to buy the CrownBet operation from Crown Resorts, it is now understood that Paddy Power Betfair is also looking to make an offer for the online gaming business.
The rival bookmaker already owns Australia’s leading online gambling business, Sportsbet, and the group’s shares rose 3.08% to €98.80 in Dublin and by almost 4% in London following the reports, according to The Irish Times.
Late last week, Crown Resorts was forced to address media speculation that it is looking to divest its 62% interest in horse racing and sports betting brand CrownBet Pty Ltd, with UK bookmaker William Hill touted by several media outlets as the buyer. William Hill confirmed late last week that it was in “very preliminary discussions” with CrownBet about a possible combination with its Australian business.
In a statement to the Financial Times, the company said: "Following media speculation, William Hill confirms that it is in very preliminary discussions with CrownBet, the 62% owned online wagering business of Crown Resorts, regarding a possible combination of William Hill Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of William Hill, and CrownBet.” However, “there is no certainty that these preliminary discussions will lead to any transaction."
Speculation is growing that UK-focused gambling companies are set to embark on a round of consolidation to offset the threat of stricter regulation and diversify their operations.
Ladbrokes Coral, another UK betting shop operator, held several unsuccessful deal talks with online rival GVC this year and a spate of dealmaking amongst British companies is expected once the government makes a decision on FOBTs next year.