Stars Group Held Secret Merger Talks With PaddyPowerBetfair4 months ago
It has been revealed that the Stars Group, parent company of PokerStars, were in secret talks late last year to merge with Irish bookmakers PaddyPowerBetfair, a deal that would have created “a gambling giant worth £8.4bn” according to The Sunday Times newspaper.
The Stars group – formerly named Amaya Inc. – took over Sky Betting and Gaming last year, a $4.3billion deal that gave them a strong foothold in the UK betting and gaming markets. They also bought out Australian-based sportsbook BetEasy, and recent rumours that Sky Poker will close by the end of this year have surfaced.
Who are PaddyPowerBetfair?
PaddyPower was an Irish bookmaking company founded in 1988 in Dublin, which grew to operate a chain of bookmaking shops across Ireland and the UK, as well as a telephone betting service and latterly online betting.
They merged with BetFair - an online gambling company which operated the world's largest online betting exchange - back in 2015, giving them access to UK, Australian and US markets through their various arms, including Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) firm FanDuel.
UK government crackdown
The merged company was recently fined £2.2million ($2.9million) for failing to protect customers who had gambling problems, with their anti-money laundering checks also heavily criticised.
Stars Group exploiting vulnerability?
This factor, a UK Government crackdown on problem gambling, has made the UK market leaders vulnerable to takeover – a fact that seems not to have escaped the attention of the Canadian giants.
Other UK betting companies – such as Ladbrokes – are also under serious pressure. William Hill were recently singled out by analysts at Canaccord Genuity as being ‘ripe for consolidation’.
Plans to close hundreds of high street stores, as well as serious and ongoing UK Gambling Commission investigations involving some operators means that there may be rich pickings for Stars Group in the near future.
The secret discussions surrounding the PaddyPowerBetfair group are apparently “no longer ongoing”, perhaps due to monopoly and competition rules problems according to sources.
Neither StarsGroup nor PaddyPowerBetfair would confirm or deny the rumoured talks.
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