According to reports, the online bookmakers Paddy Power PLC and Betfair have entered into a merger, creating a formidable billion-dollar company in what is becoming an even more competitive industry.
The merger brings together two of the more recognizable and profitable players in the game. It is estimated that Paddy Power and Betfair have cornered about £1.1 billion of the global online bookmaking industry and the combined company would be worth £5.8 billion. These numbers would make the new Paddy Power/Betfair combination one of the largest online gaming companies in the industry.
The CEO of Betfair, Breon Corcoran, was COO at Paddy Power three years ago before taking the helm of Betfair. As part of the new merger, Corcoran and Betfair CEO Alex Gersh will maintain their positions, while Paddy Power Chairman Gary McGann will oversee the Board of Directors.
This is but the latest in a litany of mergers and acquisitions that have rocked the online gaming and poker industries. In July, bookmakers Ladbrokes and Coral entered into a merger agreement, with the resulting company becoming the largest bookmaker in the United Kingdom. That combined company would be worth approximately £2.3 billion, but would also see hundreds of physical bookmaking shops shut down in the UK.
bwin.party, once the largest gaming entity in the industry, has been in negotiations for the past year regarding its future. In mid-2014, there were discussions with another online company, William Hill, which failed to result in any agreement. At the time, bwin.party officials stated they were actively looking for a merger with another company or an outright buyout.
This year saw several suitors step up for bwin.party. First it was GVC Holdings which, partnering with Amaya Gaming, offered a massive £900 million bid for bwin.party in discussions that had been ongoing since the beginning of the year. Ten days after that, bwin.party announced that it had entered into a deal with 888 Holdings, the parent company of 888 Poker, for less than what was offered by GVC and Amaya.
While that thunderbolt was still warm, GVC and Amaya decided they didn’t want to let go of bwin.party that easily. Another ten days later, GVC and Amaya upped their bid for bwin.party to over £1 billion. As of today, bwin.party appears to be still mulling things over.
More known for their bookmaking prowess, Paddy Power and Betfair have also had their hands in the online casino gaming and poker industries. For several years, Paddy Power has operated its own online poker site, Paddy Power Poker, and has served as sponsor of the Irish Poker Open.
Betfair operates many of the legal online horse racing betting sites in the United States, sponsors several major horse races and tracks across the country, and is part of the New Jersey online casino gaming industry. What effect the merger between Paddy Power and Betfair will have on the US market isn’t currently known.
The announcement of the merger has helped the stocks of both companies. Paddy Power’s stock on the London Stock Exchange closed at 78.5 pence on Tuesday afternoon. After the announcement of the merger, it peaked at 94.5 pence before closing the day’s trading at 93.12, nearly a 15% increase. Betfair also saw a similar leap, closing at 2,603 pence on Tuesday before rocketing up to 3,200 pence on Wednesday afternoon and closing at 3,134 pence, a 20% increase.