William Hill goes all in on PokerStars

William Hill, Britain’s biggest bookmaker, is in talks with Canada’s Amaya, owner of PokerStars – the world’s largest online poker business – about a £5bn “merger of equals”. The new company would be headquartered in London, with Amaya’s CEO, Rafi Ashkenazi, taking the top job.

The deal adds to “the feeding frenzy among bookies”, say Peter Evans and Daniel Dunkley in The Times, driven by “rising taxes and a crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals”. Mergers include Paddy Power and Betfair, Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, and GVC and Bwin.party.

“The new company would have 60% of its revenues from online betting, and 40% in ‘land-based’ business,” says Murad Ahmed in the FT, making it “well diversified across different betting areas”, and bringing cost savings of more than £100m.

Still, the deal is risky, says Nils Pratley in The Guardian. PokerStars faces a lawsuit in the US state of Kentucky that comes with a potentially huge fine. And the combined firm would be too exposed to markets where gambling is either “banned or the rules are so unclear that your local operation can be legislated out of existence”.

Overall,”both these companies have bad hands, says James Moore in The Independent. “The best bet for their shareholders? Fold.”

Merryn

Claim 12 issues of MoneyWeek (plus much more) for just £12!

Let MoneyWeek show you how to profit, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Start your no-obligation trial today and get up to speed on:

  • The latest shifts in the economy…
  • The ongoing Brexit negotiations…
  • The new tax rules…
  • Trump’s protectionist policies…

Plus lots more.

We’ll show you what it all means for your money.

Plus, the moment you begin your trial, we’ll rush you over THREE free investment reports:

‘How to escape the most hated tax in Britain’: Inheritance tax hits many unsuspecting families. Our report tells how to pass on up to £2m of your money to your family without the taxman getting a look in.

‘How to profit from a Trump presidency’: The election of Donald Trump was a watershed moment for the US economy. This report details the sectors our analysts think will boom from Trump’s premiership, and gives specific investments you can buy to profit.

‘Best shares to watch in 2017’: Includes the transcript from our roundtable panel of investment professionals – and 12 tips they’re currently tipping. The report also analyses key assets, including property, oil and the countries whose stock markets currently offer the most value.