Paddy Power Betfair vies with William Hill for CrownBet deal

Australian online gambling firm a target for Britain-focused companies seeking diversification

Paddy Power Betfair is already a major player in Australian gambling.

Paddy Power Betfair is already a major player in Australian gambling.

 

Sources have poured cold water on claims that Irish gambling giant Paddy Power Betfair is vying with William Hill for a deal with Australia’s CrownBet.

Reports on Friday said that both Dublin-based Paddy Power Betfair and British rival William Hill, had held talks with Australian on-line player, CrownBet, which is 62 per cent-owned by Crown Resorts.

Paddy Power Betfair said that it did not comment on speculation about mergers and acquisitions.

However, sources played down the reports of the Irish group’s involvement in talks with CrownBet.

Paddy Power Betfair already owns Australia’s leading online gambling business, Sportsbet. The group’s shares rose 3.08 per cent to €98.80 in Dublin and by almost 4 per cent in London following the reports .

They came as William Hill confirmed on Friday that it was in “very preliminary discussions” with CrownBet about a possible combination with its Australian business.

Crown Resorts confirmed in a statement that it was “in discussions concerning its interest in CrownBet” after The Australian newspaper reported it was holding talks about a deal with William Hill.

Businesses such as William Hill, which have large numbers of bookie shops in Britain, are weighing consolidation and looking for opportunities outside their home territory to combat tougher regulations.

The UK government plans to limit wagering on betting machines in British bookie shops, despite warnings from some operators that this could force shop closures and result in job losses.

Paddy Power Betfair chief executive, Breon Corcoran, recently wrote to the British government saying that the maximum wager allowed in betting machines should be cut to £10 sterling from £100.

The company has told staff in its 300-plus British bookie shops that any cut in machine betting will not hit jobs.

Crown Resorts, backed by billionaire James Packer, is Australia’s biggest casino company and, like other gambling companies, faces stiff competition online.

Paddy Power Betfair runs betting shops in Ireland and Britain and on-line gambling businesses in Europe, Australia and the US.

- Additional reporting: Reuters