Paddy Power in talks on US merger

Bookmarker confirms talks with fantasy sport firm FanDuel as court opens US market

Paddy Power Betfair has confirmed it is in talks to merge its US business with fantasy sports firm FanDuel. Photograph: PA

Paddy Power Betfair has confirmed it is in talks to merge its US business with fantasy sports firm FanDuel. Photograph: PA

 

Paddy Power Betfair is considering merging its US business with fantasy sports company FanDuel to target the US sports betting market, the Irish bookmaker said on Wednesday.

A US supreme court ruling on Monday paved the way for states to legalise sports gambling after it struck down a 1992 federal law that had barred gambling in most places.

The bookmaker said talks with FanDuel are ongoing and there was no certainty as to whether an agreement would be reached.

Paddy Power shares, which rose sharply after the court ruling, were up 6.8 per cent in Dublin.

Firms such as Paddy Power Betfair are looking for growth opportunities to offset the increasing cost of regulation in established markets including Ireland, Britain and Australia.

New Jersey casino

Paddy Power Betfair runs the leading US horse racing television and betting network and has an online casino business in New Jersey which contributed $140 million (€119m) or around 6 per cent of its revenue last year.

It entered the US fantasy sports market last year with a $48 million acquisition of early-stage operator Draft.

FanDuel was part of merger discussions last year with rival DraftKings but that plan was scrapped after a legal challenge by the US Federal Trade Commission over fears that the combined company would control more than 90 percent of the US market for paid daily fantasy sports contests.

Leading fantasy sports companies have faced regulatory challenges in several states and scrutiny by officials who question whether paid daily games amount to gambling.

FanDuel was valued at more than $1 billion before the crackdown began. Legal Sports Report, which first reported that Paddy Power Betfair was close to completing the deal, said it appeared likely to be below that valuation.

Analysts at Davy Stockbrokers said the deal would hand Paddy Power Betfair an well recognised US brand as well as an award-winning technology platform that can be converted to offer real money betting and a database of more than six million US customers.

“For both sides, a deal would make a huge amount of sense strategically and, on the face of it, an amalgamated business would represent a powerful combination in the US sports betting market,” Davy analysts wrote in a note. – Reuters