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Consolidation among online gaming firms Inevitable
2/2/10 - Last week's confirmation that Party Gaming and Bwin Interactive are talking about partnering has set off a round of media reportage on the old topic of industry consolidation.
Reuters reports that consolidation among online gaming firms is set to spark into life in 2010 if the Party-Bwin deal goes goes through; with such a possibility seen as the potential catalyst for a wave of takeover activity. Several experts told the news agency that a major partnership would have a domino effect in the industry; "The first deal gets everybody else to run," said one observer. "You don't want to be the last one left without a partner."
That could trigger a series of deals involving companies like 888, Sportingbet and Playtech, he added.
Traditional betting firms like Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power may also look to make acquisitions to boost their online presence.
Numis analyst Wyn Ellis told Reuters that M&A activity across the sector is "inevitable."
"We believe that consolidation talks are widespread across the online gaming sector and that most companies could be considered to be both potential industry consolidators and takeover targets," he said.
Party and bwin have held early stage talks about a combination which would pair Party's strength in online gaming with bwin's expertise in sports betting.
Analysts say the logic behind the deal is compelling.
"Such a deal would bring Party the critical mass in sports book that it lacks, while for bwin, Party's casino and poker products would provide a significant boost to its presence in these markets," said KBC Peel Hunt analyst Nick Batram.
Daniel Stewart analyst James Hollins described the combination as "pretty epic" in discussing it with Reuters reporters.
"The combination would be very strategically strong. It's a pretty neat fit. Party Gaming is a very good poker brand. To combine that liquidity with bwin's network would be pretty impressive," he said.
Bwin shares have risen by over 300 percent since the beginning of 2009, boosted by ongoing merger speculation, a more favorable regulatory environment and the wider rally in Austrian shares, giving it a market value of $2.2 billion.
That compares with PartyGaming's $1.8 billion valuation, suggesting bwin would be the senior partner in a merger.
"The fact that bwin has edged ahead in terms of market cap may mean that the deal could happen earlier rather than later," said Cheuvreux analyst Alfred Reisenberger.
Hopes of industry consolidation and optimism over growth prospects are reflected in the companies' valuations.
Bwin is trading at around 24.5 times forecast 2009 earnings, compared with a price-earnings ratio for the Wiener Bourse Index of 21.7. Party Gaming is trading at 19.9 times forecast 2009 earnings, compared with a price-earnings ratio of 18.5 for the FTSE All Share Index.
Analysts say a number of factors have combined to make sector consolidation more likely over the next twelve months.
Most significant has been PartyGaming's agreement with U.S. authorities which will protect it from being prosecuted over its past activities there.
Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Carter told Reuters the settlement had given the online gaming sector "significantly more certainty and confidence and has enabled the capital markets to better understand the potential exposure of other online gaming companies that operated in the U.S."
Other online gaming companies which previously had U.S.-facing activities such as 888 and Sportingbet are also in talks with U.S. authorities with a view to reaching settlements.
The easing of those fears and greater clarity over the way the industry is regulated have led to banks being more comfortable with the sector and, therefore, more willing to provide credit for deals.
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Gambling News :
Wanajump Launches -
#Wanajump Spanish online and land gambling operator Grupo R. Franco appears to be emulating the William Hill group, announcing this week that it is to begin a start-up accelerator program for innovative entrepreneurs, which it has titled Wanajump.
Coral Launches player proposition betting product -
Digital Sports Tech, a business-to-business software provider of sports betting solutions, has signed a deal with UK online and land sports betting operator Coral to provide an innovative player proposition betting product.
Oshi online casino now accepts fiat currencies -
The Oshi online casino, which started just a year ago as a Bitcoin-denominated operation, has described its expanded activity in a statement this week, noting that in addition to Bitcoin it now accepts fiat currencies and has added new game providers to its roster of suppliers.
New Standards for UK Online Gambling -
Online gambling service and technology providers, along with operators and testing agencies will be studying the new gambling software and technical standards proposal published by the UK Gambling Commission following a public consultation.
Pennsylvania Gambling Bill 1887 returned with additions -
The interaction between the Pennsylvanian House and the state Senate has become increasingly like watching a game of ping pong as the two political establishments wrestle with online gambling legalization and court-ordered tax fixes in the dying days of the current political season.
Mybet Earnings Struggle -
The statement this week reveals that Mybet continued to be hampered by negative trends from historic quarters, making its original performance estimate "unrealistic".
Tom Horn Awarded Malta Gaming License -
Online gambling software provider Tom Horn Gaming has been awarded a Malta Gaming Authority license that permits the company to host and manage Malta-based gaming operators.
Calvin Ayre invests in new Antigua Business Center -
Ayre joined with government officials this week in a ground-breaking ceremony for a five-story centre on Antigua which will be home for the venture. The "green" building will be solar powered and provide employee-friendly services like catering, a gym and child care.
Attack of the Zombies Slot -
Online gambling games developer Genesis Gaming has unveiled its latest game, with a theme based on a horror story of the undead, exploiting the current trend....and just in time for Halloween.
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