Could 888/William Hill Deal Create a New UK Betting Powerhouse?

888, Rank, William Hill merger.

Could 888, Rank and William Hill be set to form a betting super power in the UK? (Image: williamhillplc.com)

The UK betting industry could be set for a major shakeup if a deal between 888, Rank and William Hill comes to fruition.

Although a firm offer has yet to be tabled, William Hill confirmed that has been interest in a merger from 888 and Rank.

For those with long memories, this may seem like a case of déjà vu as 888 proposed a similar deal to William Hill back in 2015. After those talks broke down, the online gaming company tried to acquire bwin but lost out to GVC on that occasion.

Not wanting to give up on the idea of merging with a major player in the UK sports betting market, 888 has now linked up with Rank to offer what we assume is an improved early proposal.

Does 888 Have Enough Pulling Power?

As it stands, 888 has grown considerably over the last decade and, today, it ranks as the second largest online poker operator in the industry.

Beyond poker, 888 also has interests in casino, sports betting and bingo, but even with this growth and a partnership with Rank, it’s still markedly smaller than William Hill.

Indeed, even at this early stage, some financially commentators have suggested that the terms of the deal will have to be highly attractive for William Hill if it’s going to merge with smaller entities.

However, both 888 and William Hill have been keen to stress that no offer has been made and, moreover, the mechanics of any deal are still unclear at this point.

“In relation to the proposed transaction, no decision has yet been taken as to whether 888 would be an offeror or offeree company in respect of certain of the steps that may be taken in order to implement the proposed transaction,” read a joint statement.

Mergers are the Way Forward

What is clear, however, is that all three companies can see some value in a merger. Back in 2015 the vibe among many of the UK’s leading sports betting and casino operators was consolidation.

From Betfair and Paddy Power to Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, the industry’s biggest players merged their assets in order to bolster their market positions.

888 and Rank are certainly confident that the way forward is consolidation, but only if it benefits all parties involved.

“The consortium sees significant industrial logic in the combination, through consolidation of their complementary online and land-based operations, delivery of substantial revenue and cost synergies and from the anticipated benefits of economies of scale, which will accrue to all shareholders,” read a statement from 888 and Rank.

While a deal between the three operators is a long way from being agreed, the prospect of another super power in the UK betting world could certainly open up some interesting possibilities in the coming months.

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