Date
18 August 2017
British online gambling giant 888 Holdings Ltd. has ended acquisition talks with bookmaker William Hill over price. Photo: WSJ
British online gambling giant 888 Holdings Ltd. has ended acquisition talks with bookmaker William Hill over price. Photo: WSJ

Europe shakes up global online gambling industry

Europe has brought in new regulations that are roiling the US$37 billion global online gambling industry.

A number of European governments are overhauling their online gambling regulations, a move that will increase costs.

In Britain, the government is requiring operators to get licenses this year and will start taxing online companies’ British revenue.

Meanwhile, a European Union “digital tax,” which went into effect Jan. 1, is threatening revenue across much of Europe.

Smaller European competitors, which have spent heavily on development and marketing and now face higher regulatory costs and taxes, will bt the hardest hit, the report said.

However, the new rules could also clear up legal ambiguity around the industry, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Most gambling operations are clustered offshore in low-tax regimes such as the Isle of Man, Gibraltar and Malta.

Investors and analysts have been anticipating a bout of deal-making for months.

It said talks broke down after a key shareholder couldn’t agree on price.

A number of suitors have been circling Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc., a London-listed, online gambling outfit.

Last year, the company said it was talking with various parties “regarding a variety of potential business combinations”.

Last week, Bwin shares fell sharply as investors and analysts appeared to give up hope of a deal. But according to people familiar with the matter, another of the industry’s biggest competitors, Amaya Gaming Group Inc., is still in talks regarding the acquisition of the company or parts of it.

Amaya was a little-known gambling equipment supplier in Canada until it made a splash last year, when it agreed to buy the parent company of PokerStars — the world’s biggest online poker operator — for US$4.9 billion.

Meanwhile, Britain’s 888 Holdings Ltd. , one of the sector’s biggest competitors, said that it had ended talks over a proposed £720 million (US$1.1 billion) takeover by British bookmaker William Hill Plc. over price.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

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