Ladbrokes owner Entain has launched a “non-binding indicative offer” to purchase the wagering and media divisions of Australian market leader Tabcorp. Local reports in Australia suggest the deal could be worth more than £2 billion if it goes ahead.
Entain recently rebuffed an £8 billion takeover bid from MGM Holdings, its partner in US joint venture BetMGM. MGM Holdings decided against returning with an improved offer, and Entain has continued to pursue its own ambitious acquisition drive.
It recently snapped up Swedish firm Enlabs – a major player in the Baltic region – for around 2.8 billion Swedish Krone (£250 million), and it is now bidding to dominate the Australian market. Ladbrokes is already popular Down Under, but Tabcorp is the number one brand.
“Whilst discussions are at an early stage, any transaction would be in-line with Entain’s current M&A strategy of expanding across regulated international markets,” said Entain in a media release this week. “As such, this would present an opportunity to acquire an attractive business which, if combined with Entain’s existing Australian business, would create a leading, integrated multi-channel and multi-brand wagering company.”
Tabcorp confirmed in a separate statement that it had received “a number of unsolicited approaches and proposals" about its wagering and media business. “The proposals were expressed to be confidential, indicative, non-binding and subject to numerous conditions including due diligence, financing and various regulatory approvals,” Tabcorp said, while it added that there was no certainty a deal would occur.
New York-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which recently lost out to Caesars Entertainment when bidding for William Hill, has submitted a rival bid. Blackstone is also thought to have mounted a bid.
The number of British consumers betting at illegal sites has doubled in the last three years, according to a new report from PwC. It said that this is a “meaningful issue” for the industry, as unregulated websites threaten player protection, tax collection, and the fight against money laundering and match fixing.
The report was commissioned by the Betting and Gaming Council, whose members include Bet365, Entain, William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment, 888, Unibet, Betfred, Betway and various others. It comes as the UK government has launched a review into the Gambling Act. The BGC urged the government to factor the report into its deliberations and remain vigilant against the “dangers of complacency”.
“This new report by PwC is an impressive and comprehensive piece of work which demonstrates how the unsafe, unregulated black market is a growing threat to British punters,” said BGC chief executive Michael Dugher. “These illicit sites have none of the regulated sector’s consumer protections in place, such as strict ID and age verification checks, safer gambling messages and the ability to set deposit limits.”
The PwC report states: “Based on our survey, the proportion of UK online gamblers using an unlicensed operator has increased from 2.2% to 4.5% in the last 1-2 years. This equates to an increase from c210,000 players in 2018-19 to c460,000 in 2020. This corresponds to a doubling of stakes with unlicensed online operators from £1.4bn to £2.8bn.”
William Hill chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson said: “Our view of the gambling black market is it’s a growing problem that we must confront. Everyone who gambles in Britain deserves protection from illegal operators. We must do all that we can to make sure that remains the case.”
Flutter Entertainment has appointed Greg McCaw to the newly created role of group director of inclusion and diversity. He will be tasked with implementing a new inclusion and diversikty strategy, and identify training and development opportunities for staff.
Chief people officer Caroline Ross said: “He brings a wealth of experience, which the wider group will benefit from as we continue to shape our inclusion and diversity strategy. Our goal is for all colleagues to feel a shared sense of ownership in our business.
“We want to build on our foundations to be a truly inclusive place to work, one where difference is celebrated and valued, because it is only when we all understand the role we play that will we really shift the dial. I’m really excited about what we can achieve together.”
McCaw worked as senior HR business partner for the UK & Ireland at New Look before moving to Sky Betting & Gaming Group – now owned by Flutter. “Stepping into this newly created role is beyond doubt one of the most exciting opportunities I have ever embarked on,” he said. “Already I’ve seen a willingness and commitment to developing a strong strategy for inclusion and diversity at all levels within this organisation, especially from senior leaders, where it can make a real impact.”