Shareholders of The Stars Group have agreed to a merger with Flutter Entertainment that will create an $11 billion global gambling conglomerate. The Toronto-based firm reported this week that 99.99% of shareholders agreed to the deal. It will see Flutter Entertainment take over The Stars Group, bringing Paddy Power, Betfair, FanDuel, Sportsbet, Sky Bet, Fox Bet, Bet Stars, Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker all under the same umbrella. Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson will lead the enlarged group, supported by a new corporate leadership team featuring executives from both companies. Last week the UK competition watchdog approved the deal in a major milestone. It now just needs watchdogs in Australia and Pennsylvania to give it the green light. However, the UK was the biggest concern, due to the reach of Paddy Power, Betfair and Sky Bet, so the other watchdogs are likely to allow the deal.
GambleAware has reported that annual donations have exceeded the charity’s minimum target of £10 million for the first time. Bookmakers gave £10.05 million to the problem gambling support charity in the 12 months to March 31. Ladbrokes owner GVC led the way with £1.46 million in donations, followed by William Hill and Flutter, which each gave £1 million. Bet365 stumped up almost £900,000. GambleAware also received £1.5 million for regulatory settlements. “For the tenth year in a row, we have seen an increase in donations, which means for the first time, we have been able to meet our minimum target of £10m,” said GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches. “Commissioning a coherent, coordinated and efficient system of prevention and treatment requires the strategic distribution of sufficient funding, guided by appropriate expertise underpinned by effective partnership working. Our mission is to keep people safe from gambling harm and these donations are vital to making sure we are able to deliver on that mission.
British Ministers have written to William Hill, GVC, Bet365, Sky Bet and Flutter to voice concerns that the coronavirus lockdown could increase online problem gambling. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport demanded regular updates on how they are tackling problem gambling during the crisis. There is a fear that a lack of sport will push more bettors towards online casinos, where problem gambling is a lot more rife. “Whilst overall gambling participation has fallen in recent weeks and the industry has made notable contributions to support the national response, we must take proactive steps now, and keep these measures under review,” said culture minister Nigel Huddleston. “I expect patterns of play to be closely monitored so we can move quickly if there is any evidence of problem gambling increasing. I also want more to be done to promote responsible gambling during the pandemic.”
Betfred is accused of reneging on a promise to honour outstanding customer balances at MoPlay after buying the firm’s customer list from a liquidator in Gibraltar last month. MoPlay ceased trading in February after parent company Addison Global fell into liquidation. It then released a statement in March saying it had been “able to secure an arrangement whereby another operator will honour your cash balance, so that you can withdraw your funds and continue to play”. MoPlay advised customers that Betfred would be in touch to help set up an account and transfer their balances over. The Guardian reported that 180,000 MoPlay accounts migrated to Betfred, but punters are now complaining that their balances have not shifted. “We’ve received a fair number of complaints,” Brian Chappell of Justice4Punters said. Betfred hit back by saying its actions to date are 100% in accordance with the terms of the contract with the liquidator.
888 has bolstered its virtual sports offering by teaming up with the Golden Race to launch virtual football, horse racing, dog racing, Speedway and motorbikes. The content aims to deliver “true to life” recreations of punters’ favourite sports, which are mainly postponed right now due to the coronavirus lockdown. RNGs are said to ensure fairness transparency and randomness. “We are certain that their clients will greatly enjoy our portfolio of highly realistic virtual sports and engaging number games, especially at this moment when they are looking for new products to satisfy the lack of sports events,” said Golden Race founder and chief executive Martin Wachter.