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Poker Site to Place Big Bet on Rival

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

Poker Site to Place Big Bet on Rival

THE world�s largest internet poker company, Party Gaming, is in talks to acquire Gamebookers, the online sports-betting company, for about �50m.A deal would be the first acquisition for Party Gaming since it floated a year ago. An announcement could be made in the next two or three weeks.

Gamebookers, founded in 1998, is currently owned by Trident Gaming, an Isle of Man-based firm which also controls Betbug, a person-to- person betting site. It bought Gamebookers in July 2005.

Last week, Party Gaming raised a $500m (�270m) debt facility to help it finance a series of acquisitions. It is known to be eyeing a number of potential deals, of which Gamebookers is likely to be the first.

While this debut deal is relatively small �for Party Gaming, which has a market value of �4.6 billion, it will allow the company to diversify its business away from America, which accounts for more than three-quarters of its turnover. Gamebookers does not take bets from American customers.

Internet poker remains a legal grey area in the US. Conservative politicians there are working hard to try and ban online gaming, including poker. Only sports betting is explicitly deemed illegal.

As well as poker, Party Gaming already offers bingo, backgammon and casino games. Moving into sports betting is the logical next step.

Gamebookers is licensed in Antigua, but also has a UK bookmakers� permit. Party Gaming is regulated by Gibraltar.

  • The owners of, a Swedish gambling site that also offers poker and casino games, have hired advisers to explore strategic options. The business, said to be worth about �50m, could attract interest from the likes of Party Gaming and 888 Holdings.
  • original story can be found at The Times Online

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