Consider bwin.party to be like that girl in high school who everybody talks about: lots of speculation, and who knows how much validity. Among the possible suitors rumored to be bedding bwin are gambling conglomerates William Hill and Amaya Gaming, and the gossip keeps on coming.
In the latest round of speculation, it seems that bwin.party may still be on the market, and that despite chatter to the contrary last week, multiple firms are still interested in taking over the Internet gambling giant that operates both partypoker and bwin’s successful online sports betting operation.
Among those suitors could be Amaya Gaming, the Canadian gambling company that owns PokerStars and Full Tilt, as well as British bookmaker William Hill, which was recently rebuffed in an attempt to take over 888 Holdings, another major online poker and gambling group.
Stock Plunged Friday After Reports That Talks Were Ended
That’s a stark change from late last week, when speculation that talks to buy bwin.party were all but over. That news sent the company’s stock price down about 20 percent in Friday trading, prompting bwin.party to claim that the company would be “obliged to update the market” if talks really were over, and that they had no need to make such a statement yet.
But bwin.party shares recovered a bit on Tuesday, as rumors once again suggested that two big names were in the running to purchase bwin.party, both of whom would make likely suitors for the online gambling giant.
Amaya, William Hill Have Reasons to Buy
First, there’s Amaya, which has never shied away from laying out lots of money to improve its position in the Internet gambling industry.
The Canadian company famously paid $4.9 billion to take control of the Rational Group, the parent company of both PokerStars and Full Tilt, last summer. They would almost certainly be interested in bwin.party for the company’s extensive sports betting services, the sector of online gambling that Amaya has yet to extensively compete in.
Taking over partypoker would also place yet another of the largest online poker brands in the world under their control.
On the other hand, William Hill has already established itself as one of the world’s leading names in bookmaking. However, the company hasn’t been quite as dominant in the online gambling world (especially outside of sports betting), something that acquiring bwin.party would immediately remedy.
The William Hill rumors also make sense for a second reason. The company is coming off a failed bid to take over 888 Holdings, the online gambling consortium best known for operating 888poker. William Hill was willing to pay a premium to take control of 888, but one of the founders of 888 (rumored to be the Shaked family) wanted about £3 ($4.61) per share, far beyond the £2 ($3.07) per share that William Hill was offering.
“Due to a significant difference of opinion on value with a key stakeholder, it has not been possible to reach agreement on the terms of a possible offer and the board of the company has agreed with William Hill to terminate discussion,” 888 said in a statement.
While there’s no telling how serious any of these talks are, any resulting acquisition of bwin.party would be likely to cause a major shakeup in the online poker industry.
If Amaya were to buy the company, they’d have the option of keeping partypoker as a third major brand, or folding players there into one their existing poker products, providing a major influx of new players to PokerStars or Full Tilt.
Meanwhile, William Hill’s reach and brand recognition could easily draw new players into partypoker were they to take control of the poker room, which could be enough to propel the former industry leader into a clear #2 worldwide behind PokerStars.