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Sportingbet Confesses Talks With Other Parties; Unibet not Confirmed

18 November 2010 by Devon Chappell

The infamous online sportsbook, Sportingbet, has revealed that talks are indeed being had with not just one, but two “different parties” regarding a potential merger. Following rumors that Sportingbet was making out with rival sportsbook, Unibet (who says opposites don’t attract?), the former US-facing betting operator confessed it has been courting more than one party.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with dating more than one company at at a time in the world of business, the iGaming industry at large is dying to know – as are Sportingbet shareholders – what is likely to become of the popular sportsbook. Well, whatever that is, Sportingbet isn’t letting on. The plus side is that it’s all good.

Following a statement made by Sportingbet that the company “has had and will continue to have discussion with different parties in relation to a variety of potential opportunities”, Sportingbet shares rose 5%. With business doing quite well and higher revenue levels (27% higher to be exact) largely due to increased popularity of live betting (which accounts for 61% of its core business), Sportingbet is doing much better than some analysts predicted.

A $23 million settlement with the US Department of Justice just two months ago no doubt put a damper on Sportingbet’s pre-tax profits, which currently sit at £6.9 million (down from £22.3). However, this amount includes the “buyout” made with the USDOJ, which – not surprisingly – was threatening legal action based on the premise that Sportingbet was accepting illegal bets from U.S. citizens between 1998 and 2006.

While Sportingbet could pleade “define illegal”, the company decided to play it safe and avoid prosecution, not to mention never being able to step foot on American soil. In other words, the USDOJ took their money, and now Sportingbet is looking to join forces with its competition. Whether that amounts to a merger or strategic partnership won’t likely be known until early 2011.

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