Entain Group, the recently rebranded name for GVC Holdings, has revealed that it received a takeover offer from US casino operator MGM Resorts International (MGMRI).
News of the offer was first reported by the Wall Street Journal before being confirmed by Entain itself who claimed that MGM Resorts’ $11 billion (Around £8.2 billion) offer for the organisation’s betting shops and gambling websites was “too low” and follows a recently rejected offer of $10 billion (Around £7.3 billion).
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Entain confirmed the offer and said that MGMRI’s offer “significantly undervalues the Company and its prospects” and that Entain’s board has asked MGMRI to provide more information “in respect of the strategic rationale for a combination of the two companies.”
As reported by the BBC, MGM Resorts International, which owns the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, has until the beginning of February to decide whether to make a formal bid for Entain or to leave the offer.
Following news of the offer, investors began betting on Entain and have since pushed the company’s share price up by 25% to £14.30 which, at the time of writing, is more than MGM Resorts International’s offer of £13.83 a share.
Entain, which was previously known as GVC Holdings, claims to be one of the world’s “largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in the online and retail sector” and owns several leading gambling brands. They include Ladbrokes, Bwin, Coral, Gala Bingo, Foxy Bingo, Betboo, Eurobet, SportingBet, and PartyPoker, among others.
If an agreement is reached between the two firms, it will mark the second acquisition of a UK gambling brand by a US casino operator. Back in September, MGM Resorts International rival Caesars Entertainment agreed to purchase UK gambling brand William Hill, a deal which is expected to complete in Spring 2021.
As the US gambling market makes bids on UK gambling brands, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has been announced as the new headline sponsor of ITV Racing starting January 1st, 2021.
As reported by SBC News, the agreement was negotiated by MediaCom, and the deal for Paddy Power as the headline sponsor reportedly covers television and radio broadcasts, catch-up, social media, and podcasts too.
The deal will also see fellow Flutter Entertainment brands feature in the ITV Racing App for mobiles while Betfair will sponsor ITV Racing’s Saturday morning The Opening Show programme.
Mark Trinder, the Director of Commercial Sales and Partnerships at ITV, told SBC News: “ITV Racing has become the bedrock of our ITV Sports programming calendar. The weekly output and excellent expert presentation has taken racing to new levels in terms of profile and audiences. I welcome Flutter Entertainment to the fold as our new broadcast sponsor.”
Michaelle Spillane, the Marketing Director for Paddy Power, added: “ITV Racing has been brilliant for the sport for the last four years and we viewed it as a natural synergy to become headline sponsor for the BAFTA Award-winning show.
“We’re looking forward to working with the immensely-talented ITV team for at least the next two years, and it’s great to be an integral part of a presentation that produces brilliant quality sporting coverage for our customers week in week out.”
Betfair Marketing Director Stephen Mault also added: “Just like Betfair, The Opening Show is first port of call for all horse racing fans on a Saturday morning and for all the big festivals, so we are delighted to support a show that is such a significant launching pad for the top quality racing coverage ITV produces.
“Oli Bell, with his team, collaborate well, often in difficult conditions and display great agility. They also have tenacious to be the best. All qualities which Betfair cherish and adhere to for the benefit of our customers. We are really looking forward to working with them.”
The news of Paddy Power as the headline sponsor for ITV Racing comes as Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Boris Johnson both announced national lockdowns for Scotland and England as part of a move to limit the spread of Coronavirus.
Announcing a third lockdown for England yesterday (January 4), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We now have a new variant of the virus, and it has been both frustrating and alarming to see the speed with which it is spreading.
“In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the Government is once again instructing you to stay at home. You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law.”
Under the rules, all non-essential retail including betting shops and casinos, some of which were still open under tier restrictions, will be forced to close until at least February, though its rumoured the lockdowns may last longer than this.
While many businesses and industries will be forced to close at a loss, elite sports such as racing and the Premier League has been allowed to continue under strict anti-Covid measures and testing protocols.
Responding to the Government’s decision to allow elite sports to continue, the Premier League stated it was confident in its testing protocols and confirmed it has no plans to pause the season this year.
Racing, meanwhile, will continue behind closed doors and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has shared its confidence in its ability to maintain its anti-Covid measures. It said yesterday:
“Following this evening’s broadcast, we can confirm that racing will continue behind closed doors during the upcoming national lockdown. Attendance will be limited to those essential to the staging of fixtures and strict adherence to British racing’s COVID-19 protocols will continue to be required for all who attend.”
Although racing will be allowed to continue under the new lockdown, it’s been estimated by the Racing Post that the closure of betting shops will cost the racing industry around £12.5 million per month.