With the biggest online gambling company in the world set to launch this week with the implementation of bwin.party, industry observers continue to anticipate further industry consolidation and mergers.

Betting rivals may join
Last year, Sportingbet made some preliminary moves to acquire Sweden-based Unibet, an online sports betting rival in the European market.

That bid fell through late in 2010, but now some UK financial outlets are reporting that Sportingbet is gearing up for another go.

The London-listed online betting and gaming brand Sportingbet anticipates that a merger with Unibet would be to the tune of £600m, writes Lawrie Holmes at ThisIsMoney.co.uk.

“The firm is thought to have asked broker Daniel Stewart to look at putting together a fresh approach, though the Swedish company is said to be frosty over further talks,” Holmes continues.

Sportingbet settled with U.S. authorities in 2010 over threats of UIGEA persecution — that’s the occasional, seemingly arbitrary prosecution of non-American online gambling companies by U.S. officials over its Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Now, with a clean bill of health in the U.S., the company has embarked on a period of growth and expansion. The company recently announced a deal with First International Bookmakers, Russia’s second largest betting firm, Holmes explains.

Bwin, PartyGaming, and … Ladbrokes?
If successful, the possible merger would only continue a trend of rapid consolidation in the international online gambling industry, with the biggest of these, the PartyGaming/bwin merger, set to be completed this week.

Meanwhile, some other leading online gaming brands are also reported to be seriously considering continual mergers.

Ladbrokes, for example, has long been thought to be considering acquiring 888. And, per a recent article in the UK’s Independent, that may just the beginning.

Somewhat surprisingly, the writer of that article, Toby Green, reports that Ladbrokes may wind up partnering with the new PartyGaming/bwin company, bwin.party.

“Predicting further consolidation in the gaming sector … analyst Ivor Jones said a merger between Ladbrokes and bwin.party ‘is the deal that makes most sense to us’,” Green writes in the Independent article.

“Ladbrokes would achieve a rapid upgrade to its bookmaking capabilities online,” Jones stated in the article, also noting that bwin.party “would be better able to exploit investment opportunities, in the US in particular.”

“It appears that now is the time to discuss deals with Ladbrokes’ management as it is already in talks with various parties,” Jones continued.

Green also talks about rumors that Ladbrokes may tie up with Playtech. Whatever route it winds up going, it seems likely that Ladbrokes will consolidate with another gaming company in the near future.

Affiliate angle
How do all these mergers and consolidations affect affiliates? It’s a bit too early to say — but this week’s launch of bwin.party will be the first step towards letting affiliates know what major mergers mean to existing casino affiliate marketing plans.

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