William Hill’s season from hell continued this week when the bookmaker dropped its bid to takeover online gaming company Probability.
Probability operates the Lady Luck online bingo and poker brands and acquiring the Gibraltar-basedcompany would have allowed William Hill to better compete against rival Ladbrokes in the rapidly growing online gaming market.
Industry analysts and investors never though much of the deal and stock prices for both William Hill and reflected that ambivalence. William Hill stock saw small gains, while Probability shares took a 16 percent hit. Company executives didn’t give a reason the pullout, but some industry insiders speculated that the deal may have conflicted and overlapped with work being done at William Hill Online (WHO).WHO, a joint venture between William Hill and Playtech, focuses on online and mobile betting applications.
Gaming industry watchers may recall that the Tel Aviv WHO office has been embroiled in an ongoing drama that’s involved everything from emergency audits to staff walkouts. Most of the trouble in Israel centered on rumors that the operation would be moving to Gibraltar, a move company officials deny.
Hill himself recently travelled to Tel Aviv to handle matters at the branch personally. While in Israel, Hill fired seven senior managers and disciplined several others.
This isn’t the first gaming acquisition to fall apart recently. An attempt by Ladbrokers to acquire Sporting Bet and 888 met with a similar fate. Both William Hill and Ladbrokers are in something of an arms race to corner the growing mobile betting market. Smart phones and tablets are seen by many in the industry as the best opportunity to boost revenues in the years ahead.
In other William Hill news, the company announced the sale of its 15 Irish bookmaking shops to Boylesports for approximately one million Euros. Irish customers can still access William Hill sports books online via www.williamhill.ie.
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