Could 888 and William Hill Engage in Second Round of Merger Talks

July 27th, 2016 | by Brian Corlisse
888 William Hill merger talks.

Could a three-way deal between 888, Rank and William Hill create a new super power in online poker? (Image: Thinkstock)

888 and William Hill could be set to merge if the latter decides the deal is sweet enough to advance its position in the iGaming market.

By the close of 2015 one of the stories of the year was the mergers between some of the largest operators in the industry.

From Paddy Power and Betfair to Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, the industry’s major players moved to consolidate their assets in an effort to combat the ever-changing landscape of iGaming.

888 Remains Active

Since the start of these mergers, 888 has been one of the most ambitious campaigners. In fact, 888’s move for bwin was trumped by GVC at the start of 2016, just a few months after its talks with William Hill broke down.

As it stands, 888 has grown considerably over the last five years and, today, it runs the second most populated poker network in the industry according to Poker Scout.

This position in poker, combined with interests in sports betting, casino and bingo, means 888 has got some pulling power.

But, in order to reignite potential deal with William Hill, it’s had to join forces with the operator of Grosvenor casinos and Mecca Bingo, Rank.

Should a deal be agreed, the new entity would become one of the largest operators in the world, but current reports suggest William Hill is unsure.

Despite struggling to maintain its 2,300 betting shops and online entities, William Hill is still larger than 888 and Rank combined which has prompted analysts to question how a deal would work.

Potential Positives for Poker Players

Of course, stranger things have happened in the iGaming industry, but the current vibe suggests there’s a lot of work today before any serious offers are made.

If a merger does happen, then it could be good news for poker players. William Hill Poker has never been one of the biggest players in the industry, but if it’s brought in line with 888’s poker assets then all this could change.

As stated, the 888poker network currently attracts almost 3,000 cash game players (24 hour peak) and with platforms in the UK, Europe and the US, it’s easily the second biggest force in poker behind PokerStars.

Having a partner like this could certainly pique the interest of William Hill, just as William Hill’s sports betting assets will appeal to 888 and Rank.

On paper, a merger certainly has a lot of benefits for all three operators as well as poker players, but if last year’s negotiations are anything to go by then we get too excited just yet.

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