William Hill confirms tie-up talks over digital bookmaker CrownBet

Business News

Betting giant William Hill has said talks are under way over a possible tie-up between rival CrownBet and its Australian business.

The FTSE 250 group has held “very preliminary discussions” with CrownBet, which is 62% owned by Australian gaming and entertainment group Crown Resorts.

While the firm confirmed the media speculation, it said there was no certainty a deal will be reached.

The announcement comes after William Hill gave a bright update to the market earlier this week, as digital revenues picked up pace and it assured investors over its turnaround plans.

It revealed on Monday that online net revenues had grown 6% over the 17 weeks to October 24, with the amounts wagered rising 13% for the period.

That is compared to its UK retail stores which reported half of that revenue growth at just 3%, while wagers fell 1%.

But its international performance was mixed, with Australian revenue and wagers falling 2% and 5%, respectively, while its US business delivered a 28% rise in revenues and a 33% jump in wagers.

The betting industry is preparing itself for a further squeeze in light of increased regulation in the UK, with the Government last month revealing plans to cut the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to between £50 and £2.

It was part of a package of measures resulting from the Government’s gambling review, with the high-stake, high-speed electronic casino games said to be dangerously addictive, allowing players to wager up to £100 every 20 seconds.