GVC Acquiring Bwin.Party Would be a Bad Result
If GVC Holdings eventually acquires the assets of Bwin.Party, it is likely to have a negative effect on the future regulation of online poker in the USA.
According to a newspaper report in the British newspaper “The Times” (subscription required), the Chairman of GVC Holdings – Lee Feldman – has said that he is prepared to
go hostile in order for his company to win the battle against 888 Holdings for the ownership of Bwin.Party.
Feldman said that he was confident GVC Holding´s latest bid of £1.07 billion ($1.63 billion) would be accepted by Bwin.Party´s board, but that the company was
not prepared to walk away from acquiring the ownership of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment.
Commenting he believed GVC Holdings had the better operating track record, Feldman said that he would not exclude any strategy – such as making a direct share purchase offer to Bwin.Party´s shareholders – to make sure that GVC Holdings´ offer was accepted.
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Why is Bwin.Party Considered worth Fighting For?
There are a couple of reasons why GVC Holdings and 888 Holdings are fighting over Bwin.Party. Both companies risk losing market share following the recent mergers of Ladbrokes/Coral and Betfair/Paddy Power, and the acquisition of Bwin.Party would enable either company to become one of the largest online operators in the world (GVC Holdings is the owner of SportingBet.com).
Both companies are also looking at the possible expansion of online gambling in the USA despite New Jersey´s recent bid to legalize sports betting being torpedoed by a judge in Pennsylvania. The acquisition of Bwin.Party by 888 Holdings would give 888 a virtual monopoly in regulated online gambling markets, while GVC would get a foothold in the USA market ahead of potential regulation in [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/california-ipoker-moves-ahead-slightly/”]California[/geolink], [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/pennsylvania-poll-shows-residents-support-online-gambling/”]Pennsylvania[/geolink] and [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/new-york-online-poker-hearing-to-be-live-streamed/”]New York[/geolink].
The reluctance of Bwin.Party´s board to accept GVC Holding´s higher offer is said to be based around the board member´s opinion that 888 Holdings has the better potential for growth, and the risk that GVC would asset-strip Bwin.Party to the highest bidder. Furthermore, the board of Bwin.Party has already agreed a deal in principle with 888 Holdings.
What´s the Best Result for Poker Players in the USA?
Without a doubt the best result for poker players living in regulated states would be for 888 Holdings to acquire the assets of Bwin.Party. One of the reasons why regulated online poker in the USA has failed to meet expectations has been Bwin.Party´s opposition to an interstate compact between New Jersey and Nevada.
With nobody to team up with in Nevada, Bwin.Party is believed to have opposed any sharing of player pools which would have made 888/WSOP the dominant online force in the USA. If 888 Holdings acquires Bwin.Party, the objection to an interstate compact will be removed and the player pool should be expanded – leading to more liquidity at the tables, longer peak hours and more valuable poker tournaments.
If GVC´s bid for Bwin.Party is successful, the opposition to an interstate compact will remain in place – dividing not only the existing USA player pool, but possibly affecting the prospects for online poker regulation in the future. Projections for online gambling revenues will likely have to be readjusted in Pennsylvania, potentially resulting in plans for the regulation of online poker in the Keystone State to be put on hold.
If Feldman goes
hostile and GVC eventually acquires the assets of Bwin.Party, it could cause more damage to the future of regulated online poker in the USA than most observers believe.