In the end of March a saga on buying that continued for over a year on buying a controlling stake of Ladbrokes Coral Group by gaming holding CVG Holdings (which also owns PartyPoker and Bwin).
First info of this deal came to press attention in the beginning of 2017. At first, negotiations weren’t too successful as both sides could agree upon the price. Only in the very end of 2017 information about the deal that gave CVG 53.5% of LCG’s stock for 4 billion pounds, or 5.3 billion dollars.
Since that time up to March 2018 deal was waiting for its confirmation at Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). It had to find out that this absorption won’t lead to lowering competition at the market of gambler’s service. In result. After three months, this organization approved the deal. Now it can be considered a closed deal.
So what is Ladbrokes Coral Group? This copany was created not so long ago – in July, 2016. That was the time Ladbrokes purchased Coral for 2.3 billion pounds that has lead to creating the biggest sportsbook under British jurisdiction. Only on the territory of this country they have about 3.5 thousand departments.
That means CVG Holdings have purchased LCG firstly as a sportsbook as now holding is one of the biggest players on the European market of sports betting as it also owns Bwin and Sportingbet This is also confirmed by a small press release at the website of the holding.
We are mostly interested in the consequences this deal might have for the world of online poker. As officials didn’t comment on this occasion, we are only left to guess what might happen.
Ladbrokes Coral Group includes several poker rooms, two of the biggest there are – Ladbrokes and Coral that are a part of IPoker network. Sportium.es is the part of Italian reservation of IPoker. So poker future of CVG may be developed in two directions:
- In euro pool
- In the network of Party/Bwin.
Even before CMA decision was announced, Party Poker administration announced that it is being prepared to create a common pool of players in four European countries – France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. As an answer to this reunion, PokerStars united poker markets of France and Spain in January this year.
Now CVG has French and Spanish divisions of PartyPoker and corporate Italian room of Bwin and GiocoDigitale, as well as another room operating in this country Sportium.es.
Poker network Party/Bwin is on the rise during the latest two-year-span and its owners are moving toward the course of increasing its role in online poker and its will to invest to this process. So that players from Ladbrokes and Coral will help to resolve this matter. Union of these pools (Party/Bwin, Ladbrokes, Coral) is the most reasonable and comfortable way to increase competition of poker departments of CVG Holdings.
There is one huge”but”. They have to make a deal with PlayTech. As if IPoker will leave these networks, they won’t only lose part of the income but also risk to lose all networks that aren’t doing great recently. Exit of two of the biggest rooms – Ladbrokes and Coral may lead to the failure of whole IPoker and bigger losses for Playtech. This company is a strategic partner of – Ladbrokes Coral Group.
In March, Ladbrokes together with PlayTech completed creating the only platform for access of one of the accounts to all the online products of the company from all the devices. Coral did that not so long ago. As if transfer would have been planned to software of Party Gaming, why would they finalize a common project with Playtech after LBC absorption? As if all the rooms of CVG Holdings operated as a single pool, it had to be Party software. Integration projects of poker clients within a single network are yet unknown as it seems impossible.
Here we are talking about a single platform that unites poker, sports betting, casino games, lotteries, bingo and other games. Now in terms of the holding, one of its part operates on a platform of Party Gaming, and the other part on Playtech platform. Transfer of Ladbrokes and Coral to Party network is not just a change of poker client, this is a transfer from one gaming platform to another that touches all the products, not just poker. According to the fact mentioned earlier, this transition is not planned and its making is connected with too big of the financial and reputational losses that couldn’t be compensated with PartyPoker’s traffic growth of 10-15%
Conclusion: no union of poker departments of CVG Holdings is coming in the following several years.