Belfast Telegraph

Punters put their chips on William Hill amid merger talks with poker firm

Investors took a punt on William Hill on Monday, following news that the bookmaker is in talks with Canadian poker firm Amaya about a potential £4.6 billion merger.

Shares in William Hill rose 3.36% in morning trading to 304.5p after it confirmed over the weekend that discussions are under way for a "merger of equals", creating one of the world's biggest online gambling firms.

"The potential merger would be consistent with the strategic objectives of both William Hill and Amaya and would create a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino," William Hill said.

Amaya owns the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands and the proposed deal comes months after Mecca Bingo operator Rank Group pulled out of a joint bid with 888 for William Hill.

The gambling sector has seen growing consolidation over the past year, with Paddy Power and Betfair joining hands and Coral and Ladbrokes inking a £2 billion merger.

Jason Holden, analyst at Liberum, said: "While there is likely to be some scepticism on a number of fronts, there is a complementary logic to such a merger and amongst other things, it would create a group which is much less exposed to the risk of rising UK duties on machine income."