Belfast Telegraph

Bookmaker takeover talks collapsed amid Turkish president's gambling crackdown

A crackdown on gambling ordered by Turkey's authoritarian president was partly to blame for a breakdown in takeover talks between GVC and high street bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral, it has emerged.

The Press Association understands GVC's Turkish operations - which the group acquired as part of its takeover of Sportingbet in 2013 - became a sticking point for Ladbrokes Coral shareholders as the two firms discussed a potential deal.

The online firm's Turkish exposure was seen as a big investor risk following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's clampdown on illegal gaming, which may extend to increased internet monitoring, restrictions on payment services and a ban on gambling advertising.

The business community has become increasingly wary of Mr Erdogan's increasingly hardline rule, which has seen foreign investors pull capital from the troubled Eurasian country.

It is thought investors in Ladbrokes Coral were spooked by the prospect of being taken over by a group with interests in Turkey.

GVC derives around 12% of its annual gaming revenue from Turkey, having accounted for 100.3 million euro (£92.6 million) of GVC's total 823.3 million euro (£760.2 million) revenues for 2016.

Concerns were also raised over the UK Government's review of the gambling sector, the results of which are expected this autumn, as well as issues surrounding the impact of the UK's 15% gaming duty on the combined business.

Both GVC and Ladbrokes Coral declined to comment.

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