Business

MGM bids to buy Ladbrokes owner Entain

US casino company MGM Resorts has made a bid to buy the owner of British bookmaker Ladbrokes with the financial support of billionaire mogul Barry Diller’s IAC group, according to people briefed about the matter. 

Entain, which also owns sports betting site Bwin and online gaming group Partypoker, recently received an offer after having rejected an earlier all-cash proposal worth about $10bn, the people briefed said. 

The move by the operator of the Las Vegas Bellagio casino and resort comes as several US gambling operators are seeking to build online business as American regulations begin to ease. Although gambling is regulated at the state level, a US Supreme Court decision in 2018 removed barriers to online sports betting. 

IAC, which invested $1bn in MGM earlier this year to boost the casino operator’s online business, is supportive of the bid for Entain and is willing to inject an extra $1bn to finance the takeover of the London-listed group, said those briefed about the matter.

It is unclear whether Entain’s board is willing to entertain the new bid, which is expected to be a mix of cash and stock, the people briefed added. 

David Satz, a former executive at US casino operator Caesars Entertainment with extensive expertise in the US gaming regulatory environment, was recently added to the board of directors of Entain to help the UK group assess its future prospects in the American market.

Mr Diller, who launched the Fox television network for Rupert Murdoch before building his own broadcasting and digital media empire, said in August that IAC’s experience could contribute to the growth of MGM’s online gaming business. 

IAC currently owns scores of online and digital media brands, including news site The Daily Beast, video streaming website Vimeo and home improvement site Angie’s List.

Over the years, IAC has acquired and later spun off a series of well-known online companies, including travel portal Expedia and more recently Match Group, the owner of dating apps Tinder and OkCupid.

MGM declined to comment, while IAC said in an email that “we don’t comment on rumours or speculation”. Entain could not be immediately reached for comment.

MGM and Entain signed a $200m joint venture soon after the Supreme Court decision in 2018 to pursue sports betting opportunities in the US. 

In July last year, the two companies, which have a 50/50 partnership in a platform called Roar Digital, increased their investment to $450m. 

The Wall Street Journal first reported MGM’s bid for Entain.

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