Sportingbet’s merger talks with Unibet off

SPORTINGBET said yesterday that Swedish rival Unibet had withdrawn from merger talks.

The online betting company, however, remains in talks with several other parties over potential deals.

The companies had held talks to create a merged group worth £600m.

Sportingbet was seen as a likely target in the wake of the industry-transforming merger between PartyGaming and Austria’s bwin, which piled pressure on rivals and traditional bookmakers to keep pace.

In September, Sportingbet came under the spotlight for acquisitions again after it agreed to pay $33m (£20.7m) to settle a US investigation over alleged illegal internet gambling.

A 2006 US law effectively outlawed internet gaming.

In settling, Sportingbet agreed to cooperate with the government probe, and make employees available for interviews.

Sportingbet has long been considered an attractive M&A play in the consolidating betting sector, especially after it settled in the US.

The company has confirmed that it “has had and will continue to have discussions with different parties in relation to a variety of potential opportunities”.