The Stars Group to Pursue Casino and Sportsbook Merger and Acquisition Opportunities

Canadian gambling giant The Stars Group posted on Wednesday its first financial report since the completion of its rebranding. In general, the financial picture presented by the company was quite bright with considerable year-on-year increase in key performance indicators that encouraged it into considering merger and acquisition opportunities.

The Stars Group, formerly known as Amaya, saw a 6.8% increase in revenue for the second quarter of the year to $305.3 million and an 8.4% one in revenue for the first half of 2017 to $622.5 million. Online poker revenue dropped 5.9% to $202.9 million during the three months ended June 30, 2017. Online casino and sports betting services, on the other hand, saw a 50.2% jump in revenue for the reviewed three months to nearly $90 million.

Among other things, The Stars Group also managed to further reduce its debt during the first half of the year and to pay off balance from the $4.9-billion acquisition of The Rational Group, parent company of its leading PokerStars brand.

With a new name, new headquarters (The Stars Group recently relocated to Toronto, Canada), and improved financial state, the gambling giant announced on Wednesday that it is ready to pursue merger and acquisition opportunities.

Rafi Ashkenazi, CEO of the company, said on a Wednesday conference call with analysts that they will be mainly eyeing online casino and sports betting acquisitions. The Stars Group has already established itself as the leader in the online poker space and expanding its casino and sportsbook business seems to be a logical next move in the group’s development.

Last fall, The Stars Group entered merger talks with UK gambling operator William Hill. The two companies discussed the potential creation of a £5-billion gambling behemoth with omni-channel operations across a number of regulated jurisdictions. However, a deal was not completed as talks fell apart too quickly, mainly due to pressure from leading William Hill shareholders who did not want a tie-up with what they considered a company with heavy financial burdens to dispose of.

William Hill itself pursued consolidation to improve its struggling digital division for quite some time. Now, almost a year later after the Amaya merger talks, the operator claims that its online business has improved significantly and that it has enough strength to endure regulatory challenges and increasing competition in the gambling field on its own.

William Hill has long sports betting history and its experience in the sector would certainly be of great help to The Stars Group, which is a relative newbie in the space. However, given the fact that a merger between these two failed due to great discontent from the UK bookmaker’s shareholders, a combination of the two gambling giants is not that likely.

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