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ALEX BRUMMER: Las Vegas Bids For The Queen's Favourite Bookmaker
ALEX BRUMMER: Las Vegas Bids For The Queen's Favourite Bookmaker
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There is a great deal not to like about the £8.1billion bid by casino operator MGM for Entain, owner of the bookies Ladbrokes and Coral, and a pioneer of sports betting technology.


Britain has long been the home of sports betting and Ladbrokes, the Queen's favourite bookmaker, is much a part of the UK's blood stock heritage as Royal Ascot, Cheltenham and Epsom. 


The very idea of Las Vegas gambling bosses, in wide ties and shiny suits, occupying hospitality boxes and tents at these quintessentially British events will give traditionalists conniptions.


Takeover bid: Ladbrokes, the Queen's favourite bookmaker, is much a part of the UK's bloodstock heritage as Royal Ascot, Cheltenham and Epsom


Britain's more traditional gambling industry moved away from its legacy when it embraced online gaming and introduced 'crack cocaine' gaming machines into betting shops up and down the land.


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The desert city has thrived on the back of Slot machine machines and is licking its lips at the prospect of buying the UK's sports betting expertise.


When America's big casino franchises signed deals with the UK sports betting experts post-2018, after the US Supreme Court gave the green light to sports betting, it became inevitable that they would eventually seek control. 


William Hill shareholders approved a £2.9billion takeover by the owners of Caesars Palace last year. 


The idea is to integrate the sports books of the two companies, creating a sports betting behemoth operating 170 venues across 15 states.


If MGM is successful the only big gambling group with a London Stock Exchange float will be Flutter Entertainment, owner of Paddy Power, Betfair, Fan Duel and Canada's Stars Group.


As much as online gambling and 'crack cocaine' gaming machines changed the sports betting industry for the worse, abandoning it to foreign ownership will be a loss.


Much of the technology involved has been engineered in the UK and sports betting is part of the nation's services and cultural DNA. 


The UK has a sophisticated licensing system, the industry is a big employer and generates useful profits for exchequer.





How that will be impacted by US control is unclear but is certainly worth scrutiny.


The MGM offer for Entain may look like a big number but is less alluring when broken down. Entain chairman Barry Gibson is right to reject it, claiming it 'significantly undervalues' the company.



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