UK competition watchdog formally okays Ladbrokes-Gala Coral merger

UK competition watchdog formally okays Ladbrokes-Gala Coral merger

UK competition watchdog formally okays Ladbrokes-Gala Coral mergerThe UK competition watchdog has formally approved the merger of gambling operators Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Group.

On Wednesday, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) officially approved the sale of 360 betting shops to Betfred, Stan James and Bet 21, which was announced 10 days ago. The CMA had ordered the shops sell-off to alleviate market saturation concerns brought on by the pending merger of the two betting powerhouses.

Last week’s announcement revealed that Betfred was in line to acquire 322 shops while Stan James picked up 37. A single shop was tagged for disposal to an unidentified buyer, which has now been revealed as the little known Bet 21 Ltd.

Ladbrokes issued a statement saying it expects the merger with Gala Coral to take place “in the very near future.” In the meantime, Lads plans to publish a prospectus to prep the enlarged company for readmission to the London Stock Exchange.

Lads CEO Jim Mullen claimed to be “delighted” to have the CMA’s final blessing, and that both companies are “approaching the merger with good momentum.” Gala Coral CEO Carl Leaver was equally ebullient, saying “the final hurdle has now been cleared and we can begin to realize the significant value available to both company’s shareholders.”

In less upbeat news, Ladbrokes has once again been taken to the woodshed by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a “misleading” email promotion that failed to adequately specify the terms by which punters could qualify for a deposit bonus.

The email copy read as follows: “Deposit £35 and Get £5 … Deposit £60 and Get £10 … Deposit £100 and Get £20 …” The fine print said bettors had to wager the bonus + deposit amount five times to qualify for the bonus. The ad also noted that “game stake contributions apply” and included a link to Lads’ general terms & conditions.

The complainant who took Lads up on its offer was later told that he’d exceeded a 30% bonus betting limit and thus his bonus winnings were void. The ASA said the maximum bet limit was “a significant condition” of the offer and should have been spelled out more clearly.

The ASA also took issue with Lads’ failure to specify that different types of betting contributed different amounts toward the promotion’s overall wagering requirements. The ASA ordered Lads not to reissue the same ad and to ensure that future ads were more upfront with their conditions.