Online gaming group PartyGaming yesterday snapped up Gamebookers for 102 million euros (£69.8 million) in a company-transforming move that signals its first push into online betting.
A PartyGaming spokesman said the cash deal would bring sports betting expertise in the shape of 90 Gamebookers staff and the opportunity to sell its PartyPoker and PartyCasino games to over 50,000 active Gamebookers customers.
Antigua-licensed and Bulgaria-operated Gamebookers provides online sports betting in 12 languages and 140 countries.
PartyGaming said that while Gamebookers was a strong brand it would also be integrated into the PartyGaming stable.
"I can't say the new name, but obviously it'll have the word Party at the front," said the spokesman.
PartyGaming said Gamebookers did not accept bets from the United States, where the legality of online betting remains ambiguous and a rival company is currently facing charges related to taking illegal sports bets via the telephone and Internet.
BETonSPORTS former chief executive and seven others pleaded not guilty to racketeering and other charges earlier this week, while a judge extended her order banning the group from taking US bets.
PartyGaming, which offers casino and poker to U.S. play-ers, is trying to reduce its exposure to the region from around 75 per cent. "The acquisition of Gamebookers is an important step forward in diversifying PartyGaming's business from both a product and geographic perspective," said chief executive Mitch Garber.
The spokesman said Game-bookers was mainly focused in western and central Europe. "You can expect to see us push harder into new territory including Asia," he added.
PartyGaming will pay Gamebookers' owner, Isle of Man-based Trident Gaming, 81 million euros on completion and 21 million euros in 18 months' time.