Consolidation in online gambling: bwin acquires Italy's Gioco Digitale

Shares in Austrian provider of online gaming entertainment bwin Interactive Entertainment soared in early trading this morning after the company confirmed that it was in the final stages of acquiring Gioco Digitale, one of Italy’s oldest online gaming sites.

According to the announcement, the boards of both companies and its shareholders have agreed on principle terms for the acquisition of 100% of Gioco Digitale, but did state that although the acquisition was progressing, there could be no certainty that a final binding agreement on the transaction will be reached.

Details on deal size have not been disclosed yet at this point. Daniel Stewart & Company analyst James Hollins told Reuters that he estimated the purchase price to be around 100 million euros ($143 million), and expected the deal to boost bwin’s earnings. Italian media estimate Gioco Digitale to be purchased for in between 90 and 95 million Euros.

Bwin Interactive Entertainment provides sports betting, poker, casino games, soft and skill games, as well as audio and video streams of top sporting events in more than 25 markets under international and regional licenses. The company’s services are provided via the Internet and other digital distribution channels, such as mobile phones. It derives its revenues primarily from sports betting and poker on its primary websites and

The company in its last quarterly report had already made it clear it was planning on expanding into the Italian online gambling market, which it expects to be deregulated in the near future.