ast week Playtech resolved a long-standing dispute with William Hill over their joint venture deal. The bookmakers had applied for an injunction to prevent Playtech from signing up with any other gambling operators.
The settling of that dispute has left Playtech free to strike its deal with Gala. Rival Ladbrokes has also been considering a tie-up with the software group. ‘Gala makes money on its online bingo but its sport betting really punches below its weight,’ said one source. ‘Now that Playtech is free to talk to other operators, everything pointed to a deal between it and Gala.’
Staff have been warned that if a deal is struck there could be job losses in its IT department as positions transfer over to Playtech. The company said last week it is currently splitting itself into its various divisions in an internal reorganisation and said says that overall 100 new jobs will be created. ‘This is a very positive strategic move for them,’ said a Gala insider.
Gala, which owns casinos, bingo halls and the Coral bookmaking chain, completed a complex refinancing but still has us$ 3.2 billion of debt. It is ultimately planning to break itself up and sell some or all of the businesses but is likely to wait for market conditions to improve in the hope of gaining a higher price. It has already rejected a bid for its bingo business. Gala declined to comment officially on the Playtech talks.