Centrebet is up for sale

Plenty of interest from Brit buyers for Aussie online gambling firm

The possibility of an online gambling-friendly change in Australian federal gambling laws is creating ripples of interest among analysts and potential buyers alike, reports The Australian newspaper.

Shares in the family owned company Centrebet soared 16 percent this week, giving it a market capitalisation of A$143 million on speculation that three major overseas online gambling companies could be interested in snapping Centrebet up.

The company is 60 percent owned by the family of CEO Con Kafataris, and analysts opined that Ladbrokes, William Hill and Sportingbet are likely overseas suitors.

Industry observers base their speculation on the report of the Australian Productivity Commission which has recommended a number of reforms to Aussie gambling law which are favourable for the growth of online sportsbooks and casinos in Australia, a country with a strong gambling culture.

"The report foreshadowed ending state TABs' monopoly operation of betting terminals and allowing Australian operators to run online casinos as well as introduce online betting on events while in progress," The Australian advises, quoting one analyst who is sure the prospect of such a change has heightened overseas interest in the Australian online gambling market's potential.

Centrebet released a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday saying it had received "a number of confidential, indicative, non-binding and conditional proposals from parties expressing an interest in the possible acquisition of the company and is facilitating discussions".

The Australian notes that Centrebet's takeover talks with the British firms follow the UK-based Paddy Power's purchase of a controlling stake in Australian-based Sportsbet in the middle of last year and Sportsbet's subsequent purchase of fellow Australian operator IASbet.

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