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Gaming sites bet on merger

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PartyGaming and Bwin have agreed to merge, just as moves to make online gambling legal in the US get a little closer.

The merged company will be the world's largest listed online gaming company, with pro forma revenues for 2009 of €682m and earnings of €196m.

The new company will be 48.36 per cent owned by PartyGaming's shareholders and 51.64 per cent owned by Bwin investors.

The two seem a reasonable fit - PartyGaming is strong in online poker and casino games, while Bwin is strong in sports betting, and streams the German premier league football. Bwin is especially known for its betting during live games.

PartyGaming is listed on the London Stock Exchange but is based in Gibraltar for tax reasons. It has operated since 1997 - when it floated in 2005 it was valued at £4.63bn. Today it trades at a rather saner £1.2bn.

We wouldn't bet on a quick resolution to US objections to foreign gambling companies, but the House Committee on Financial Services did pass a bill to ease the ban this week. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

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