Entain sells Betdaq back to Dermot Desmond

Entain Plc has confirmed the sale of the online betting exchange Betdaq to former owner Dermot Desmond for an undisclosed fee. 

The FTSE100 gambling group issued a one-line statement, informing media of its divestment of Betdaq to the Irish billionaire financier and horseracing magnet.

Desmond retakes control of Betdaq, a venture the businessman backed in the early 2000s, during the nascent days of online betting.

Based in Alderney, Betdaq established itself as the main rival to Betfair’s near-total dominance of the betting exchange market. In 2013 the business would be acquired by Ladbrokes Plc for £30 million – a deal that saw Desmond become a shareholder in the operator.

In 2015, Desmond would reappear within gambling circles, launching his public “Say No to Coral” campaign, in an unsuccessful effort to convince Ladbrokes shareholders to reject a £2.2 billion merger with Coral UK to Ladbrokes Coral Plc.

At the time, Desmond reprimanded chairman Peter Erskine and former CEO Richard Glynn for the total collapse of the Ladbrokes performance following its demerger from the Hilton Group.

Desmond’s campaign warned Ladbrokes investors to deny a merger that would create a new business carrying a debt holding of £1.2 billion (3x EBITDA performance).

In 2018, Betdaq became a property of GVC Holdings (legacy Entain Plc), as the former London AIM betting group completed its bold £3.8 billion reverse takeover of Ladbrokes Coral Plc, a transformative deal changing the landscape of UK gambling.

Since the takeover, rumours have circulated with regards to Betdaq’s future as an Entain brand, in which Ladbrokes and Coral serve as the FTSE firm’s flagship UK sports betting properties. 

Seeking to expand player liquidity against Betfair, Betdaq has cut its exchange commissions to a flat 2% across all markets. Yet, Betdaq faces a multiple million marketing battle and tech revamp if it is to challenge and meet the scale of Betfair as the dominant player of betting exchanges.  

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