Our online casino news this month concerns two of the biggest high street bookmakers, which have finally received the go ahead to merge. Ladbrokes, one of the best known online casino operator and betting shop owner in Ireland announced last July that they were to merge with Coral in a £ 3.3 billion deal which would mean that the enlarged group would overtake William Hill as Britain’s biggest high street bookmaker. Since then the deal has been under consideration by the Competition and Markets Authority primarily because of concerns regarding reduced competition on the high street across a large number of local areas. Some analysts thought that they may have been forced to sell off as many as 1000 of their betting shops, but the provisional findings of the CMA announced on May 20th indicate that only 400 of the merged estate of 4000 shops would need to be sold. It also appears that the CMA is not concerned by the fact that Ladbrokes and Coral also own four greyhound tracks between them and have decided not to force a sale of one of these tracks as some had predicted. Historians with knowledge of the betting industry will remember that it is 18 years since Ladbrokes bought Coral from Bass, only for the deal to be blocked by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. There is still a lot to do before this deal finally gets the go ahead because the CMA wants the sales of the shops to be in their words ‘substantially completed’ before the final green light, but it is understood that both Ladbrokes and Coral have had approaches from interested parties. The early favourite to buy some or all of these shops is Betfred, currently the fourth biggest bookmaker in Britain and another online casino operator well known by Irish casino games plasyers, but it is also understood that BoyleSports the Dundalk based bookmaker would also be interested as a way into the UK market. This story has a distance to run.