07 January 2007

January 7, 2007
Matthew Goodman

THE company that owns the Jackpotjoy online gaming site is in talks with an American casino group about a possible £200m takeover.

A deal would create fortunes for Gamesys’s three founders, who own about two-thirds of the company, and would bring huge windfalls for the firm’s 51 staff, who own most of the rest of the business.

The company’s Jackpotjoy site offers online bingo as well as a variety of instant-win games, including one based on the popular television show Deal or no Deal.

Gamesys, which launched Jackpotjoy in 2001, has received a number of approaches from potential bidders after breaking off talks in the autumn with Party Gaming, the internet poker operator.

One of these is understood to have come from a casino operator based in America. Its identity is unknown, but Gamesys’s three founders — Noel Hayden, Andrew Dixon and Robin Tombs — are said to have travelled to America around Christmas to discuss a deal.

One industry source said that Gamesys’s talks with potential buyers are still at an early stage.

The discussions with Party Gaming are said to have centred on a deal valuing Gamesys at up to £200m but the shareholders are expected to want more than this if they are to be persuaded to sell after continued strong trading. The operation should benefit from further exposure this week as it is a sponsor of the World Professional Darts championship, which started yesterday.

Gamesys has more than 900,000 subscribers, more than half of whom are female, and had sales of £9.5m in 2005.

The company declined to comment.


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