CORRECTED-UPDATE 3-Online gambling firm 888 wins $1.4 bln battle for

Fri Jul 17, 2015 5:14pm EDT
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(Corrects paragraph 8 to show Jason Ader's Spring Owl is Bwin's fourth biggest shareholder, not second biggest)

* 888 and GVC had submitted bids for Bwin

* Bwin opts for 888 offer over higher GVC bid

* Firms say will add scale, deliver cost and revenue benefits

By Neil Maidment

LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) - Online casino and poker firm 888 won the battle for larger rival Digital Entertainment on Friday, clinching a cash and stock deal worth almost 900 million pounds ($1.4 billion).

888, which itself rejected a takeover by Britain's biggest bookmaker William Hill in February, had been battling against a 908 million pound offer from GVC Holdings for Bwin, which put itself up for sale last year.

The recommended deal is the latest in a flurry of M&A activity in the industry, a trend set to continue as firms expand to help offset increasing taxes and tighter regulation and fund higher marketing and technology spend.

"We believe the deal creates one of the world's leading online gaming operators," 888's Executive Chairman Brian Mattingley told Reuters.   Continued...