Irishman Dermot Desmond is in the Irish gambling news at the moment for attempting to block the much publicised merger between Ladbrokes and Coral. Mr Desmond is well known in Irish gambling circles as he sold his Betdaq exchange to Ladbrokes in 2013 and ended up with around 2% of Ladbrokes. His concerns according to reports in the gambling news are partly due to Ladbrokes reportedly trailing competitors in the online gambling market whilst at the same time the merger will focus on the betting shops side of the business. A Ladbrokes and Coral tie up would result in the group having around 4000 shops at a time when regulators are looking at gaming machines and the number of gambling premises in general. It is also feared that the Competition and Markets Authority will insist that the group dispose of some shops which could in turn cause loss of income and wipe out any potential savings which the group could make. Gambling online is still on the up but the number of shops could be reduced in total. The new group would also be taking on significant debt currently held by Coral which would increase gearing for Ladbrokes and could reduce dividend. Coral does not have a major online gambling arm so the tie up would do nothing to alleviate the perception of Ladbrokes trailing in the online gambling stakes. The other possibility is that if Mr Desmond is successful in his lobbying of other shareholders and the deal does not go through it could open up Ladbrokes to possible bidding from larger rivals. The issue has been in the general gambling news for some months but it could take a major step one way or another at Tuesday’s general meeting. Gambling.ie will keep the ears to the ground and report anything of interest to the Irish gambling pubic.