After months of speculation by investment analysts in the gambling industry, the future of Sportingbet took another possible direction yesterday with the announcement that William Hill has entered talks regarding a potential joint offer in association with GVC Holdings. The shares in Sportingbet, the online bookmaker, have soared over the past four months on the back of bid speculation and rose again sharply yesterday. Gambling enthusiasts in Ireland will clearly be aware of William Hill’s online sports gambling and casino gambling operations, but GVC Holdings are less well known to most people. Following the collapse of talks between Sportingbet and Ladbrokes last year, GVC bought Sportingbet’s Turkish business and currently run gambling websites for German and Latin American customers in addition to Turkey. Gambling analysts think that William Hill’s main interest is in Sportingbet’s Australian business which contributes almost 90% of their profits, although some think that their Spanish gambling interests may also be a target for William Hill. The remaining European assets and those in the emerging markets would pass to GVC if the deal goes through. Talk of a deal of this sort is also likely to interest other big online gambling operators, and Paddy Power, Bwin Party and 888 Holdings may all be in the running. It is also worth remembering that William Hill are also in talks with the online casino software company, Playtech which owns a minority stake in William Hill Online, and have until November to decide whether to exercise the option to buy that stake from Playtech. Various sources within the gambling sector do however consider that William Hill could afford to do both deals. If you are an investor in the gambling sector, watch this space there could be a long way to go before any deal is completed.