The New Year is set to bring big changes to European online gambling as giants Ladbrokes are reportedly set to merge with 888 Holdings.

Following the report in the Financial Times of the proposed buyout of 888 Holdings by the UK’s largest sports book, Ladbrokes, online gambling experts are predicting the formation of what could be the world’s largest gambling website. Both companies are heavily committed to providing their customers with top quality casino gaming, poker and sports book options online.

The merger, if it comes about, is estimated to be worth in excess of £240 million and has already caused a stir in the UK stock market as shares in 888 Holdings made massive gains of 18 percent to close at 57.75 pence at the weekend. Experts estimate the merger could be worth as much as 70 pence for each share.

There has so far been no comment made from the CEO’s of either company, but this hasn’t prevented the rumor spreading around the industry that it is a done deal. In fact, the only fly in the ointment that might stand in the way of the merger taking place this year is that there has still been no non-prosecution deal struck between the United States Dept of Justice and 888 Holdings. According to analysts, this could cause some problems with regulatory risks attached.

This is not the first time that Ladbrokes and 888 Holdings have attempted to broker a deal. Back in 2007, Ladbrokes were about to purchase 888 Holdings for a reported per share price of 140 pence, but the deal fell through due mainly to the recently passed UIGEA legislation in 2006. This changed many aspects of the online gambling industry in the United States, making the deal less attractive to both management and shareholders worldwide.

Ladbrokes And 888 Set To Merge

This is not the only big name merger to be planned for 2011. PartyGaming is set to merge with Bwin to form what analysts predict to be the largest company dealing in online gambling in the world. Terms are still being drafted but it looks like another done deal in the making. Their combined online poker offering will put them third in the world behind PokerStars, the world leader and second place Full Tilt Poker. There are concerns that the proposed PartyGaming-Bwin poker site re-launch could attract players away from the big two sites, growing their own player base and increasing their world standing.