Two of the UK’s largest gambling companies, Ladbrokes and Gala Coral, have confirmed a merger worth £2.3 billion. The merger will create the largest bookmaker in the country, overtaking the current leader in the market, William Hill. The combined property portfolio of Ladbrokes and Gala Coral includes over 4,000 high street betting shops, as well as multiple online gambling sites. However, the merger announcement is not a done deal and industry analysts expect that Ladbrokes will face an uphill battle to convince the British competition regulators to allow the creation of the new Ladbrokes Coral. The Competition and Markets Authority is expected to inspect the terms of the deal with a fine toothed comb, and it could take up to a year for it to receive the green light. Some analysts have even speculated that the deal may not ever receive clearance. In 1998, when Ladbrokes attempted to purchase Coral under similar terms, it did not manage to convince the competition authorities to give final permission. This time around, Ladbrokes is arguing that the terms are different, and that the deal should be allowed. Under the terms of the deal, both brands will be maintained, although it has not been denied that some people will lose their jobs under the merger. Ladbrokes’ new chief executive, Jim Mullen, who stepped into the job in April this year, will act as executive deputy chairman of the merged company for twelve months. The group’s chief operating officer of digital and UK betting shops, will be Coral’s Andy Hornby. According to Mullen, Hornby is a “first class executive and the combined group is lucky to have him.” Andy Hornby will not, however, sit on the combined group’s board. Peter Erskine, chairman of Ladbrokes said that this was “a major strategic step for Ladbrokes, which firmly accelerates our strategy to improve the customers’ experience and build recreational scale.” He said that both Ladbrokes and Coral are “two highly complementary businesses with a rich heritage and brand presence across the UK and internationally.” Erskine said that the merged group would create a leading betting and gaming business in the gambling industry which combines strong brands with “an attractive multi channel offering and an extensive national and international coverage”. Current shareholders of Ladbrokes will own 51.75% of the newly combined group, and Gala Coral’s shareholders will control the other 48.25%.