The astonishing £265million paid to Denise Coates, co-founder of Bet365, caused a major stir last week.
But what passed unnoticed was that Coates has bigger ambitions on her mind after she splashed out $50million (£39million) on a Stateside tie-up.
Bet365 has agreed to spend the cash on a stake in New York betting business Empire Resorts – a deal that could capitalise on what analysts believe might be a new gold rush for gambling firms.
Good bet: Coates has spent £39million on a US deal
It is the second deal the company has made in the US this year after launching a partnership with Hard Rock Atlantic City Casino in July.
But her business is not alone. Others are snapping up small US gambling firms that might one day pay out big bucks after the Supreme Court overturned federal laws banning bets on sporting events.
Analysts predict the market could be worth between $10billion and $25billion in the coming years if laws continue to loosen up.
Competition is so fierce that major British firms are squabbling to be first in the queue.
In a bizarre spat, William Hill – which has the largest position in the US of all UK betting firms in partnership with Eldorado Resorts – has filed a lawsuit in New Jersey against Paddy Power Betfair’s US venture – FanDuel.
Court documents claim that FanDuel, a fantasy sports website popular in the States, plagiarised William Hill’s ‘how to play’ manual, with inept staff even leaving the British bookie’s logo on the FanDuel website.
Both sides are said to be privately laughing off the case – but the US growth story is no laughing matter.
Earlier this year the US’s highest court ruled that betting laws can be decided at a state level – rather than by the federal government.
Since the ruling, seven states have already legalised sports betting, three are close to passing new rules and, according to sports broadcaster ESPN, a further 20 are moving towards legislation.
Kenny Alexander, chief executive of Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC, explained: ‘The US is going to be the biggest regulated market in the world once all the states have opened up.
‘We’ve done a JV [joint venture] with MGM. They have enormous brand recognition and we have the online expertise.
‘We could have gone it alone but history is littered with UK companies trying to break America and failing.’ William Hill has told investors that US revenues could reach up to $4.9billion – which some have called an underestimate.
Roberta Ciaccia, an analyst at Berenberg, said New Jersey – which was the first state to legalise sports betting – saw bets hit $260million in October alone.
She said: ‘If you assume the average expenditure in the US was in line with UK levels now, it would be $25billion.’