Deal flurry puts pressure on British bookmaker William Hill
* Merged rivals to overtake UK gambling company William Hill
* 888 takeover talks could be revived
* International growth offers alternative route to expansion
By Neil Maidment
LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - William Hill began the year as Britain's biggest bookmaker, with an online and retail business that rivals struggled to match. A series of summer mergers is pushing it down the pecking order and putting it under pressure to react.
Driven by tighter regulation and tax pressures in Britain and continental Europe that are taking chunks out of profits, big betting names Ladbrokes and Gala Coral are combining, as are Paddy Power and Betfair.
Online gambling firm GVC also agreed a 1.1 billion pound deal for larger rival Bwin.Party this month -- with the same factors fuelling consolidation.
The larger companies can divert savings into higher marketing spend and potentially offer a wider array of improved products to gamblers on smart phones and tablets. Smaller rivals are then squeezed out and these new groups' lower costs, enhanced market share and larger revenues all help to soften bigger tax charges. Continuación...