After more than a year of debate, the combining of Tabcorp and Tatts Group has been given final approval and shareholders notified.

The proposed $11bn merger between the two ASX-listed Australian gaming companies was announced mid-October 2016.

The Australian Competition Tribunal (ACT) approved the deal in June this year, but this decision was appealed by both the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) and rival CrownBet.

In November the ACT heard the appeal, overruling concerns of reduced competition in the wagering landscape, and suggesting “there will likely be greater competition than without the merger”.

Based on this, Tatts Group (ASX: TTS) put the decision to shareholders at its AGM last week, the result counting 95.55 per cent of votes in favour of the resolution.

This final element allowed the Supreme Court of Victoria to make its decision, giving the green light for the two companies to come together under the Tabcorp name, effective 22 December 2017.

The ASX announcement heralds a “world-class, diversified gambling entertainment group, with a large national footprint and a diverse product offering across wagering, media, lotteries, Keno and gaming services”.

Amid fierce competition from multi-national largely online competitors, the board of Tabcorp feel the merger with Tatts creates a combined entity that is “well positioned to invest, innovate and compete in a rapidly evolving operating environment”.

The news has prompted minimal action in the company’s shareholders, Tabcorp up three per cent since the announcement to $5.330, and no transactions on Tatts shares.

Tabcorp chairman Paula Dwyer said in a letter to shareholders the merger marks the beginning of a new era in the competitive marketplace.

“This strategic transaction is transformational for Tabcorp and will underpin an exciting period of growth and new opportunity for the Company. The Directors and management of Tabcorp look forward to sharing this journey with you.”

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