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Paddy Power Betfair has bowed to fervent media speculation and confirmed that talks are underway with fantasy sports website FanDuel with regard to a potential merger of its US operations and forge a new sports betting giant.

Needless to say negotiations remain at an early stage with no guarantee that both sides will be able to agree on terms that are amenable to both, nor indeed how quickly any potential tie-up might be realised should the merger sail through.

Fan Duel specialises in fantasy sports leagues and matches in which players pick imaginary NFL American Football, MLB baseball, NBA basketball and NHL ice hockey teams before facing off against other players.

Subject only to a salary cap, the contests attract up to 30 million Americans who pay an entry fee for each contest in order to field their teams in the hope of winning a cash prize.

Sports betting had been banned in the US but restrictions have now been lifted, sparking a gold rush to capitalise on a hitherto closed market.

As and when finalised details are ironed out the bookmaker has pledged to make such terms public.

Last year Fan Duel called off a planned merger with rival DraftKings following an intervention by the US Federal Trade Commission.