Bookmaker News of the Week

By Martin Green23 May 2018
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The UK’s leading bookmakers have been left reeling by the government’s announcement that it plans to reduce the maximum spin from £100 to just £2 on virtual roulette games. FOBT machines in betting shops have been branded the scourge of the high street and the crack cocaine of the gambling world, and the government has long been under pressure to crack down on them. Shares at William Hill, Betfred and GVC, which owns Ladbrokes and Coral, plummeted after the announcement. The groups said it will mean they have to lay off many employees, shut many betting shops and potentially give less money to horse racing. But it will sharpen their focus on online betting, so punters should be able to look forward to increasingly competitive bonus offers and attractive prices. However, it also means that the anti-gambling lobby is empowered and emboldened, and it will surely go after online gaming next. Greg Wood in the Guardian is already arguing for a maximum bet on sports betting.

Meanwhile, Paddy Power Betfair reacted positively to the news, saying it was pleased that the “reputational damage” suffered by the entire gambling industry, both on the high street and online, as a result of the FOBT machines. “We welcome, therefore, the significant intervention by the government, and believe this is a positive development for the long-term sustainability of the industry,” said chief executive Peter Jackson.

Brexit has inspired Bet365 to move many of its operations from Gibraltar to Mata once the UK leaves the European Union. The bookmaker said it will retain a strong presence in Gibraltar, a British territory, but that it will seriously ramp up its presence in the gaming hub of Malta. “Due to regulatory developments in various jurisdictions and the evolving global regulatory environment for online betting and gaming, we have decided to increase our existing presence in Malta, which provides a mature and robust regulatory environment for the industry,” it said in a statement. The Times of Malta has more on this.

Online bookmaker Mr Green has launched a partnership venture with Gamingzone Entertainment in a bid to capitalise on the burgeoning Esports betting market. “eSports is a quickly growing, global phenomena and an increasing number of fans is spending time on gaming as well as different kind of videos,” said chief executive Per Norman. “Experts believe this can become as huge as traditional sports. We want to be part of this development and create a presence among all its fans. In Gamingzone, we have found a partner who understands Esports, content and entertainment.” The press release is on the firm’s website.

Excitement continues to grow in the US after Congress struck down legislation preventing sports betting in most states. Operators are now rushing to get ready to launch sports betting platforms, and Churchill Downs – the racetrack that hosts the Kentucky Derby -- has announced that it will be entering the online sports betting sector via two new partnership deals with SBTech and the Golden Nugget Atlantic City. "We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience operating the largest legal online horse racing wagering business in the US as we enter the online gambling and sports betting markets,” said chief executive Bill Carstanjen. ESPN has rounded up everything you need to know about sports betting developments Stateside.