Bookmaker news of the week

By Martin Green10 February 2019
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Rhodri Giggs

Paddy Power prides itself on making mischief and has gained a huge amount of publicity with its latest stunt. The Irish bookmaker has convinced Ryan Giggs’ brother Rhodri to become its new brand ambassador and it pokes fun at the Wales manager in irreverent fashion. The former Man Utd winger was exposed for having an eight-year affair with his brother’s wife, and they have not spoken since. Now Rhodri is cashing in on the whole sordid affair by fronting Paddy Power’s new ad, titled “Loyalty is dead”. It promotes the bookmaker’s “anti-loyalty scheme” called Paddy’s Rewards Club and Giggs closes the ad with the proclamation: “The problem is, loyalty gets you nowhere, live for rewards instead.” When asked how his brother will react, Rhodri Giggs said: “I’m sure, after the initial defensiveness, he’ll have a laugh about it. It’s funny.”

William Hill has upped its stake in MRG to 98.5% after initiating compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares. MRG holds remote gambling licences in Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Sweden, the UK and Ireland, allowing William Hill to boost its European footprint as it continues to expand in the USA. Chief executive Philip Bowcock said the deal makes William Hill “a more digital and more international business”.

The UK Gambling Commission is set to introduce new rules in a bid to better protect children and problem gamblers. The new rules will require sites to confirm punters’ age and identity much faster than the 72-hour window previously permitted. This is designed to stop problem gamblers circumventing exclusion systems, limit the risk of children gambling and also prevent unverified customers exploiting free bet offers. The new rules come into force on May 7. Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “These changes will protect children and the vulnerable from gambling-related harm, and reduce the risk of crime linked to gambling. They will also make gambling fairer by helping consumers collect their winnings without unnecessary delay.”

Ladbrokes has been accused of a conflict of interest over problem gamblers after a Guardian investigation found staff being incentivised to encourage customers to play slot machines. One shop manager told the newspaper: “On one side we have to abide by the Gambling Commission’s responsible gambling objectives. On the other hand we’re being incentivised to get people to put money in the slots. If you meet the targets you have more security in your job.” Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who chairs a cross-party group of MPs on gambling-related harm, said: “Bookmaker staff are clearly being put in an impossible position. They are expected to comply with licensing conditions at the same time as being incentivised to ignore problem gambling. Ladbrokes and others acting in this way need to sharpen up their act and do so quickly. They have a duty to comply with licensing regulations and should also accept a moral duty to protect their staff, customers and the vulnerable people in our society.”

Bet365 and Paddy Power are among the operators that have gain a new social responsibility kitemark called the Safer Gambling Standard. It is designed to recognise operators that go “above and beyond” the requirements of licensing codes of practice. Organiser GamCare said that Bet365, Betsson, PaddyPower Betfair, Camelot, JPJ Group and Genting are currently excelling in this department and they get the kitemark. Meanwhile, Bet365 and Sky Bet have been confirmed as the launch partners for the Opta’s new real-time fast player statistics feed. The service will supply highly detailed in-play statistics for automated live trading and fast settlement of player and team prop markets.