Bookmaker News of the Week

By Martin Green28 July 2019
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Major shareholders in Ladbrokes Coral owner GVC have demanded a heavyweight chairman to counter the influence of chief executive Kenny Alexander. The company’s share price plummeted by almost 20% earlier this year after Alexander sold £13.7 million worth of his holdings and chairman Lee Feldman sold £6 million. It came just after Alexander said the shares were under-priced. GVC stock then fell more than 11% in the days after The Sunday Times revealed the decision to gift GVC’s Turkish business to investors including Alexander’s partner in a stud farm, without disclosing that relationship to the market. It is time for GVC to “grow up” and appoint a “heavyweight” chairman to replace the outgoing Feldman, a major investor told the Sunday Times.

William Hill continues to devote increasing energy to cracking the US sports betting market amid store closures in its UK heartland. The firm is shutting hundreds of betting shops in Britain following the government’s decision to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs from £100 to £2. It has a strong footprint already in the US, having been active in Nevada for many years, and it is present in almost every state that has legalised sports wagering since PASPA came crashing down last year. Its latest move sees it team up with the Mescalero Apache Tribe to launch a brick and mortar sportsbook in New Mexico. In a trading update for the first 17 weeks of 2019, William Hill reported that US net revenue was up 48%. It is the market leader in Nevada, it is third in New Jersey and it dominates states like Delaware and Rhode Island via agreements with the lottery providers there.

Southend United have become the latest club to sign up for Paddy Power’s Save Our Shirt campaign. The Irish bookmaker caused a stir last week after images emerged of the 2019/20 Huddersfield Town kit emblazoned with giant sashes featuring the Paddy Power logo. It sparked fury among anti-gambling campaigners, but it turned out to be another Paddy Power hoax. It revealed that it has actually paid to “un-sponsor” Huddersfield’s kit for the 2019/20 campaign, so the Terriers will be playing without a logo. Scottish side Motherwell and Welsh team Newport County have also taken on Paddy Power as an un-sponsor, with Southend the latest to join up. “Another day, another shirt saved,” said a Paddy Power spokesman. “We’re delighted that Southend United have joined our Save Our Shirt campaign, making it four British clubs who have been unsponsored by Paddy Power for this season ahead. As a sponsor, we know our place – and it’s not on your shirt.”

Unibet is clearly taking a different tack, as it has just revealed itself to be the latest shirt sponsor of Belgian top-flight team Club Brugge. They are regulars in European competition and they will be proudly advertising Unibet next season. Bob Madou, chief operating officer at Club Brugge, said he is excited about the sponsorship after confirming that it is the largest commercial partnership in the entire history of the football club. Many Premier League clubs are sponsored by gambling companies, including Betway teaming up with West Ham and Sportpesa sponsoring Everton. “The time for warm words is over,” said Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, industry bête noir who is frequently quoted in in anti-gambling stories, and is also in the firing line this week for “whipping up a moral panic” over the false allegations of sexual abuse made against politicians. “Either the industry is going to act in good faith, or we will need stricter regulation of gambling advertising, starting with a ban on football shirt sponsorship,” added Watson.