Bookmaker news of week: major bid for Mr Green

By Bookmakers Review05 November 2018
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Bookmaking giant William Hill is poised to snap up Swedish operator Mr Green in a £242 million deal. The operator was over-exposed to the UK land-based market, which is set to be crippled by the government’s decision to reduced maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2. As such it is diversifying its portfolio and it has made huge strides into the burgeoning US sports wagering industry, with several deals in place in the likes of New Jersey, Delaware and Mississippi, complementing existing operations in Nevada. It now wants a presence in the EU as Brexit looms large, and purchasing Malta-based, Stockholm-listed Mr Green looks like an intriguing move. “We know we are heavily reliant on the UK market and what we need to think about is how we diversify to make sure we get more revenues from other markets,” said chief executive Philip Bowcock. “This provides that and takes our international revenues from about 14% to about 21%, but just as importantly Mr Green is a significant growth engine.” Check out the Racing Post for more.

One analyst thinks William Hill might be making a mistake by taking a punt on Mr Green. “It increases their digital footprint, but it doesn’t massively increase their online revenue and exposes them to countries with unclear regulations or taxation,” said Paul Leyland, analyst at gambling consultancy Regulus Partners. Only 17% of Mr Green’s revenues come from fully regulated markets, whereas the rest come from unregulated grey markets like Sweden, Norway and Finland. The Financial Times has more reaction to this news.

Paddy Power Betfair has delivered strong Q3 financial results as underlying earnings rose 3% to £104 million in the three months to September 30. Revenue shot up 10% to £483 million, and the operator attributed its success to its strong growth in the US after it snapped up FanDuel. The brand previously built up its reputation in the daily fantasy sports arena, but Paddy Power Betfair is now using it to front regulated sportsbooks, including a popular one at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Chief executive Peter Jackson said: “The third quarter was a good quarter for the group. In Europe, the encouraging momentum that we saw in the second quarter accelerated further, with online revenue up 15%. This momentum, which was evident in both Paddy Power and Betfair, is driven by enhancements in product and good execution in promotions and marketing. In the US, the exciting potential of the sports betting opportunity and the strength of our strategic positioning has been evidenced by our experience to date in New Jersey. FanDuel recorded a 30% share of the sports betting market in September, driven by a market-leading customer proposition, our strong brand presence and the ability to cross-sell from our fantasy sports player base.” The Times has more on this.

UK sports minister Tracey Crouch has resigned from government in response to delays in the crackdown on FOBTs. Chancellor Philip Hammond reported in Monday’s Budget that the cut in stakes from £100 to £2 would come into force in October 2019. She believes that will cause a further £1.6 billion to be lost on the virtual roulette machines and she felt compelled to stand down in protest. The BBC goes into detail on the background to this story.

Dutch regulator Kansspelautoriteit has handed out fines of €350,000 to operators CyberRock Entertainment of Curaҫao and Cyprus-based Honeydew for running online wagering in the Netherlands. Chairman René Jansen said: “Many Dutch people do not know online gambling in the Netherlands is illegal. Protecting consumers is an important objective of the KSA, in addition to preventing gambling addiction and combating illegality.” Visit the Kansspelautoriteit website for more on this.