Paddy Power Betfair CEO Adopts Maverick Approach To Proposed FOBT Crackdown
The proposed curbs on the fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) has become a national political issue with increasing pressure on the government to crackdown on what is dubbed as the “ crack cocaine” of the gambling world.
One of the main recommendations to the government is to reduce the maximum wager stake from £100 to £2 which would have a devastating effect on the major bookies like William Hill and Ladbrokes. In an interesting development Paddy Power Betfair has seemingly broken ranks with the fellow bookmakers by becoming the first ones to actually recommend curbs on FOBTs.
CEO Breon Corcoran believes that the overall debate around FOBTs has become “ so toxic” for the gambling industry and that decisive action is required to address Societal concerns.
This unusual supports will not sit well with Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill where these machines make up a huge percentage of their revenues. Both the companies have made it clear that any reduction on the £100 maximum stake would lead to huge job cuts and shop closures.
Corcoran in a letter to the Financial Times went on to explain his controversial stance. He said, ”Whilst we are not aware of any evidence which links stake size to problem gambling, we are acutely aware of the increasing reputational damage to the gambling industry that has followed lack of progress in this area. We now believe that the issue has become so toxic that only a substantial reduction in FOBT stake limits to £10 or less will address societal concerns. I am confident we could operate our retail business successfully and profitably under such circumstances. Other well-run operators should be able to do the same.”
Many point out that the proposed changes to maximum stakes will have a relatively minor effect on Paddy Power Betfair should the £10 maximum stake be adopted with around £32m lost. But rival William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral could lose as much as £182m and £276m respectively.
These sentiments was echoed by external relations director at Ladbroke Donal McCabe saying, “Of course with 300 shops [at Paddy Power Betfair] and a massive online presence, [Mr Corcoran] is looking at an impact on a very different scale to the rest of the sector, where 20,000 jobs are at risk. Some might say it is a naked act of opportunistic commercialism dressed up as a concern over the sector and the wider good.”
People in the know believe that the limit will be reduced to something in the region of £20 – £30. Paddy Power Betfair’s maverick position is not shared by the Association of British bookmakers of which they are a member of. In a statement they said that Paddy Power Betfair’s position did not reflect the view of the majority of members and that Paddy Power Betfair made up just 4 percent o the UK retail estate.