BUSINESS

Is the betting shop dead?

TAGs: bet shops, mobile gaming, Paddy Power

Everyone is always trying to predict the direction that the gaming industry will take, many believe mobile gaming is the future, it’s clear that online gambling is not going anywhere, but what about brick and mortar casinos and betting shops?

J Todd of Perspectives Weekly, touched on this topic briefly with Jan Jones senior Vice President of Communications and Government relations for Harrah’s. Part of the discussion they had was that it is recognized that the internet already plays such a major role in our daily lives and because people spend so much time on the internet, online gambling continues to be the direction of the future.
That said, it doesn’t mean there’s no need for a physical presence, or that brick and mortar casinos are obsolete. On the contrary, rather, according to Jan Jones, companies that are able to have or currently have both will flourish, at least in North America that appears to be true.

What about across the pond? According to an article in the Independant.ie, the 2010 financial results of Irish bookmaker Paddy Power suggest that the business would do well without Paddy’s traditional betting shops. The article cites that when including Paddy Power’s online operations in Australia, the company saw an increase in profits of 54% to €77m. Conversely, the article contends that Paddy Power’s land based bet shops are a passing relic of an old generation, essentially withering away, soon to be obsolete. The article contends that the combination of higher profits for the bookie and better odds for the punter means that the future of gambling is going to be online; and that Paddy Power would be best served to try to convince their Irish and British retail customers to switch their business online.

It’s a sound argument, and the numbers makes sense, but obviously, it’s easier said than done. Without question, there’s a loyal contingent of retail clients and these betting shops make a killing from the slot machines they harbour. It’s not like these betting shops are hemorrhaging money, and as the article noted, the number of betting shops has decreased with many going out of business, which has actually served to increase Paddy’s Profits in that space.

I highly doubt this discussion is a new topic to the Paddy Power brass and CEO Patrick Kennedy. The company recorded record highs across the board in and growth in all divisions in its financial results. It certainly wasn’t missed that the company saw mobile turnover show a three-fold increase to €112m, with 31% of online customers also using mobile gaming. Smart money says they understand the direction the industry is heading.

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