A month after it was reported that Rank Group was in advanced talks with Betfair Group plc on a deal that would see the latter acquire online bookmaker Blue Square Bet, that deal has apparently been consummated for a fee of £5 million.
Beginning today, April 2, members and visitors of Blue Square will be redirected to Betfair’s website where its business as usual. As an added bonus, player accounts that were migrated to Betfair will receive a promotional welcome offer to, well, welcome them to their new betting home.
Word of Rank’s interest in selling Blue Square first made the news in January of this year when it it was thinking of a possible sale of the poor performing online bookmaker. Rank has owned Blue Square for close to ten years after purchasing it in 2003 for a sum of £63 million.
The staggering decline in price of Blue Square from when Rank purchased it a decade ago to the amount Betfair is reportedly paying today clearly shows just how much of a problem the online bookmaker has become to Rank. But while the reported sum does sound like a pittance compared to what Rank paid for in 2003, sources told eGR last month that the purchase amount could go up to £35 million if Blue Square were to meet a number of performance benchmarks. It’s still a long ways from £63 million, but on the flip side, it’s a lot more justifiable for Rank than to just let it go £5 million.
Now that Betfair has acquired “certain assets, including the customer database” of Blue Square, the former is looking to build the brand in line with its strategy of “focusing on regulated markets and growing its sportsbook and gaming operations alongside the exchange”. With a strong performance from its fixed-odds sports books, it’s only prudent for Betfair to merge the two to create one stand-alone fixed-odds brand that would service the market.