Tag Archive : shops

UK gambling consultant predicts 50% drop in betting shops post-COVID

Gambling consultant Steve Donoughue believes UK retail sports betting will see a lasting impact after the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Speaking with Gambling Insider for the May/June edition of its magazine, Donoughue explained that while all changes in betting behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic had the potential to be permanent, the shift away from customers physically visiting betting shops could have a lasting impact for retail-reliant operators.

He said: “Land-based is going to suffer as people will switch to online and may never return.

“Land-based depends on people making a visit to their venue as part of their regular schedule. Once that stops being regular, things will change.”

When asked if retail sports betting had the potential to recover post-COVID, Donoughue said he thinks this is doubtful.

He explained: “I can’t see it going back to the way it was. There will always be a market for retail sports betting. But will it be one that is sufficient for the number of shops we have now? I doubt it.

“I predict a 50% drop over the next few years.”

Despite this outlook, Donoughue had some inspirational advice for sports betting operators in the UK.

“Keep your nerve,” Donoughue urged. “We will get through this. Sport will return.

“Be innovative but don’t be greedy or desperate as the Government is waiting to pounce.”

The full feature will appear in the May/Jun edition of Gambling Insider magazine. Click here to read when available. 

UK Shuts Down Betting Shops as It Seeks to Contain Covid-19 Spread

Gambling operators were ordered to shut down their betting shops around the UK as the country tightened social distancing restrictions in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.

Betting shops were part of the group of the non-essential businesses that were asked not to reopen Saturday morning alongside cafes, pubs, leisure centers, cinemas, and museums as the UK grapples to curb the advance of the coronavirus.

Betting shops around the UK are going dark as the dangerous virus that has gripped the world and dominates headlines has resulted in the postponement/cancellation of major sporting events, including Euro 2020 which is now set to take place in the summer of 2021.

Gambling companies running betting shops fear that the shutdown could last for up to two months. That paired with the fact that there are almost no sporting events bettors can place a punt on will come as a big hit to operators’ financial accounts at the end of the year.

William Hill announced earlier this week that it would suspend dividend as part of the measures it intends to take to mitigate the Covid-19 impact on its full-year EBITDA. The company said that it expects its group EBITDA to slump by £100-£110 million if horse racing kept going and betting shops remained open, and by an additional £25-£30 million per month if it was ordered to close its shops.

GVC, which operates the largest chain of betting shops in the UK, said that it estimates group EBITDA to be reduced by £130-£150 million, should betting shops remain open, and by an additional £45-£50 million per month if shops were ordered to close.

Bookmakers Welcome Closure

In response to the order to close its betting shops, GVC said Friday that it was “very welcome to now have clarity and reassurance from the government on this serious matter, as the safety and well-being of our colleagues and customers is of paramount importance.”

Irish gambling group Flutter Entertainment was the first bookmaker to announce the closure of its 350 betting shops around the country on Friday in response to the global coronavirus crisis.

The company, which runs Paddy Power-branded betting shops, said in a Friday statement that its facilities will remain closed until at least the end of April “to protect our retail employees and customers.”

The company added that “there is nothing more important than the safety and well-being of our colleagues and the public during this pandemic.” Flutter updated the market earlier this week, saying that it expects full-year EBITDA to fall by at least £90-£100 million and an additional £30 million per month should its betting shops close.

It also emerged this week that the Republic of Ireland is closing its betting shops, as well, to help contain the spread of the deadly virus. Facilities owned by Flutter and BoyleSports, among other bookmakers, will remain shuttered for at least two weeks.

Source: All UK betting shops to close as part of mass shutdown of premises

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Coronavirus Shuts Snaitech Betting Shops across Italy

Playtech closed all its Snaitech betting shops around Italy as the country grapples to contain the spread of Covid-19 as deaths continue to rise.

The Italian government issued a decree this past Sunday that all brick-and-mortar gambling facilities, including betting shops, arcades, and bingo halls, across the country should close and remain closed until April 3.

The closure of betting facilities comes as part of a large set of emergency coronavirus measures implemented by the Italian government, which also include a ban on all public gatherings across all 20 Italian regions and severe travel restrictions.

The country’s death toll rocketed from 366 to 463 on Monday while the number of confirmed cases stood at 9,172, making Italy the worst-affected country after China where the virus is believed to originate.

Playech’s Snaitech unit is Italy’s biggest sports betting operator. The company said Monday that its online gambling activity would continue and “may prove to mitigate some of the impact.”

Playtech also noted that “an increase in market volatility has led to a very strong performance within TradeTech year-to-date.”

The gambling technology giant said that it would continue to “monitor the situation closely” and would provide updates accordingly.

Warning over 2020 Results

Playtech warned investors last month that the coronavirus outbreak could hurt its yearly results. The company’s profits fell last year, as well. It blamed the decline on “the impairment of intangible assets of the Markets and Alpha cash generating units, amounting to €90.1 million.”

Of its Italian B2C business, Playtech said last month that it initially started strong. However, the firm noted that the strong performance in the first weeks of 2020 could be affected by the spread of Covid-19 in Italy.

Playtech told investors in late February that:

[…]in the last two weeks it has started to see a material impact from changes in normal customer patterns due to COVID-19 which is significantly affecting two of its largest markets. Accordingly, results for 2020 are likely to be below existing market expectations”.

Playtech’s Italian arm gained quite some momentum last year. On Snaitech’s 2019 performance, Playtech Chairman Alan Jackson said that the betting operator “had a fantastic 2019” and that it reached the “number one market share position” for online sports betting and gaming in Italy in the second quarter of the year.

Snaitech became part of the larger Playtech group in the spring of 2018 when the gambling technology provider announced that it had agreed to purchase a 70.6% stake in the Italian betting and gaming firm for €291 million.

Snaitech offers retail betting, online sports betting, and online casino games in Italy, but is also involved in racetrack management and television services. Playtech bought the Italian operator as it sought to source most of its revenue from regulated markets.

Source: Playtech closes Snaitech betting shops in Italy amid Covid-19 spread

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We’ve benefited from competitors closing UK shops

Following another financial report that was met with positivity by analysts, GVC Holdings CEO Kenny Alexander spoke to Gambling Insider about share prices, the UK market and German gaming regulation.

Do you think GVC’s performance can translate more into your share price going up in 2020?

We think so and we hope so. We’ve had a good run in the second half of 2019 in terms of share price, too. But the markets at the moment are just dire. I said last week ignore the share price the day the results come out because it really depends on whatever headlines that come out around the coronavirus. Flybe’s gone bust, for example, there are coronavirus-related headlines and the markets are in shock.

With GVC closing half the number of UK shops initially expected, where does that leave your focus on retail? Is there now a more optimistic outlook long term?

We closed down proportionately less shops than William Hill. I think we closed down 13% of our estate, whereas they closed down 33-35% of their estate. When we noticed they were going to start shutting shops quickly, we held back and I think we’ve benefited.

I’ll give you my conclusion on the future of retail. It is what it is; it’s going to be steadier now we’ve had the Triennial Review. There’s possibly a small amount of growth in it – flattish. It generates over £100m ($129.6m) in cash flow, which is meaningful for the group. Also – we talk about this, whether people listen or not – it’s fairly important for our digital business in the UK, in terms of omni-channel. About 17% of our UK business with Ladbrokes Coral comes from customers who converted from retail.

Those conversion ratios are continuing, so it generates a lot of cash and is important for our digital strategy in the UK. And it’s more profitable now than we expected it to be 12 months ago, as a result of our competitors shutting many more shops than we anticipated and us holding off. If there are three shops on a street and one of them is shut, the people in that shop are going to continue betting and go to another shop. We’ve hung around longer and reaped the benefit of it.

In terms of the online market, we spoke with William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson last week and he felt there will be “a sensible and evidence-based” review of the Gambling Act. Is this a sentiment you share?

Yeah, I do, I think he’s right. I hope he’s right. People are realising that, if you take any blunt actions or draconian action, you’re going to drive players to the black market. Potentially vulnerable players are not going to be protected like they would be at GVC (Ladbrokes Coral), William Hill or wherever else. This activity certainly won’t be taxed, either, and more importantly, problem gambling won’t be reduced. You do need to be careful when making the right changes. If you make the wrong changes, you drive people to the black market – but I think people are realising that and I agree with Ulrik. I’m not as pessimistic about a review of the Gambling Act as I was when I first heard about it.

Analysts have spoken of German regulation moving in the right direction being a positive for GVC. What impact are you expecting the impending regulation to have for GVC-owned Bwin?

The German regulatory environment changes on almost a daily, certainly a weekly, basis. It’s a continually moving piece. I think there will be sports betting licenses and there will be some restrictions on the offering – not quite as bad as some people are expecting. We’ll be able to offer a licensed casino for the first time; not quite the offering we have at the moment but we’ll at least be offering it.

There is likely to be an EBITDA hit for Bwin but you will then get clarity on it; it is the number-one brand in Germany and we will look to absorb and kick on. If you want to talk about share price, I think the share price would react very positively to taking a hit on EBITDA in Germany while having clarity and some sort of fully regulated sports betting and gaming environment. I think it would be positive for us but if you ask me for hard numbers, there’s still too much uncertainty for me to give you those numbers.

To hear what Alexander had to tell us about GVC’s US aspirations, visit Gaming America.

First Alaska retail pot shops get OK to allow on-site use

JUNEAU, Alaska — The first marijuana shops in Alaska where customers can partake on-site have gotten approval, putting them on the leading edge nationally.

Visions for the spaces range from a living room feel to a brewery-style tasting room with a TV to watch football games.

Zoning and ventilation requirements and restrictions on smoking can limit the growth of so-called cannabis lounges or cafes in places that permit them, such as some cities in California, said Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.

Pot shops warned to watch out for ‘smurfs’ and ‘loopers’

Pot regulators are vowing to crack down on “loopers” and “smurfs” — slang for people who make make multiple purchases of weed products in one day at one store or many.

The state Cannabis Control Commission and state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said they are looking to create a task force to find ways to blunt the illegal activity.

A multi-agency illicit pot squad would clamp down on, among other things, people who go from dispensary to dispensary buying the maximum allowable amount of pot, with the intent of selling it illegally.

Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.

For drug-burdened neighborhoods, pot shops aren’t a blessing

I am all for equity in the marijuana business and opportunities for communities of color. I congratulate new pot shop owners Kobie Evans of Dorchester and his business partner Kevin Hart on getting their license to open Boston’s first recreational marijuana shop, Pure Oasis, in the Grove Hall neighborhood.

I welcome business opportunities for folks of color because I know they don’t come easy. And these legal cannabis retail opportunities are a kind of compensation for the fact that minorities received particularly harsh sentencing for marijuana-related crimes before it was legal here. But like many of my neighbors, I am concerned about how a legal drug business opportunity  and a community hard hit by illegal drugs can co-exist.

Like many of my neighbors, I am concerned about the proliferation of pot shops here. At one time every open storefront from Roxbury to Mattapan was in consideration. Forget about how close they were to schools, or that many were not true minority-owned ventures. What we have here is a gold rush.

Read the rest of this story on BostonHerald.com.