There are similarities – uncomfortable ones – in the current spate of mergers, acquisitions and general polarising of major gambling companies, which are highlighted in a review of the trends by a Daily Telegraph article (September 9).
The mix of William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral, 888, GVC, Betfair, Paddy Power, Rank and others, featuring in successful and unsuccessful "marriages", is reminiscent of the scenario which is persistent much lower down the scales, admittedly, within the street market.
It is fortunate that the activity is largely confined to dog-eat-dog within the operating sphere, for the creativity/manufacturing sector (save perhaps 888) is largely not among those involved. But that is because there’s not a lot left.
And it is clear that it is inspired by a succession of fiscal and regulatory factors, which in itself might not be a bad thing, some might argue. After all, some kind of streamlining and tidying up of the entire sector is not without its attractions.
The same can be said of the street market, where ailing operations – usually rendered so, historically, by downright bad commercial decisions, rather than government-inspired slings and arrows – has led to a severe polarising of the sector.
You might ask, what’s left to be picked up? Take the big betting industry out of the equation, where clearly there are opportunities but in the £/€/$1bn-plus bracket, and it is really bits and pieces; smaller operations and a few lesser manufacturers and bijou development companies, which may fall prey to larger brethren seeking acquisitional, rather than organic, growth.
It is interesting that nowhere in the above do I mention a specific country that might form the geographical base for the musing. That’s deliberate. Take the conclusions and apply them to just about anywhere in Europe and the reader might discover that the cap fits.