independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Paddy Power is ready for move to online poker in US, says chief

CEO Patrick Kennedy of Paddy Power.

PADDY Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy insisted yesterday that the internet bookie is not in danger of being left behind in the United States as a number of states there move closer to legalising online poker.

Mr Kennedy said the bookie remains in discussions with a number of potential partners there. It's still awaiting approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission for a licence to supply and operate mobile betting equipment in the state, home to Las Vegas. The state is due to issue the first online poker licences next month.

But as other states including New Jersey and California mull legalising online poker, internet betting firms such as London-listed Bwin have been teaming up with casino giants including MGM Resorts in anticipation of new laws.

Platforms

Mr Kennedy conceded that companies such as Bwin and Gibraltar-headquartered 888.com have the technology platforms to provide online poker operations that Paddy Power doesn't possess.

"What we're showing potential partners is deep e-commerce expertise that other global companies don't have," said Mr Kennedy. "We know how to run, better than anyone, I would argue, an e-commerce business. So there are different parts to the value chain."

Importantly, Paddy Power could also benefit from an untarnished legal reputation. Some online poker operators have been previously been charged by the US Justice Department with illegally offering internet gambling to US-based citizens.

Mr Kennedy declined to name any of the potential partners. He was speaking after Paddy Power's annual general meeting in Dublin.

The company said yesterday that its total net revenue was 28pc higher in the year to date, with revenue from online services 31pc higher and turnover at its retail units up 26pc.

Online sales rose 37pc at Paddy Power's Australian operation and 28pc on its Paddypower.com website. In the UK, total like-for-like net revenue climbed 13pc, while in Ireland, the amounts staked fell 4pc but like-for-like net revenue rose 15pc.

The company is diverting more resources to growing its business. Mr Kennedy said it has been hiring 30 people a month for the past four months at its Dublin headquarters. The company's online service in Italy also went live this week following a soft launch.

Mr Kennedy brushed aside concerns about the health of the eurozone. He said with Italy, Paddy Power is taking a long-term view of the market there.

Shares in Paddy Power were trading as much as 2pc higher yesterday following its upbeat AGM statement.

Irish Independent

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