Saturday 23 September 2017

Betting world's latest Power couple odds-on to have their union approved

Betfair and Paddy Power are set to merge
Betfair and Paddy Power are set to merge

Niall Collins

Back in July, the talented social media team at Paddy Power tweeted 'Hot on the heels of the Ladbrokes/Coral merger, we can exclusively reveal that we have merged with Betfair. Our new name is Betty Power'. It was a joke, of course, but it was also a reflection on the frenetic pace of consolidation in the gambling sector. Consolidation comes amid taxation changes, the tightening of regulation in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and a drive to lower costs.

It is not a terribly long time ago that Betfair's founders, Andrew Black and Ed Wray, famously dressed as mourners, participated in a New Orleans-style funeral and ran a coffin through the City of London. The purpose was to announce Betfair to the world and to herald the 'death of traditional bookmaking'. However, the union between Paddy Power and Betfair finally puts the long-running debate on the death of traditional bookmaking to bed. Indeed, I think that debate ended when Betfair launched its Sportsbook offering (a traditional fixed-odds platform) in May 2012.

Although betting exchanges and traditional fixed-odds bookmaking are fundamentally different propositions, I expect the proposed Betfair/Paddy Power union to be a symbiotic one. The combination would enhance the online presence of Paddy Power and enable Betfair to further cater for its established customer base, who might bet elsewhere due to any Betfair inability to offer liquidity in some markets. Betfair has flourished where other betting exchanges have floundered due, in large part, to its ability to offer highly liquid markets. That is, broadly, a market with lots of money being matched within it and where you can get your bets matched quickly and at the prices you want.

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