Business Irish

Thursday 21 June 2018

Boylesports placing bet on FOBT fallout for UK bookies

Fixed odds betting terminals face crackdown
Fixed odds betting terminals face crackdown
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

A review of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in the UK has really unnerved the gambling giants in the UK, Paddy Power Betfair among them. The machines have been likened to crack cocaine for problem gamblers and there will inevitably be restrictions on them. A story that appeared last month suggesting that a reduction of the maximum bet to £2 was on the cards really upset the industry. The review is looking at changing the current regime which allows gamblers to place bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds, to between £50 and £2. Last year analysts at Barclays forecast that a reduction to £2 would cost Paddy Power Betfair £60m, while Ladbrokes and William Hill would lose significantly more.

The rumours caused the share prices to fall, although they have recovered since then. However, it is an ill wind which doesn't bring good luck to someone and the latest developments might provide an opportunity for Boylesports. Founder John Boyle has long harboured ambitions to enter the UK. Over a decade ago the company almost bought the Tote and unsuccessfully tabled a €120m bid for 360 bookmakers being sold as a result of the merger of Ladbrokes and Coral in 2016.

However, I understand that the Irish group - whose model does not depend on FOBTs - will wait to see how the new limits affect British bookies - and is betting that it will pick up a few bargains when the fallout is apparent.

C&C's latest US turn with Pabst leaves bitter taste

What is C&C going to do with its US business? Last week it ended a relationship with Pabst, a company which had enjoyed a blast of success with the promotion of alcoholic root beer. Back in 2015, when the marketing and distribution deal was struck, it hoped its dynamic approach could inject some much needed fizz into Woodchuck Cider, the main product owned by C&C's subsidiary Vermont Hard Cider Company. So exciting was the link-up, that there was even an option for Pabst to buy out the cider business.

However, Pabst has been having its own challenges. The craft beer movement has gone flat over the past 12 months in the US and drinkers are returning to more mainstream options. Large drinks companies here much be counting down the days for Ireland to follow this trend. For C&C, it must surely consider calling time on its ill-fated and expensive ($305m) US adventure. After all it only contributes 1pc to operating profits.

No half measures as Ashford Castle gets Midleton top tipple

Ashford Castle continues to mark itself as a luxury hotel offering experiences that other five-star hotels just can't rival. In its latest initiative, it hopes to tap into the Irish whiskey boom with some very fancy - and pricey - whiskey.

It has partnered with Midleton Whiskey to launch a 'bespoke cask' of Midleton Very Rare Whiskey specifically for the hotel. A cask equates to around 200 bottles which will be served exclusively at the hotel bar or available to buy there by the bottle.

There is no indication of price but Midleton Very Rare, often listed as one of Ireland's rarest and finest whiskeys, sells for well over €150 a bottle and no doubt the Ashford cask will have a premium all of its own.

And just to appeal to the wealthiest of whiskey aficionados, special Waterford Crystal tumblers and carafes have also been commissioned to accompany the special edition.

All in all, this is a reminder that the Tollman family, who spent $75m (€61m) restoring the castle, don't do things by half measures.

Sunday Indo Business

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