Deregulation no comfort to bookmakers, report claims

Deregulation in the bookmaking industry will not offset the damage inflicted by scratchcard games on its turnover, according to a report by Natwest Securities.

The launch of National Lottery scratchcard games in mid-March has reduced turnover by bookmakers such as Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill, by up to eight per cent, the report claims. And worse is to come with further game launches.

Bookmakers managed to withstand the introduction of the weekly on-line lottery game “reasonably well”. But analyst Mark Finnie says: “The prospect of instant gratification offered by the cards is clearly far more akin to the exercise of placing a bet with a bookmaker.”

He refers to the overall fall in turnover of 4.5 per cent at bookmaker William Hill as “a trend which has accelerated since the introduction of scratchcards”.

Finnie doubts that deregulatory measures, such as the opening of shop windows, the use of larger TV screens and Sunday betting, will have a material effect on the bottom line.

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