Victor Chandler expands into Irish market

THE British bookmaker Victor Chandler plans to expand into Ireland with the launch of several shops in addition to a dedicated betting website for Irish punters.

The bookmaker says it is looking for a flagship shop in Dublin city centre, possibly in the financial district, and will open several more over the next two years with expansion into Irish other cities.

Victor Chandler said it is not preparing to take on Irish bookies head-to-head by opening a hundred shops, but would compete for a strong retail presence here backed up by online and telephone betting.

It said its betting shops will have comfortable furnishings to target young and affluent customers.

The move is part of a multi-million expansion into Ireland for the bookmaker, which made the unprecedented step in 1999 of moving its entire operation to Gibraltar and introducing tax free betting.

The company has launched a dedicated Irish betting site and says it has thousands of customers already registered to its main website. It has developed a number of products for the Irish site, including betting on GAA and early prices for racing on Irish courses.

Ian Marmion, the head of Victor Chandler Ireland, said yesterday it will also offer an online casino and poker website for Irish customers.

He said the move into Ireland was logical as the gambling market here was growing at a healthy rate. It estimates the Irish off-course betting market is worth €2 billion a year and it hopes to corner 15% of the online and telebetting market.

Mr Marmion said the company was also on the look-out for a pitch at Irish racecourses and will sponsor a number of races, beginning with a €60,000 listed race at Naas today and a full card at Fairyhouse next week.

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