Paddy Power-Betfair eyeing further US acquisitions

Paddy Power-Betfair is looking to grow further in the US, via acquisition, depending on how much the largely unregulated market further opens up and the level of opportunity that presents itself.

The group already controls nearly 40% of the regulated online betting market in the US, via its TVG website and owns an online casino business in New Jersey. Earlier this month it bought New York-based specialist betting firm Draft for an initial $19m (€17m) but a potential $44m in full, depending on how the business performs over the next four years. Draft is part of the rapidly growing ‘fantasy sports’ market, where punters can bet online on virtual sports results.

Speaking to reporters after its agm in Dublin, Paddy Power-Betfair chief executive Breon Corcoran said while the addition of Draft will offer internationalisation opportunities in the longer-term, the short-to-medium term is all about taking market share in the US. To that end, Paddy Power-Betfair would be looking for at least a double-digit percentage share of the $300m American fantasy sports market.

“I’d hope we could do more there [the US], but it’s a question of legislation and opportunity. There is a lot of appetite to do more if the opportunity comes up at the right price,” Mr Corcoran said.

He said he remains very happy with the performance of the business since Paddy Power merged with Betfair last year, adding that it remains advantageous to be a big player in a European market where competition is intensifying and threatening the future of smaller operators.

Regarding potential UK regulatory changes for the operation of in-shop betting machines — or fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) —Mr Corcoran said he is content, but called for “a level playing field” where the same rules apply to all players in the market. FOBTs — which allow consumers to bet on the likes of roulette, bingo, virtual racing and various slot machine games — are a major generator of retail revenue for UK-based betting firms. New legislation could limit the number of machines bookies have in their shops and/or the amount of money punters can spend on them.


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