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Betting


New independent drawing them in


A new bookmaker in the North East is using bonuses and enhanced payouts to attract customers through its doors. Simon Banks reports.


JUST A BET N


ew Sunderland- based independent Just A Bet is about to open its fifth shop, a rare example of a


smaller operator looking to expand while many are strug- gling with increasing costs. The company opened its first shop at East Shore Village, Seaham in September 2009 and had planned to increase its estate by two shops a year, but when the opportunity arose to acquire three Pagebet shops as that company went into administra- tion its expansion plans were accelerated.


The three shops at Shiney


Row, Crook and Tanfield Lea have been rebranded in the style of the Seaham shop and the deal secured the jobs of 15 Pagebet staff, taking the Just A Bet work- force to 20. A fifth shop in Chop- well will open this month and the company is anticipating group turnover of £4.5m next year.


Area manager Richard Duffy told Betting Business Interac- tive that the company’s market- ing strategy was based on attracting customers though special offers and then cross selling to them higher margin products. He explained: “We offer five times the odds on single winner in a Lucky 15, 31 or 63, guaranteed odds and no 5p or 10p Rule 4 deductions, but our biggest special is to pay £701 on three numbers on the Irish lottery whereas the competition generally pays £575.”


It appears this approach is paying dividends as Duffy revealed that one of the book- maker’s shops now takes £3,000 of Irish Lottery bets a week.


Just A Bet is to open its fifth shop in Chopwell


“Obviously, those terms affect our margin but we market the bet through the local media and our staff are trained to cross sell other products. The Irish Lottery bet is particularly popular with female customers so the staff will point out to them something like 49s or a promotion on the gaming machines.”


Another local marketing ini- tiative is the company’s sponsor- ship of local Olympic super middleweight boxing medallist Tony ‘Jaffa’ Jefferies, who will be in the shops promoting com- petitions for punters to win tickets to his forthcoming fights. Duffy acknowledged that the current economic climate is challenging but is confident of the future. He said: “If we can make a living now then hope- fully we will do very well when people have a little more money in their pockets.”


ANALYSIS


THERE MIGHT BE LIFE FOR SMALL OPERATORS YET, ALTHOUGH THEY SEEM DESTINED TO STAY SMALLER OPERATORS GIVEN THE LARGE JUMPS IN THE GAMBLING COMMISSION FEE BANDS ARTIFICIALLY CONSTRAINING ENTERPRISE AT THE LOWEST LEVEL. GIVEN THAT THE MUCH MISSED DEMANDS TEST WAS REMOVED (WITH MASSIVE CONSEQUENCES FOR INDEPENDENT BOOKMAKERS) ON SIR ALAN BUDD’S SAY SO TO ALLOW MARKET FORCES TO DETERMINE THE SIZE OF THE LBO SECTOR, IT SEEMS ODD THAT THE REGULATOR’S ACTIONS ARE GOING AGAINST THIS FREE MARKET APPROACH FOR BETTING SHOP OPERATORS NOT OF A CERTAIN SCALE.


He explained that the company is highly conscious of the importance of controlling costs when competition reduces margins. Compliance costs are also informing Just A Bet’s expansion strategy with the target of opening three or four shops a year over the next few years until it reaches the 15 shop licence band ceiling. It is on the look out for suitable premises in the Sunderland, Durham and Newcastle areas.


All Just A Bet shops have the full suite of SIS, Turf TV and Sky with Global Draw machines. The first shop in Seaham was installed with Alphameric EPOS technology but the shops acquired from Pagebet came with Finsoft and that will be used in the new Chopwell shop.


Capital Spreads looking abroad


LCG L


ondon Capital Group, which owns the financial spread company Capital


Spreads, has announced a 12 per cent increase in pre- adjusted pretax profits to £4.21m for the first six months of this year. However, the costs of migrating its UK spread betting business onto one platform and closure of the LCG Digital unit caused an impairment of £3.2m and saw actual pretax profits fall by 74 per cent and led the company to cut its interim dividend by 60 per cent to 1p a share. The company benefitted from an increase in market volatility with a 61 per cent increase in revenues to £29m. LCG earned 77 per cent of


its revenues from the UK market via Capital Spreads and has plans to expand over- seas and has diversified into offering contracts for differ- ence (CfD). The company has opened its first office outside the UK in Australia and plans to expand into the Middle and Far East.


Chief executive Simon Denham said: “I am pleased to report that the group enjoyed better trading condi- tions in the first half of 2010 and it was a period of signifi- cant developments for LCG. The continued growth in our core business as well as the launch of our CFD platforms gives us many reasons to be optimistic. Whilst we are mindful of the economic climate, we are confident that our new product offerings will place LCG in a strong position for the longer term.” LCG has posted two profit


warnings in 2009 and saw its share fall from high of 215p in September to 113p in Decem- ber. The shares lost 3p after the interim results announce- ment and settled to 117p.


Cottage concession sees Bodog enter retail arena O


BODOG


nline operator Bodog has moved into the retail sector as a result of its deal with Fulham Football Club to become its official betting partner. The company has taken over from Ladbrokes in running the betting concessions at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground and it is the first time that Bodog has operated in a land-based capacity.


Bodog Europe signed a deal to be official betting partner of Fulham Football Club last year which allowed for an online pres- ence on the club’s website and


some perimeter boards during home matches, and has now gone on to provide cash betting at the ground for all home games this season.


Bodog Europe CEO Patrik Selin commented: “The Bodog brand has been taking online bets for 15 years but this is the first time any licensee has offered the service beyond the internet. We will continue to have a presence at Craven Cottage for all Fulham’s home matches but will also look to develop the concept at our


06 BettingBusinessInteractive • SEPTEMBER 2010


upcoming sponsorships beyond football in the very near future.” Bodog has five booths at Fulham’s historic stadium, far more than Ladbrokes had previ- ously operated, as well as roaming staff taking bets in the corporate areas. The new service was launched at Fulham’s first home game of the Premier League season - a 2-2 draw against Manchester United. Anyone betting at Craven Cottage with Bodog currently has to retrieve any winnings online by setting up an account


with the operator, however, the firm is striving to make sure cus- tomers are paid promptly. Spokesman Ed Pownall explained: “The uploading of winning bets on our server, auto- mated reaction to each claim and speed of deposit by the brand mean accounts should be cred- ited within hours. We have already had cases of fans being paid within two hours of full time.”


One of the new Bodog booths at Fulham’s Craven Cottage


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