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Tabcorp profits hit by Sun Bets launch

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The launch of Sun Bets, the joint venture between Tabcorp and the publisher of The Sun, has been blamed in part for Tabcorp's profits falling in the first half of their financial year.

Net profit after tax of A$58.9 million (approx £32.25m) was down 28.1 per cent according to results released last week.

Sun Bets, which was launched in August 2016, recorded an Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) loss of A$21.3m and is expected to produce a further loss of approximately A$15m in the second half of the year.  

Customer acquisitions had grown to 85,000 at the end of 2016, while Sun Bets revenues' were A$1.5m.

Tabcorp have also had to shoulder costs from their proposed merger with Tatts Group and legal costs having been accused of failing to comply with Australian anti-money laundering regulations.

Tabcorp chief executive David Attenborough said: "All three Tabcorp businesses grew revenues in the half. Statutory net profit after tax, however, was impacted by a number of significant items including costs relating to our proposed combination with Tatts Group and the AUSTRAC civil proceedings, as well as start-up results for the new UK business, Sun Bets."

Meanwhile, Kenny Alexander, the chief executive of GVC Holdings, last week did not rule out the company being involved in more industry deals.

GVC completed the purchase of last year and have also been linked to deals with William Hill and Ladbrokes-Coral in recent months.

In a trading update in which GVC said they expected revenues for 2016 to be at the top end of the estimated range, Alexander said: "We are excited about the organic opportunities for the group in 2017 and beyond, but also remain alive to further industry consolidation."

Online gaming company and prominent British horseracing sponsor 32Red announced record net gaming revenues in a trading update last week. Trading in 2017 had also been strong with revenues for the first 30 days of January up 21 per cent on the corresponding period in 2016.

Net gaming revenues in 2016 rose 28 per cent to £62.3 million in 2016, which the company said was down to organic growth in the core 32Red business and a full-year contribution from the Roxy Palace business acquired in July 2015.

Chief executive Ed Ware said: "We have continued to deliver progress against our clear growth strategy underpinned by the strength of the 32Red brand, effective return on investment-driven marketing and an enhanced customer proposition.

"The key strategically important contracts signed during the second half of 2016 will help the company to deliver its stated growth strategy and the board remains confident of delivering continued progress in 2017."

The company said its preliminary results for 2016 would be announced on March 9.

ABB says report supports stakes stance

Representatives of the betting industry have claimed a new university report shows lowering the maximum stake on gaming machines would not reduce problem gambling.

The FOBTs in British Betting Shops report, commissioned by the GambleAware charity and carried out by professors at the University of Salford and University of Liverpool, examined the impact of new restrictions introduced in April 2015 which mean customers wishing to stake more than £50 are required to use loyalty cards or pay over the counter.  

The executive summary of the study said that nudging players to lower stakes could encourage riskier play, saying: "This could increase harm."

It added: "Generally, our findings do not support the proposition that nudging players towards lower stakes mitigated harm or made play more responsible."

The report said the £50 regulations could be regarded as "an experiment" in lowering the maximum stake on gaming machines and that although the changes might be seen as being ineffective that did not "necessarily imply that a future reduction would fail to mitigate harm".

However, it added: "Nevertheless our findings indicate that it may be optimistic to focus just on one element in the choice architecture of players [the stake] while neglecting others [such as speed of play or mechanisms for paying]."

The Association of British Bookmakers claimed the report was a blow to the report published by MPs last week which called for the stakes on gaming machines to be cut to £2.

ABB chief executive Malcolm George said: "The findings of this independent report clearly conclude there is no evidence that cutting the maximum stake would reduce problem gambling.

"We have always said that the small number of MPs and others who have suggested lower FOBT limits should look at the evidence. People need to be aware that some of the measures put forward by the casino and arcade industries would do more harm than good.

"We continue to work with GambleAware and others to help the very small number of customers who have problems with their gambling."

GambleAware calls on support from sports bodies

Problem gambling charity GambleAware is encouraging organisations which profit from gambling, including sports bodies, to make a financial contribution to its work.

The call follows the recent publication by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) of its formal advice to the Gambling Commission on the level of funding required for research, education and treatment.  

Endorsing figures set out in GambleAware’s recently published five-year strategy, the RGSB said a minimum of £9.3 million will be required in 2017-18, excluding the costs of commissioning.

GambleAware, formerly known as the Responsible Gambling Trust, is reliant on donations from the gambling industry and raised £7.6m in 2015-16.

GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches said: "We encourage all those who profit from gambling to make a donation to support the vital work we fund. We ask for just 10p for every £100 of profit they make.

"This responsibility falls mainly on those who hold gambling licences, but we also look to professional sport, broadcasters and advertising industry to recognise their obligations to those who suffer harm related to gambling."

Under the terms of an agreement reached between the industry, the regulator and ministers in 2012, GambleAware was granted the responsibility of raising the funds required to deliver the National Responsible Gambling Strategy.

Ministers have relied upon the voluntary system but if it fails to generate sufficient funds, the Gambling Act 2005 allows for a levy to be imposed instead.

Asked how British racing reacted to calls for sports bodies to contribute to the problem gambling charity, BHA media manager Robin Mounsey said: "British racing, as an industry, is committed to supporting responsible gambling measures. We note the RGSB’s comments and await further detail regarding their proposals."

Tennis dominates reports of suspicious betting activity

Tennis dominated reports of suspicious betting activity made by ESSA, the international betting integrity body, in 2016.

From a total of 130 cases, 103 involved tennis and were reported to the Tennis Integrity Unit, with 16 cases in football being reported to the relevant governing body.

ESSA chairman Mike O’Kane said: "The figures show the dangers from the misuse of insider information and match-fixing persist for betting operators.

"As the sector’s representative body on betting integrity issues, ESSA continues to meet with key stakeholders to discuss practical and proportionate actions. We hold positions on a number of major betting policy working groups and match-fixing programmes to do just that."

ESSA holds positions on match-fixing policy forums at the European Commission, Council of Europe and the IOC.

O'Kane added: "As with previous years, we expect 2017 to entail challenges to the commercial activities of our sector.

"ESSA will continue to be an ardent and vocal supporter of responsible regulated operators and utilise our alert system to protect our growing list of members, consumers and sports from betting related corruption.

"We intend to progress a number of constructive actions in this area during 2017 and in particular work closer with sports governing bodies and rights holders on more collaborative relationships."

Ice opens

Ice, the world's premier betting and gaming B2B show, opens on Tuesday at London's ExCeL. Opening times are 10am–6pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and 10am-4pm on Thursday.

The Racing Post Cafe (S2 -230) has become the principal meeting spot for visitors. Thjey will include Rob Mabbett of Betfred, the reigning Racing Post/SIS Manager of the Year. He will be writing a daily piece about Ice on the Racing Post website

There will also be plenty of interest in the SIS stand  at S2-180 as it reflects the new company rebrand from Satellite Information Services to Sports Information Services.

Paul Rees, SIS head of  marketing, who led the initiative said: "We decided to retain the SIS acronym, but change the company name to better reflect our diversification strategy and broader product offer."

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Hayley Turner is also making a guest appearance on Tuesday from around 4pm on the GBI Racing stand S3-400.

The London Underground is running as normal this week after a planned strike was suspended. However, Custom House DLR station is shut so visitors have been asked to use the Royal Victoria stop (the stop before Custom House) which is 650 metres from ExCeL - a comfortable seven-minute walk.

Visitors wishing to secure their place at the show should visit

Tabcorp have also had to shoulder costs from their proposed merger with Tatts Group and legal costs having been accused of failing to comply with Australian anti-money laundering regulations
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