The angst among operators about the forthcoming overhaul of the UK tax and regulatory regime was made crystal clear by 888 chief executive Bryan Mattingley in a conference call following publication of the company’s first quarter results last Thursday.
Mattingley is not normally one to mince his words but dealing with regulators is a delicate business. So when he said that he found it “quite difficult” dealing with the UK Gambling Commission (in comparison to regulators in Nevada, New Jersey and elsewhere), it can probably be taken as read that he was delivering his words with a healthy dose of understatement.
Questions about the incoming Point of Consumption tax were high on the agenda of City analysts throughout the annual results reporting period. Paddy Power said it will cut marketing costs and renegotiate lower revenue share deals with affiliates as it looks to mitigate the impact of the change. William Hill said it would cut £15-20m in costs while increasing market share due to all the smaller operators fleeing the market. Both were common sense responses aimed at pleasing worried investors but cutting costs while increasing market share would be a tricky stunt to pull off.
Betfair was more circumspect...