Betfair attracts new customers with fixed odds

BETFAIR said yesterday that its new range of simpler products were increasing customer numbers, despite posting pre-tax losses of £49m, down from a profit of £54.2m the previous year.

The online gambling company, which allows gamblers to bet against each other through a process known as exchange betting, rejected a £1bn takeover offer from private equity firm CVC in April.

Last year, the company introduced more conventional fixed-odds betting in a bid to cater to a wider audience and compete more directly with other bookmakers, such as William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Breon Corcoran, who took over as chief executive last year after leaving Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, said: “We remain pleased with the operational trends we are seeing.”

However, he said that it was still “early days” for Betfair’s latest move.

“At its core, Betfair is an exchange,” he said. “What we’re doing now is giving customers what they get elsewhere, but with us they also get the exchange.”

Following the launch of the simplified betting service, Betfair’s customers in Britain and Ireland increased, rising by 18 per cent over the last seven months.

A Betfair spokesperson told City A.M. that the company had saved £30m over the last year by restructuring and ceasing market investment in countries with an unsustainable regulatory outlook.

Shares in Betfair closed up 1.57 per cent yesterday at 843p, valuing the company at around £866m.