Betfair sweeps up troubled Blue Square bookie from Rank Group

BETFAIR has bought Blue Square, the lossmaking online sports bookie owned by casino operator Rank Group, in a £5m deal.

The company said it would not continue to operate the Blue Square business, but had made the deal in order to gain access to the bookie’s 120,000 customers.

Under its new chief executive Breon Corcoran, Betfair is trying to encourage more punters to use its fixed odds betting service, which operates like a traditional bookie, rather than the core exchange business, in which people bet against each other with the company taking a cut of the winnings.

The online bookie has also bought Blue Square’s branding and operations, although the business itself will be shut down and customers will be relocated to Betfair. Blue Square saw its operating losses treble to £4.8m in the six months to January as revenue declined to £7.6m, although it retains a strong customer base.

“The acquisition is consistent with Betfair’s strategy of focusing on regulated markets and growing its sportsbook and gaming operations alongside the exchange,” the company said.

Rank, which is buying 19 casinos from Gala Coral, said the sale would allow it to focus on developing its Grosvenor Casino range as well as its Mecca Bingo business.