9 March, 2022

Betting Shop Operator of the year

Gambling Insider previews the nominees for the Betting Shop Operator of The Year. Retail has made a successful execution from the remnants of last year, stepping back into the world of one of the most prestigious awards in the gaming industry.

Betting shops in the UK are an integral part of not only the British high street, but the betting business too. Worldwide retail took a sullen dip in revenue during the lengthy coronavirus lockdown procedures, but this year, it’s a new year to excel, and betting shop operators are on the road to rising success once more. Forget the roaring 20s, this is the boom of the betting operator.

Our first nominee is last year’s winner, Paddy Power, who launched Spotlight Sports content across its retail estate to further revamp its offering. The operator is also taking a proactive stance on regulation with its advertising in Ireland, as well as limiting monthly losses for under-25s. In June 2021, Flutter UK & Ireland’s Chairman and CEO spent days working at Paddy Power shops to support their retail colleagues.

A year on and FDJ takes its seat again at the shortlist table. The operator generated 9% year-on-year revenue growth, to €1.1bn ($1.3bn), as its properties recovered to levels “above those recorded before Covid-19” Regardless of the pandemic, 2021 also saw FDJ sign a number of new lottery partnerships
in Europe.

And while we’re talking Europe, what would this award be without William Hill? Following the takeover of William Hill US, the company has been successful in seeing its European assets sold to the mammoth 888 Holdings. In 2021, the operator emphasised its increased focus on responsible gambling and sustainability measures, opening for business in Colombia, as well as embarking on an “epic” new TV advertising campaign.

Leading operator in the Italian Market, Snaitech is up once more, regularly contributing to parent group Playtech’s financial results. Founded through the integration between Snai Spa and the Cogetech Group, the company’s overall betting network comprises over 1,584 points of sale, including three racetracks in Italy. In 2021, Snaitech took control of HAPPYBET, a betting operator with around 200 points of sale in Austria and Germany, and this year, paying tribute to its success, it’s up again for the award.

Boasting a strong franchise system in Austria, Tipico has continued to expand its global footprint. Headquartered in Malta, with over 1,200 betting shops and employees worldwide, the company has more than 6,000 people working for the franchise network in Germany and Austria. Tipico is additionally an official sponsor of the Bundesliga, having extended this agreement back in December 2020.

Given the restrictions put in place and the rocky road of recovery for many companies, Danske Spil has been nominated as one of those shortlisted for the 2022 Betting Shop Operator Award. In 2021, Danske Spil signed a number of new agreements, including with the likes of Playtech (virtual sports) and Push Gaming (iGaming). The state-owned Danish operator also published a Q3 report which showed a 3% year-on-year increase in gross gaming revenue, and an equal 3% rise in profit. The lottery side of the business posted revenue of DKK2.03bn ($350m), a 6% rise.

As one of the budding bidders of the fourth UK National Lottery licence, SAZKA Group reported a huge 200% year-on-year increase for its Q2 revenue - to €740.1m ($875.50m). Its Australian Lotteries, Czech Republic and Italian businesses have all continued to trade well. In 2021, the company also saw its physical retail properties and casinos in Greece and Austria operate without material restrictions, which is great news for them, and might put them in the top sport for the Award… who knows?

In an aim to “steadily rebuild”, Ladbrokes has aided its parent group, Entain, in recovering its retail revenue toward pre-Covid-19 levels. Ladbrokes also played a key role in boosting Entain’s Australian growth. Like many others in the UK, the operator also went big on a new advertising campaign during Euro 2020. The company tends to see a strong customer retention rate, which in fact continued even after the course of the pandemic, perhaps the loyal consumers of this client might be a reason to boost this operator to the top spot, only time will tell.

One nominee that wasn’t on last years shortlist but has sprung to the surface for the 2022 Award, is TAB. For the 12 months to 31 July, Tab NZ reported revenue of NZ$369.6m (US$259.6m), a 6% rise year-on-year. Tab’s operations in Australia also continue to impress, so much so they have generated M&A interest from the likes of Entain and Apollo.

Last but not least is Fortuna Entertainment Group, headquartered in the Netherlands, which have continued to grow in its sports betting subsidiaries across Central and Eastern Europe, throughout Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Romania.

This Award is extremely well-respected given the hardship and unfortunate events of the past few years, getting itself off the ground and working upwards can’t have been an easy task, but it was a task nonetheless, and an achievement to be proud of. With ten strong nominees this year proving to boast a unified success across the industry, it’s a hard guess who will triumph in winning this well-earned Award.  

The Betting Shop of the year award is sponsored by Smartico.

Smartico is a Gamification & Loyalty Suite platform with Real-Time CRM Automation capabilities. A true one-stop-shop that enables iGaming operators to drive customers engagement and increase revenue by providing personalized marketing and retention tools to communicate with their players via multi-channel engagement marketing platform.