According to Paddy Power Betfair CEO Peter Jackson, the purpose behind the name change is to promote the "increased diversity" of the company’s offerings, which after a couple of recent acquisitions now number six — Paddy Power, Betfair, Sportsbet, FanDuel, TVG and Adjarabet. The name change will be proposed for shareholder approval at Paddy Power Betfair’s annual general meeting in May."With a growing portfolio of brands," Jackson said, "we plan to rename the Group as Flutter Entertainment plc. There are no plans to use this historical name for consumers, and we will seek shareholders permission for the change at our forthcoming AGM."
Jackson also claimed that the move to a new corporate name was imperative, though whether settling on the overly generic-sounding "Flutter" will bring long-term gains in the company’s corporate needs will take some time to prove out. At the very least, "Paddy Power Betfair" was more than a mouthful, and it was invariably shortened to Paddy or PPB in common use anyway. Besides, neither the Paddy Power nor Betfair brand name is disappearing; they’ll still be front and center in their favored markets.
It also turns out that the Flutter name isn’t exactly new; it dates all the way back to 2001, as part of an old corporate acquisition by Betfair. It’s been yanked out of the archives on the cheap, as Jackson noted, "It didn’t cost us anything with branding consultants." And who knows? If the name is warmly received, it could be slapped on a brand offering, somewhere down the road.
Yet the sniping over the proposed name change has already started. The Irish Times‘ Joe Brennan quickly slagged the proposal, stating, "The name Flutter Entertainment plc couldn’t be more tone deaf, at a time when the entire gambling industry is already suffering from an image problem." Brennan added, "For a company that spends millions on marketing and advertising every year, it might have been money well spent if it had brought in some experts."
Gambling marketing and advertising in the UK and Ireland has already entered a post-fun stage, and Brennan’s screed plays right into that. "The group’s planned new name, however, jars with that agenda," he concluded.
Yeah, whatever. If a company has to resort to such political mollycoddling over a corporate name not used directly with any brands, then the nanny-staters are pushing things too far. Meanwhile, Paddy (Power Betfair) has more serious concerns on its plate. For example, there’s the matter of the €55 million in back taxes claimed by Greece and the German state of Hesse. €15 million of that is claimed by Greece in connection with Paddy Power’s offering of services there in the years 2012-2014. The Hessian assessment is in connection with Betfair’s operations there in 2012 and earlier.
Both jurisdictions have included stretches of unclear and court-challenged regulatory oversight. PPB is appealing both assessments, though the company’s chances of prevailing are slim. Other operators face similar back-tax assessmentsSpeaking of strange sports-betting tales emanating from the United States, there’s the matter of the Sports Betting National Championship, a betting contest with a twist that DraftKings, the global market leader in daily fantasy sports (DFS), served up to its newly-opened market of sports bettors in the US state of New Jersey. This Sports Betting National Championship, or SNBC, ran from January 11-13 at DraftKings’ live-betting sportsbook outlets in New Jersey and was designed to merge traditional sports wagering with the contest aspect that defines DFS.
On paper, the idea seemed like a neat, new wrinkle to offer to dedicated sports-betting enthusiasts… noting that the entry fee for this contest was USD $10,000. (The SNBC guaranteed a $2.5 million prize pool and drew 192 well-bankrolled entrants.) However, as it turned out DraftKings turned out to be woefully unprepared and under-technologied to be able to make the thing work as imagined and promoted. The end result of this new contest may well be a hit of several million of those US dollars to DraftKings’ bottom line.The class-action lawsuit features prominent poker professional and high-stakes sports bettor Christopher Leong, and it alleges among its claims what everyone involved in the contest already knew: DraftKings did not grade wagers placed within the parameters of the contest on a timely or even basis, meaning that some contest participants were quickly able to turn around the proceeds of earlier bets and re-wager their contest funds, while others waited for an hour or two while their previous winning bets remained frozen and uncredited back to their contest bankrolls.
The whole thing came to a head during the last major sporting event included in the contest, a Sunday night (January 13) NFL playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints. Many contest participants were locked out of wagering on this game, but not all, and the entrant who had been in first place at the time, Rufus Peabody, was among those locked out. Unable to wager a chunk of his contest-leading bankroll, Peabody had to sit by and watch two other SBNC entrants pass him by with successful wagers on various lines offered during the game.
Peabody still officially took third in the SBNC, for $250,000, but that still pales in comparison to the $1,000,000 first prize he was effectively blocked from winning. Interestingly, Peabody had not at last report committed to joining the lawsuit, though it was among the options he was considering. However, lead plaintiff Leong (who did not earn a cash prize in the SBNC) is already supplemented by at least five additional SBNC participants and likely plaintiffs as this class action moves forward.
As it turned out — and as reviewed directly in the legal complaint by this SBO contributor — the problems with the contest stretched well past a poorly-leveled lockout and the randomly slow grading of earlier contest wagers. Though the contest was limited on its third and final day to board-based lines on the two prominent NFL playoff games, the first two days of the contest allowed participants to place wagers on any line or any event that DraftKings offered.