Leading game designer, the Malta-based NetEnt, has signed a deal with Irish bookmaker Paddy Power to provide games in their 339 land-based betting shops in the UK.
This is the second retail deal NetEnt has signed in the UK Licensed Betting Office (LBO) market, having signed an agreement with the Rank Group in June of this year.
Speaking of the deal, Enrico Bradamante, Chief of European Market Operations and MD of NetEnt Malta Ltd, said, “I am very pleased that we are extending our partnership with Paddy Power to include distribution to gaming machines in their betting shops. I am confident that their players will enjoy our thrilling, award-winning games.”
The opportunity for NetEnt is enormous, as Paddy Power has over 1,300 gaming machines in the UK.
But the move is also an expansion by NetEnt into a sector of the UK gaming industry that is increasingly under siege. The UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Karen Bradley, criticised the broader UK gambling industry before the Culture select committee in late October, but it is the supposedly addictive nature of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in the LBO market that is increasingly drawing fire.
Likened to crack cocaine, FOBTs have also drawn fire from the Labour opposition, giving the industry few friends in the Commons. Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson recently said, “The Government has finally woken up to the fact that it has not done enough to curtail the proliferation of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, which are now a blight on many of our high streets.
“All the available evidence suggests these machines are highly addictive. That is why Labour wants to see the minimum stake reduce from £100 to £2.
“They can cause real and lasting damage to gamblers and they have become a huge problem for communities that are often struggling to cope with under-investment and high unemployment.”
With an increasingly puritanical government, thanks to policy changes brought in by new Prime Minister Theresa May, and no one to take up their cause among opposing parties, the fate of LBO gaming terminals has to be in serious doubt in the medium to long term. NetEnt’s move will boost their immediate profits, but it may not be too long before they retreat to their traditional online market where the biggest headache is deciding whether to give away a free bet no deposit offer or not.
But for now it is undoubtedly good news, and a welcome distraction for Paddy Power after their recent record losses in US Presidential Election betting.