OFT OKs Sale of 25 Betting Shops by Betfred to Stan James
The OFT has accepted undertakings from Lightcatch Limited, the parent company of Done Brothers (Cash Betting) Limited, trading as Betfred, to divest a betting shop in each of 25 local areas to resolve competition concerns raised by its completed acquisition of the Tote.
As a result, the acquisition will not be referred to the Competition Commission.
The OFT found that the acquisition did not give rise to competition concerns at a national level, but that there was a realistic prospect that it would result in a substantial lessening of competition between betting shops in 25 local areas across the UK.
As Betfred offered divestments in each of these areas, the OFT announced that it was suspending its duty to refer the acquisition to the Competition Commission because it was considering whether to accept undertakings in lieu of a reference.
Under the terms of the undertakings, Betfred will sell the betting shops to Stan James (Abingdon) Limited. Before accepting the undertakings, the OFT carefully assessed and consulted publicly on the undertaking proposals, including on the suitability of Stan James as a purchaser.
Total betting shop turnover was around £2.7 billion in 2010 according to the Gambling Commission’s figures on gross gambling yield in betting shops, which is the amount retained by bookmakers after the payment of winnings but before the deduction of the costs of the operation.
Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director and Decision Maker in this case, said: “The OFT was concerned that Betfred’s acquisition of the Tote led to the elimination of, or a substantial lessening in, choice of betting shops for people in 25 local areas. The OFT believes that the sales to Stan James in each of these areas will ensure effective competition is restored in these areas.”