What the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair means

Lauren Shuckburgh

23 Sep 2015

Updated: 23 Nov 2023

No one trying to make money online could have possibly missed the recent announcement from two of the giants of the gambling industry, Paddy Power and Betfair, that they will merge - but what does it all mean for the average customer, as well as the sector as a whole?

It certainly isn't surprising news, given the consolidations that have been going on in the industry as of late, such as that between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral that will turn the resultant body into the UK's largest bookmaker. In the online market, however, it will now be Paddy Power Betfair - as it is set to be known - that will rule the roost, its 16% of the UK market edging the 14% that will be enjoyed by the merged Ladbrokes Coral group.

If anyone may have been surprised, though, it is probably Paddy Power's social media team, which had joked just a month earlier than the late August announcement that it was merging with Betfair to form a company called Betty Power. Alas, that is not the actual new name, and both brands have confirmed that they will remain separate - which might be just as well, given their very different natures on the surface.

Betfair, after all, has long attracted the more serious, sophisticated better, having been a key pioneer of exchange betting, whereby customers bet against each other. It only began offering fixed odds in 2013. In sharp contrast, Paddy Power is known for its irreverent, laddy humour, having courted controversy with a series of publicity stunts down the years - from a much complained-about advert featuring 'blind' footballers, to a tweet depicting a lorry at Dover bearing the words: "Immigrants, jump in the back! But only if you're good at sport."

Paddy Power's distinctive marketing approach has proved devastatingly effective, especially among casual betters, while Betfair's fortunes have much improved since the appointment of current chief executive and ex-chief operating officer at Paddy Power, Breon Corcoran, three years ago. Questions are therefore sure to be asked as to whether such a merger is the right move for both companies, instead of them simply pursuing their respective growth strategies.

Still, the two companies clearly feel that they have enough in common to make the new partnership work, in an increasingly online-oriented market necessitating greater technology expenditure, as such firms also come under greater tax and regulatory pressure.

What could it all mean for the average punter placing matched bets? If you are a Betfair customer, for instance, will sports betting become a greater focus, or will you be able to collect your winnings at any of Paddy Power's hundreds of retail shops - which are set to remain open? Will the brand experience of either entity be diluted, or will we barely notice the difference?

It all remains to be seen, but there's no question of right now being a very exciting time to make money from betting, both online and off.