Paddy Power should clean up its cheeky act
Outlook Paddy's Powering ahead. Profits might have only increased by 5 per cent last year, to €141m (£116m), compared with the double-digit leaps shareholders have come to expect from this thoroughbred of the betting industry.
But given the heavy going the bookie has been ploughing through – a punter-friendly set of sports results plus a big investment in Italy that will only start paying off next year – that's very creditable. Compared with some rivals, it's in Gold Cup winning form.
The worry for investors, however, is that regulation could make the going tough for some time and Paddy's love of stirring up controversy may contribute to this.
Some of the bookie's previous stunts have been witty, with well-chosen targets. The sponsoring of a sports event in the French village of London, so the company could advertise itself as "the official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year" during the 2012 Olympics caused a chuckle.
But offering bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, advertised with an Oscar statue touting a money-back offer if he walks, goes way too far. An innocent woman died, remember.
This comes at a time when the industry's critics are in full voice, with betting shops and betting machines in the line of fire.
Their ideas don't always add up. Take reducing maximum bets gamblers can place through casino-style fixed-odds betting terminals. That would result in a "murky" compromise with the big five bookmakers, according to the Labour MP Graham Jones.
No one appears to be talking about online, because it's far less visible and harder to do anything about, despite the fact that the only limit on stakes is how much your bank will let you put on your credit card.
Meanwhile, preventing "clustering" of betting shops in poor areas by re-introducing a version of the old "demand" test? That would simply favour the existing players to the detriment of newer entrants (like Paddy Power) and competition. Misguided they may be, but these measures are being actively debated, so it's a bad time for Paddy to be making a fool of itself.
If Paddy were smart it would say "We hear you" and deliver a cheeky smile and a bit of contrition. Such a move would pay dividends. It might even help sustain the ones paid to shareholders.
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Film follows park rangers in the Congo
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
Ukraine crisis: Donetsk 'tactical missile' explosion at factory sends blast wave across rebel-held city
Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
Super-sized ships arrive in Britain: How big can they get?
Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
iJobs Money & Business
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...
£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...
£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....
£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...