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Worlds apart

This week, Reuters delivered a special report into how US operators are trying to “conquer” the US “with tactics deemed too tough for Britain.”

Using several well-illustrated examples, the article breaks down exactly how operators in the US can be seen to use products and services that simply wouldn’t fly any more in the UK.

VIP management roles, for example, where operator representatives are expected to encourage high-spending customers to keep coming back, appear to have all but disappeared from the UK in recent years.

In the US’ nascent online gambling market, however, the tradition lives on, with Reuters pointing to job ads posted for VIP account managers on FanDuel’s website as recently as April this year.

Those ads stated that candidates would be expected to “increase player activity and drive revenue,” language which apparently promptly disappeared after Reuters enquired about the ads earlier this year.

The differences don’t stop there, however. In the UK, Flutter’s brands exercise a £10-per-spin stake limit on their online slots, while with FanDuel in the US, punters can stake up to $800 at a time on certain games.

The question remains, then, as to why if a company like Flutter has introduced these limits for the protection of its UK players, it wouldn’t do the same for their stateside counterparts.

For their part, Flutter remained staunch in their response, with CEO Peter Jackson telling Reuters: “We help engineer and lead a race to the top in terms of the standards.”

Still, with the online gambling sector inviting increasingly high levels of scrutiny in the US, it wouldn’t be too big a shock to see some of these things start to change in the very near future.

Readers are encouraged to check out this piece in full, for its thorough rundown of so many of the ways in which the US gambling landscape remains behind that in Europe.

New government, who’s this?

Speaking of the UK, the country today got the results of yesterday’s general election, which resulted in a landslide victory for the Labour Party, having spent the past 14 years in opposition.

The result was broadly anticipated, but according to an article in the Financial Times is now set to “enhance the attractiveness of UK markets as the prospect of a period of political stability marks the country out from some of its neighbours.”

UK stocks and bonds and sterling itself all “edged higher” this morning, the piece said, following steady gains since former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak first announced the election in May.

That uptick makes the pound the only member of the G10 group of major currencies to rise against the dollar so far this year, according to the FT.

The leadership of new Prime Minister Kier Starmer has apparently been well received among investors, with his “resounding win” drawing a line under the “tumultuous” reign of former governments.

“With political turmoil hitting other developed economies at the same time, this huge majority may present the UK to investors as somewhat of a political safe haven – a known quantity that should give businesses confidence in the environment they operate in,” Lindsay James, an investment strategist at Quilter Investors, told the FT.

Looking to Britain’s neighbours, instability in France has apparently spooked investors there, while there have also been “recent swings in the US Treasury market, sparked by the growing prospect of a second Donald Trump presidency after Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance last week.”

By comparison, the UK looks relatively solid to investors today, the piece suggests, though the new government continues to face “an uphill battle.”

Indeed, examining Labour’s plans for the future, Royal London Asset Management head of rates Craig Inches suggested: “I do find it difficult to see how they are going to pay for it.”

Perhaps a wave of new investment into the country could come in handy after all.

Don’t bet on it

A few days before the UK general election took place, comedian, actor and writer David Mitchell took to his regular Guardian column to ask a few questions about betting.

Thinking back to the political betting scandals of previous weeks, Mitchell writes: “I’m talking about the election and how loads of people suddenly seem to be betting on it. Why this flurry of flutters? Well, to make it interesting, I suppose. 

“Without money riding on it, they fear the campaign may struggle to hold their attention. That’s a bit of a red flag about political apathy, particularly as many of the people I’m talking about are parliamentary candidates.”

While it may not bode well for our politicians to be betting on their own successes (or failures!), Mitchell suggests that all this talk of gambling has indeed made the election more interesting, “for everyone.”

Mitchell, who is married to professional poker player Victoria Coren-Mitchell, is relatively close to the industry by proxy. 

Their relationship has taught him, he writes that: “Bookmakers don’t mind fooling people but they don’t like to be fooled and this aversion to a level playing field appears to have been enshrined in the 2005 Gambling Act. 

“The odds are always stacked in the bookmakers’ favour and, when they’re not, that’s cheating.”

He also points to the common practice of limiting or shutting down winning bettors’ accounts, even when they win their bets simpply “through blameless insight into equine behaviour.”

He suggests that anyone with ‘inside knowledge’ should still be allowed to place their bets – instead it is up to the bookies whether or not they want to accept it.

Otherwise, he asks: “Should punters have to sign an affidavit saying: ‘I may have bet that Hopalong Strawberry will win the Gold Cup but I swear I have no reasonable expectation that that will happen and only think it for muddle-headed superstitious reasons of my own’?”

Well, what a world that would be.

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