Ladbrokes Chief Executive Jim Mullen has called on the government to give the betting industry some respite in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
In just over 12 months, the industry has seen the introduction of a point of consumption taxation, a 5% increase in machine gaming duty to 20%, new restrictions on gaming machines in the shape of the £50 journey and now faces the prospect of a horseracing betting right.
Mullen commented: “I just ask for clear air from the government and regulators.” He also added that the divisive industry ‘needs defending by leaders who actually love the sector’ and questioned people making judgement calls on the sector despite never having put a bet on themselves.
It’s a big year for Mullen anyway given the merger between his firm and Coral, but he’s not impressed at the suggestion that the Competition and Markets Authority will force the combined entity to dispose of up to 1,000 betting shops. “It’s just a farcical figure,” he said. “I would hope that the CMA… knows that we’re doing this obviously to grow scale in a sector which I believe is consolidating.”
Mullen’s push for a merger is being made as he attempts to catch up with rivals that have stolen a march on Ladbrokes. He conceded that the firm ‘missed out in football’ for the in-play market and that the company’s attempt to build its own in-house digital technology put the group ‘back three years’.