Bingo can count its blessings
The gambling industry, in particular bingo, has not been slow to complain about the woes it has suffered at the hands of the smoking ban, the Government and the recession – but, according to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), it may have been dealt a stronger hand in the downturn than almost any other part of the leisure sector. PwC reckons that revenues will fall by only 5 per cent this year as small-stakes betting on bingo, lotteries and fruit machines proves comparatively resilient, compared with areas such as restaurants and hotels and higher-stakes gaming in casinos. The firm does admit that, in the case of bingo, this is partly a function of the mauling it suffered from the smoking ban and the Gaming Act. In other words, with sales already 20 per cent down, bingo has less far to fall.
The state of play in America
Illinois, in an attempt to plug a gaping hole in its finances, is poised to pass legislation allowing race tracks to provide internet betting to locals. For similar reaons, California has taken the first steps towards the legalisation of online poker within its borders. It is not entirely clear, however, how this will sit with the nationwide American ban on internet gambling, which dealt such a huge blow to the likes of PartyGaming and Sportingbet three years ago. Recent moves to scrap the ban have raised hopes that the companies could soon be allowed to re-enter the United States. But even if – and it’s a big if – the nationwide ban is lifted, my bet is that what will be allowed will be a state-by-state system of regulation along the lines of what Illinois and California are proposing, limiting the opportunities for PartyGaming and Sportingbet.
Brother and sister act
Young’s, the London pub operator, has appointed a new director of food development to improve the quality of its fresh food in its managed pubs: step forward Tina Buffini, who used to be an area manager for the company. Buffini. Buffini. Hang on a minute. Isn’t there a rather well-known private equity boss with the same surname? Indeed, there is. Tina’s brother is Damon Buffini, who runs Permira. A spot of crafty due diligence, perchance? Perish the thought. If the Permira boss really was sizing up Young’s, somehow I think he might have got his sister to assume a false name.