Bet­ting firm in­vestors cash in chips

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Louis ash­worth

BRI­TAIN’s top gam­bling groups saw their share prices fall on fears of a loom­ing sec­tor crack­down.

On Sun­day, the Com­mons pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee pub­lished a re­port that ac­cused the Gov­ern­ment and reg­u­la­tors of fail­ing to shield the pub­lic from the risks of on­line bet­ting.

The re­port said the Depart­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport had not done enough to pre­vent harms, and branded the Gam­bling Com­mis­sion “a tor­pid, tooth­less reg­u­la­tor”.

The re­port gave the depart­ment and the Gam­ing Com­mis­sion three months to re­spond with a plan of ac­tion to im­prove its reg­u­la­tory treat­ment of the sec­tion.

In­vestors backed away from Lad­brokes Coral-owner GVC Hold­ings and Pad­dyPower-owner Flut­ter En­ter­tain­ment, which headed the FTSE 100 fall­ers with falls of more than 2pc, down 20.8p to 742.8p and 225p to £108.20 re­spec­tively. Mid-cap bookie Wil­liam Hill took the big­gest hit, how­ever, drop­ping more than 3pc, or 4p to 118.9p.

Good­body’s Gavin Kelleher said the re­port, which stopped short of spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions, was lim­ited in some el­e­ments, but said: “The chances of some from of neg­a­tive in­ter­ven­tion (or at least the per­cep­tion that it is com­ing) def­i­nitely in­creases with the re­lease of such Gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try re­ports.”

“We con­tinue to out­line that well di­ver­si­fied op­er­a­tors with a recre­ational data­base are best placed to nav­i­gate through such reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ments,“he added.

GVC was left as the FTSE 100’s big­gest faller on a day of de­cent gains for the blue-chip in­dex, which is slowly claw­ing back last Wed­nes­day’s heavy losses.

The in­dex was given some lift by solid per­for­mances from banks – with Stan­dard Char­tered and Bar­clays both ris­ing – and a 3pc jump by en­ergy gi­ant BP, up 10.3p to 314.9p, on news of the $5bn sale of its petro­chem­i­cals di­vi­sion to Sir Jim Rat­cliffe’s Ineos.

Stocks strug­gled to find their feet at the start of ses­sion, but picked up as the day went on, build­ing mo­men­tum into the close.

House­builders flipped dur­ing the day – ris­ing ini­tially in an­tic­i­pa­tion of an in­fra­struc­ture pro­gramme launch to be un­veiled to­day, be­fore stum­bling later. Bar­ratt De­vel­op­ments dropped 4.4p to 497.2p. Else­where, Boris John­son’s am­bi­tions to build hos­pi­tals, schools and roads – teased over the week­end – sent shares in Kier Group up 7.5p to 97.5p.

Else­where, elec­tric power gen­er­a­tion com­pany Drax rose 32p to 255.2p on week­end spec­u­la­tion it could be­come a takeover tar­get. The

Mail on Sun­day said an un­known en­ergy com­pany was look­ing at the group, and could be in early talks. How­ever, no an­nounce­ment was forth­com­ing yes­ter­day.

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