Betfred Post £75M Operating Profit For 2019

Fred and Peter Done, co-founders and owners of Betfred, have built up their gambling business for over 50 years and the Betfred brand is one of the best known in the UK, with the brothers owning over 1,600 shops and operating a successful on-line gambling platform.

The gambling industry is under pressure from regulators and Parliament to protect vulnerable gamblers, and the Done family – along with many others in the industry – were shocked at the Government’s decision to limit the maximum wager on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOTBs)  in shops, from £100 to £2.  This limit, which came into effect on 1 April 2019, led Fred Done to comment that bookmakers were “fighting for their lives”.

Recent data, however, suggests that his misgivings were misplaced at least as far as Betfred is concerned.  The annual accounts for the business, for the year ended September 2019, report an operating profit of nearly £75 million, despite the loss of income from FOBTs.  So the two brothers have been able to award themselves dividends of £10.2 million.  

Critics of the gambling industry, and there are many – often in high places, will argue that such rewards are obscene and will place the “fat cat” tag on the Done brothers with impunity.  However, we would argue that the dividends awarded are proportionate when the size of the business is taken into account, the number of jobs being sustained through the retail portfolio and online, and the ongoing element of risk as the industry becomes ever more regulated.  

The Done brothers are indisputably wealthy – with the Sunday Times Rich List estimating their joint worth at £1.2 billion – but they have never attracted significant public criticism, particularly as they continue to be resident in the United Kingdom as taxpayers and they also support charitable institutions.  Perhaps too, there is recognition that their humble beginnings in a Salford slum – where the two brothers shared a room with two other siblings – contrast hugely with the backgrounds of other UK billionaires who may be wealthy due to inherited property rather than on their own merits.  

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