Paul Petrie is the co-founder and director of UK-based online bookmaker McBookie. A BetVictor white label, the firm specialises in Scottish betting markets – encompassing everything from novelty markets to Scottish junior football.
We caught up with Paul to discuss the state of play for smaller British bookmakers, McBookie’s relationship with BetVictor and Scottish non-league sponsorship.
SBC: It’s no secret that it’s a particularly turbulent time for British bookmakers. As a smaller, online operator, how is McBookie finding things?
Paul Petrie: We are still heading in the right direction, increasing our customer database each year and growing the business. Obviously taxation and increased regulation has made that harder but we have a strong brand and know exactly the type of customer that we are targeting so we always have a clear focus.
Whilst being a white label isn’t ideal it certainly has been beneficial for us during these times as we get great support from BetVictor. The platform is fantastic and every time they move forward we get the benefits. It certainly helps us compete from a product point of view which we would never be able to do if we were a stand alone provider. That is obviously great news for our customers and is a strong reason for our continued growth
SBC: Scotland, as a betting market, is relatively small in comparison to other European nations. How profitable an industry have you found it?
PP: As you say it is small in comparison to other European Nations but as recent gambling commission figures show, Scotland holds its own within the UK and therefore as a country has a whole host of opportunities. The fact that the three major football competitions in Scotland are sponsored by bookmakers backs that up. We have only scratched the surface in terms of our market share so there is still plenty growth for us to target. We are an Independent bookmaker so it will always be difficult to compete with the major brands but we believe that by focussing on a distinct territory it gives us the best chance.
SBC: As well as being one of few bookies to offer odds on Scottish junior football, McBookie also sponsors a number of junior leagues. How fruitful has this relationship been?
PP: It has been great for the brand and it has also been great for acquisition. British bookmakers offer prices on all levels of football in England yet neglect those same standards in Scotland. That was one of the reasons why we believed there was a good opportunity for a Scottish bookmaker and that has certainly been the case. We keep limits low on these games which allows us to manage liabilities and look forward to continuing the sponsorship for a long time.
SBC: Moving on to Scottish football, Celtic crashed out of the Europa League last week with a dismal away performance in Russia. With the five elite leagues seemingly moving further and further from the chasing pack, the club’s Chief Executive Peter Lawwell has predicted big changes to the format of European football in the next few years. Do you think these proposed changes could signify a new era for Scottish football?
PP: Celtic and Rangers have been talking for years about moving out of Scotland – either to England or to an Atlantic League. So far nothing has ever happened and I would be majorly surprised if anything ever does. Personally, I would like to see Scottish football focus on reconstruction closer to home with a bigger top league. My own vote would be a 16 team league with everyone playing each other twice.
SBC: Scott Brown has today announced his retirement from international football. Who is McBookie backing to become the new captain of the Scottish national team?
PP: I don’t care who the captain is as long as he steers us towards Euro 2020. I am not sure I can take any more pain of not qualifying for major tournaments. Much will depend on the formation Alex McLeish goes with but if we were pricing up the market I would make Kieran Tierney the favourite.