Paddy Power is an Irish bookmaker. Offline it conducts business through a chain of licensed betting shops in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and by operating Ireland’s largest telephone betting service. Online it offers sports betting, online poker, online bingo, online casino games, and spread betting. The company is listed on the Irish and UK stock exchanges.
Paddy Power was founded in 1988 by the merger of the 40 shops of three Irish bookmakers: Stewart Kenny, David Power, and John Corcoran. Stewart Kenny had sold Kenny O’Reilly bookmakers to Coral in 1986 and then opened 10 shops of his own by 1988; he was the CEO of Paddy Power until 2002. John Corcoran’s shops had traded as Patrick Corcoran. David Power was a son of Richard Power and one of several inheritors trading under the Richard Power name. The Power name was considered the strongest brand among the merged shops, while the “Paddy” name and green colouring emphasised the chain’s Irishness at a time when the fragmented Irish industry was facing competition from British betting chains entering the market in response to changes in the Irish tax code. David Power’s son, whose name happens to be Paddy Power (b. 1974/5), is a marketing spokesman for the company.
Paddy Power had an aggressive expansion strategy involving opening prominent shops in most Irish towns, rather than side-streets previously favoured. The firm’s novelty bets broadened its media coverage beyond the horseracing news. Its share of the Irish off-course betting market grew from 8% in 1988 to 33% in 2001. Power Lesiure, parent company of Paddy Power PLC, listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2000 to fund a UK expansion.
At the end of 2005 Paddy Power operated 195 outlets (150 in Ireland and 45 in the UK). The total number of employees was 1,374. On 27 May 2008, it acquired Northern Ireland independent bookmaker McGranaghan Racing, bringing Paddy Power’s shop count to 191 in Ireland. In February 2010, the chain had 356 shops with 209 in Ireland, 8 in Northern Ireland and 139 in Great Britain.
The bookmaker is known for offering odds on controversial markets in order to garner publicity, e.g., in November 2008, 16–1 was laid that U.S. President Barack Obama ‘would not finish’ his first term (this was widely interpreted as his odds of assassination).
After English Premier League new boys Stoke City lost their opening game of the 2008–09 season 3–1 to Bolton Wanderers, Paddy Power controversially paid out on bets on them being relegated. When the club finished in mid-table at the end of the season the company took out a full page advert in The Sentinel apologising to the club and its supporters.
In December 2007, Paddy Power began offering online bingo games. The original “Paddy Power Bingo” used Parlay’s bingo software. In 2009, Paddy Power moved their bingo operations from Parlay to Playtech’s Virtue Fusion software platform.
In July 2010, the company took the unusual step of refunding bets placed on Felipe Massa to win the 2010 Germany Grand Prix, following the notorious “team orders” incident, which led to Fernando Alonso being allowed to win the race, despite Massa’s clear lead.
In October 2011, the company paid out early on New Zealand winning the Rugby Union World Cup, four days before the final against France on 23 October 2011. The company boss said: ‘New Zealand have left all of their opposition so far feeling black and blue and it’s inevitable us bookies will be taking a hammering from them on Sunday too – so punters might as well collect now.’ The All Blacks were Paddy Power’s 4/6 tournament favourites and were 1/9 odds on to win with France 13/2.
As of November 2011 Paddy Power was the largest bookmaker in Europe by total share value. Its group income was €444m in 2010.
On 14 May 2010, Paddy Power acquired a majority stake in Australian bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au. Paddy Power was placed 6th in the 2011 Management Today “Britain’s most admired companies” list.
Paddy Power and British rival Betfair agreed terms for a merger on 8 September 2015. The transaction will be structured as an acquisition of Betfair by Paddy Power and the enlarged entity, to be named Paddy Power Betfair, will be based in Dublin.