The betting industry is incredibly competitive. There are so many bookmakers providing a top class service to customers that the main goal for many – in terms of their ongoing success – is standing out against the field. That, in a nutshell, is Paddy Power’s key strength.
The Irish bookmaker has had no problem ruffling a few feathers in their attempts to gain attention pretty much since the moment they were founded in 1988. As they put it themselves on their website, Paddy Power have “been serving up mischief and entertaining our customers since the very beginning”.
Although the original people involved in Paddy Power were experienced bookies, they surely could not have dreamed that the business would go as far as it has gone over the last 30 plus years. Paddy Power’s story is one of a company who do things their own way and who have been incredibly successful. Below is the complete history of Paddy Power.
1988: The Dream Team is Formed
Horse racing fans in Ireland have been wagering on the sport for hundreds of years. Ireland is the original home of the betting ring, a practice which is first noted to have taken place at Baldoyle races in County Dublin in the mid-1700s. Gambling went through boom and bust times and it wasn’t until the post-war period that gambling was legalised on the high street.
Stewart Kenny, David Power, and John Corcoran all made significant money from running betting shops in Ireland (Kenny also made money from selling shops to Coral) but in the late 1980s they decided their business aims would be better served by pooling their resources. Thus, Paddy Power was set up in Dublin in 1988.
1989: Grabbing the Limelight
The name Paddy Power was chosen because, of all three of the founders, David Power’s surname was thought to be the strongest. The three had also decided that they were going to be loudly and proudly Irish right from the start so adding Paddy made perfect sense, as did the green and white colours for the logo and branding.
The bold approach Paddy Power took to their branding continued with their business strategy. The three founders took the decision to open as many shops as they could in prominent high street locations throughout Ireland, rather than opening them in more hidden locations as was the norm with the competition.
1990: Scaling the Feel Good Factor
At the turn of the new decade nobody could have predicted how the gambling industry would be turned on its head. Paddy Power’s management team were certainly very much focusing on their expanding bricks and mortar operation. They were successful in this regard by making a trip to one of their shops as enjoyable as possible for their customers. Paddy Power’s growth throughout Ireland was fuelled by taking a local approach and by ensuring that people knew what they stood for, something which served them very well in years to come.
2000: A Game Changing Year
Although Paddy Power had grown a lot since their initial launch in 1988, they were still a relatively nimble enough company come the turn of the millennium to be one of the first bookmakers to take advantage of the birth of the World Wide Web.
Paddy Power’s online sportsbook was an instant hit (relative to the size of internet betting compared to today). The company poured more money and effort into the website, convinced that it was the future of the gambling industry. This exciting new direction didn’t change Paddy Power’s desire to continue to grow their bricks and mortar operation. 2000 was the year their holding company floated on the London Stock Exchange to fund a much greater presence on British high streets.
2003: New Product Choice
One of the most powerful things about running a bookmaker online is that it is possible to do many more things in one place than it is possible to do from a physical betting shop. Paddy Power proved this in 2007 when they began expanding the products available on their website and by opening a number of other websites.
Paddypowerpoker.com, paddypowercasino.com and paddypowergames.com and bingo.paddypower.com were all opened in a fairly short time period. Those standalone sites have since been shut down but the products continue to be offered on the main Paddy Power website and their mobile offering.
2008: An Ever Increasing High Street Presence
Paddy Power’s continual growth in betting shops saw them operate over 200 in Britain and Ireland. That number continued to go up and up as they sought to ensure they had a presence in every town possible. To that end, the 2008 purchase of McGranaghan Racing, an independent bookmaker based in Northern Ireland, was another big step forwards as it further increased their physical presence. Just two years later, Paddy Power had over 350 shops, the majority of which were located in Ireland.
2008: A Joke Too Far for Some
Paddy Power arguably have the best branding of any betting company. You can tell this is the case by the number of people who know that Paddy Power is the ‘cheeky chappy’ of the betting industry or, as they put it, “we’ve been serving up mischief and entertaining our customers since the very beginning.”
The most common way that Paddy Power have cut through to a wider audience is by well thought out and planned publicity stunts. They paid Nicklas Bendtner to show off his Paddy Power boxing shorts after scoring in Euro 2012 for example but in 2008, Paddy Power were forced to apologise when one of these stunts garnered negative publicity. They took bets on whether Barack Obama would complete his first term in office, generally perceived to mean whether or not the American president would be assassinated. It’s fair to say this wasn’t Paddy Power’s proudest moment even if it did earn them plenty of column inches.
2009: Early Takeovers Are a Sign of What’s to Come
Paddy Power’s move from Ireland into Great Britain and Northern Ireland meant they already knew a thing or two about operating under different rules and regulations. Things were ratcheted up a significant amount in May of 2009 when Paddy Power bought an operating stake in the Australian bookie, Sportsbet.
Paddy Power’s investment and expertise was an important factor in Sportsbet’s continued growth Down Under and the two companies still operate under the same corporate structure.
2010: Another Early Move
Having made such a fast move onto the internet in 2000, Paddy Power were at it again 10 years later when they realised the world of gambling was about to go mobile. They were one of the very first bookmakers to really take mobile betting seriously and invested a lot of money to launch their iPhone app. Indeed, for many months, Paddy Power were the only bookie to have an app on the Apple App Store which shows just how far ahead of the competition they were in this regard.
2011: Continuing to Put the Customer First
As you will remember from earlier, Paddy Power developed a reputation for treating their customers very well at their betting shops. They worked hard to continue that approach on their website and have never been shy about publicising it when they do so. Therefore, in 2010 Paddy Power made sure they told anybody who would listen that they were paying out losing bets on Felipe Massa to win the German Grand Prix after he was ordered to give up first place to his teammate, Fernando Alonso.
Paddy Power have similarly created headlines for paying punters out early on a whole host of markets from teams to be relegated from the Premier League to New Zealand winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup four days before the match even took place.
2014: 500 Not Out
By 2014, Paddy Power was a mature player in the betting industry (no matter what impression their advertising gave). Their online betting products continued to increase and be refined but there was no let-up in their aim to provide a top class betting experience on the high street. 2014 saw another major milestone in that regard as the new Paddy Power betting shop in Stevenage became their 500th shop. That location would prove to be prescient as Stevenage was home to a major Betfair office.
2016: Betfair Joins the Party
The acquisition of Sportsbet obviously sparked something among the powers that be at Paddy Power as a few years later they were at it again, this time on an even grander scale. Officially, Paddy Power and Betfair merged to form a new company in 2016 known as Paddy Power Betfair. Technically, however, the merger was structured in such a way so as to make it an acquisition of Betfair by Paddy Power.
Together, Paddy Power and Betfair became one of the biggest betting companies in the world. The move saw their combined worth grow considerably as the company pooled their resources in their Dublin head office and their operations around the world which includes almost 600 Paddy Power shops in the UK and Ireland.
2016: Steps Into the American Market
The relaxing of online gambling laws in America was still a few years away in 2016 but people in the industry were growing in confidence and excitement about the opportunities available in America thanks, in no small part, to the growth of peer-to-peer wagering companies such as DRAFT.
DRAFT allowed groups of friends and bigger groups to make money from fantasy sports across America and their growth was so impressive to Paddy Power Betfair that they acquired DRAFT in 2016. The move gave the company a readymade audience in America and another string to their bow in terms of product offering and expertise.
2018: Paddy Power Betfair Sets Up FanDuel Group
The news that people in the betting industry had for years been hoping for finally came in 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down the legislation which banned sports wagering at a federal level in America. With states now able to decide what sort of gambling they allowed in their territory, there was something of a gold rush with many major British and Irish bookmakers looking to set up shop in America.
Paddy Power Betfair were a little ahead of the curve thanks to their purchase of DRAFT but went much further in 2018 when Paddy Power Betfair merged its American operations with the huge fantasy sports betting company, FanDuel. The new company was known as FanDuel Group but elsewhere Paddy Power Betfair continued to operate its brands – including Paddy Power, Betfair, Sportsbet, DRAFT and FanDuel – as individual companies but which all fell under the main company’s umbrella. The group opened up their first physical sports betting location at New Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey shortly after the merger.
2019: Flutter Entertainment is Born
Paddy Power Betfair made another purchase in 2019, the biggest Georgian betting company, Adjarabet. It became clear that the company wanted to keep extending into new territories wherever possible so the decision was made to rebrand to reflect the fact that they have a number of different brands in various different niches.
Thus, FanDuel Group was rebranded to become Flutter Entertainment. The company still has its headquarters in Dublin and is listed on the London Stock Exchange where it forms part of the FTSE 100 Index.