Market report: TV ad ban threat makes bookies a bad bet

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Stock market punters didn’t like the look of the odds for bookies today on growing fears of a Government crackdown on advertising.

Gambling companies are reportedly facing a ban on daytime TV ads in addition to the Government’s review into the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals, dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

The expanded review, aimed at weaning addicts off gambling, left investors concerned that it could hit the bookies’ top lines.

Shares in William Hill dipped 5.4p to 302.3p, Ladbrokes fell 4.1p to 137.7p and Paddy Power Betfair shed 155p to 8635p.

Cenkos analyst Simon French said an ad ban would hit online bingo firms hardest, but questioned how effective football betting advertising is at reeling in punters.

Online casino group 888, which recently failed in its joint £3 billion bid with Rank for William Hill, was also marginally in the red, off 0.75p at 229p.

The sector’s slide came when buyers were quids in. The FTSE 100 rose 39.15 points to 7039.11 as investors hunted returns. 

One trader was sceptical of the market rally and said he and his colleagues were expecting a “big shakeout” at any moment. “The stock market is the only place where investors see any value,” he added.

EasyJet’s nosedive continued as City analysts took the axe to forecasts in the wake of the airline’s profit shock yesterday.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch removed its Buy rating, and Credit Suisse, Investec and Kepler Cheuvreux all slashed their target prices, predicting more turbulence for the group run by Dame Carolyn McCall.

The shares, down another 43.5p or almost 5% today at 890p, have now lost nearly half their value this year.

Premier Asset Management rose 3p to 135p on its AIM debut after Electra Private Equity, Edward Bramson’s activist investor, banked £36 million from the float and kept an 8% stake worth £10 million.

Elsewhere, news that EKF Diagnostics, the AIM-listed medical diagnostics business, had such a good third quarter that it will beat analysts’ annual forecasts boosted the shares 1.92p or 13% to 16.55p.

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October 7, 2016 |
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