The luck of the Irish

They say that betting is a mug’s game, but that really depends which side of the glass you’re on. Just look at Paddy Power. An exceptional run of unusual sporting results lately has had punters tearing up their slips into a confetti of frustration – but brought record profits to the Irish bookies.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010
Operating profits at the firm, which takes bets on everything from the closing price of the FTSE-100 to Prince William’s love-life, more than doubled, to 40.8m euros in the first half of the year. Meanwhile the group’s UK retail unit hit the black for the first time, after posting a 3m euro loss in the same period last year.

Paddy Power seemed genuinely surprised by what it called the ‘freakish’ results, which demonstrate the fickle fortunes of the gambling sector. Last year, Ireland’s typically patriotic punters had a field day, with a record 10 victories by Irish horses at Cheltenham, an Irish victor in the Grand National and a Triple Crown for the country in rugby’s Six Nations.

This year though, Paddy Power had its revenge, with Irish horses faring badly at Cheltenham, and lightly-backed outsiders winning a string of sporting events, including the Masters and US Open. And of course the Republic of Ireland’s football team beat Denmark 4-0 the other day. No-one would have thought to put money on that. Israel beating England on Saturday, however, now that's another story.

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