There is an irony in the name of the collapsed chain of bookmakers; Celtic. However the irony doesn’t mask the reality of receivership and what it means for those who’ve worked in Celtic Bookmakers. I’m not a betting man and can understand that there is another view of the divisive nature of gambling and how it impacts on families of those addicted to gambling. Ivan Yates compares the company to those in the retail sector while pointing out that its discretionary spending rather than basic retail that he’s involved in thence the companies vulnerability to the down turn.
I listened to Ivan on the News at One. I won’t knock someone when they’re down. It is very hard for him but my main concern is for his workers who have little in prospect should the receiver decide to close outlets. Fair play to him in how he dealt with the collapse and pointing out how he tried to save the firm and what may now happen to him. As someone involved in the media Ivan well knows how to get your side of the story out and out first is what counts. So no real surprise that he took the bull by the horns. But what really surprised me was when Sean O’Rourke asked him about Celtic’s responsibility as a tenant to its landlords! Does Sean ever walk down a street? The number of bookies on the main street is not sustainable. What have they being doing since the bad weather came last November? We also know that attendances at race meetings have dropped recently. That said a book makers will take bets on anything so there must be alternatives to horses. Add to that the competition from online betting and there is a perfect storm.
I’ve always wondered about the number of bookies in Wexford town. That said there must be at least 12 bookies in a town for about 20,000 inhabitants. Of course if you’ve a core custom base that lays a lot of money then you can make a profit. But given the collapse in the economy and increases in unemployment, how many bookie shop can be making money? All chains had an outlet there until recently when William Hill closed. In some cases some chains have more than one outlet in the town. Can the market support that? When does competition end and market saturation start?
Some of Celtics shops will close while some may be sold off. Perhaps someone may step in and buy some or all of the chain. That would be preferable so as to maintain the jobs at present however, who would invest in a sector that seems to have over capacity at present unless you could reduce the operating costs. However knowing what we know about high rents are in Main St premises it’ll be hard to attract a new investor to the present outlets. Ivan mentioned rents of €100K for some premises. If as some people are pointing out who in the work force is worth paying €100K a year, I could turn that round and ask what premises is worth paying €100K each year just to open the door and turn on the lights? Ivan must have been fairly sickened in the last few months knowing what was going on in his company at a time when AIB were being bailed out by the state!
The ultimate irony is that capitalism is effectively gambling and the Celtic collapse proves that not even gamblers are above this law. You cannot beat the ultimate bookie, ie the market.