In the last five years it is said that the UK punter, as a collective, has increased its wagering on sports, racing and gaming from £6 billion to £40 billion per annum. In anyone's currency, that is big bucks.
Given the huge size of this industry and its nationwide appeal, it is perhaps surprising that the only daily newspaper dedicated to betting matters is The Racing Post which has held a monopoly for eight years since The Sporting Life's presses stopped rolling. Yet, The Racing Post is still essentially a horse racing publication with secondary coverage of other betting interests.
This is now about to change with the forthcoming launch of "The Sportsman", a daily newspaper that is designed to muscle in on The Racing Post's territory but which acknowledges that the majority of sports betting in the UK today is not on horse racing. This will be a newspaper aimed at the UK betting population as a whole.
Poker will be one of many forms of betting and gaming that will be featured in The Sportsman as befits its current status in the UK betting pecking order. When large companies such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, Party Gaming, 888 and Paddy Power make official stock exchange announcements that include poker as their fastest growing element of their businesses, The Sportsman would be remiss to ignore it.
The Sportsman has said it will be giving all its staff members an equity incentive in the company, so we can expect a big effort to ensure that the new publication establishes itself against The Racing Post, which has the muscle of the Trinity Mirror Group behind it. The battle is likely to be tough. Last year, Sport First, which included a subsidiary paper, Poker First, ceased to be published, albeit that was only a weekly publication. The Sportsman has several million pounds of private investment behind it and is gearing up with a staff of 120, the majority of them journalists.
Editor-in-Chief, Charlie Methven says "We want to give sports betting journalism a national newspaper touch of class that it's never received before."
To assist in realising this goal, some shrewd appointments have been made. James Moore, who wrote the "You Bet" section in the Daily Telegraph, has been appointed Gaming Editor at The Sportsman. His responsibilities will include casinos and poker. James Eastham, previously the sports editor at Inside Edge, the gaming magazine, will be sports editor at The Sportsman.
However, behind the launch of the hard copy newspaper will be an active website that will seek to offer a source of real-time information and statistics that the serious punter will be expected to use. Here, The Sportsman will look to take advantage of the interactive betting market as another means of earning profits.
The launch date is anticipated to be 22nd March. UK Poker News, for one, will be opening up the pages to see how poker slots into the schedule!
Ed note: Sporting poker players use Bet365 Poker for an exclusive chance to win entry to every WSOP event!