Skip to main content

You can bet on the banks

There is increasing nervousness in government circles about proposed changes that will split up and ring-fence the retail arm of the banks from the tarnished investment or ‘casino’ operations that contributed to the current crash.

However, we have obtained a leaked draft report containing proposals suggesting that far from separating the retail and investment arms, the government is planning to allow the banks to become more profitable by expanding their activities into the mainstream betting industry.

It seems that the aim of this odds-on favourite idea is to boost the balance sheets of banks while at the same time provide additional funds for lending to business and home buyers.

“There is an untapped synergy here”, says the report. “While waiting in a queue, customers will welcome the opportunity to watch live horse and greyhound races. Tellers will be able to take bets, with stakes paid in cash or debited from customers’ accounts. Combining banking with betting operations in this way would enable the banks to extend their opening hours. The thousands of all-night lobbies could be fitted out as amusement arcades with cashless one-armed bandits where investors could just insert their credit or debit cards, with winnings being credited automatically. Existing bank internet sites could easily be adapted to provide on-line betting services. The banks will also be able to offer credit for gambling, which will boost the gambling sector – something that is not possible within the present betting industry.

“This is a significant area with potential for economic growth”

In its introduction, the report points out that, “The betting industry is worth millions a year and we want to give the banks a share of this lucrative trade. What is wrong with betting in banks? The more cash the banks get, the more they will be able to boost lending levels and provide immediate cash to help promote the economic recovery.”

One paragraph discusses the possible risks associated with this change in regulations, but an assurance is given that the government now has the experience to bail out any bank that got into trouble.

Clearly, such a development would have important implications for both the banking and betting industries. One possible response to the threat of competition would be that the betting chains would take over some of the banks.

We tried to contact a spokesman for the betting industry but none were available for comment until after the weekend’s sporting fixes. Sorry, that should be fixtures.