I put that point to them. The short answer is that they disagree. This is the long answer:
We have considered the additional information provided under our competition powers, which we outlined in our previous letter of 6 May, and in accordance with our prioritisation principles.1 We use our prioritisation principles to ensure that we make appropriate judgments about which projects and programmes of work we undertake across all areas of our responsibility, in order to make the best use of our finite resources in terms of real benefits for UK consumers.
We note your comments that you consider that Betfair is not a traditional bookmaker, but a betting exchange and in that sector, you consider that it has a near monopoly. As reflected in your comments, the definition of the relevant market is important in determining whether a company holds a dominant position and therefore whether its actions may amount to an abuse. It provides a framework for the analysis in identifying the competitive constraints acting on a supplier of a given product or service. In assessing cases under the Competition Act 1998 (the Act), we define the 'relevant market' according to the product and the geographic area.2
In terms of the relevant product market, it will include all products or services that a sufficient number of consumers could consider to be suitable alternatives (even though not exactly the same) if they felt that the price of the product or service in question was too high. In this instance, whilst you comment on the lack of viability of rival sites for many professional users, we would still need to determine whether sufficient consumers would switch to alternative forms of betting.
In determining whether we should investigate this matter further, we therefore need to consider whether the issue raised falls within our administrative priorities. In exercising this discretion we assess a complaint by reference to our prioritisation principles.We consider a range of factors, including impact on consumers, strategic significance, risk and resources.
We have considered your complaint against our prioritisation principles in the round and do not consider it appropriate to use our resources to make further enquiries into this matter. Accordingly, we will not be taking any further action in relation to your complaint at this time. This is an administrative priority decision and does not reflect a substantive view on the merits of the case.
We appreciate the time you have taken in bringing this matter to our attention. The OFT is keen to ensure that markets work well for consumers and the complaints we receive are used to help assess and shape the work of the OFT in the future. In this context, we will retain your complaint on our database and incorporate your concerns when considering areas for future investigation or study. Our intention, at this time, not to make further enquiries into this complaint does not preclude the OFT from revisiting the matter should further information come to our attention.
SilentDave wrote:Interesting that they consider Hills etc. as competition when one is a bookmaker and Betfair is an exchange.