Blue Square Founder to Leave Rank

21 October 2008

Amid declining growth in Rank Group's online betting and gaming division, Martin Belsham, the director of Blue Square Ltd., is set to leave the company.

Mr. Belsham founded Blue Square in 1999. When Rank acquired Blue Square from Intercapital Private Group Ltd. in 2003, he joined as managing director and a board member. Prior to these posts, he served as a managing director of City Index, a spread betting company owned by the British billionaire Michael A. Spencer, and as a director at ICAP.

Rank said it has begun seeking a successor to Mr. Belsham. In the meantime, Ian Burke, Rank’s chief executive, will take over managerial duties.

The company offered no reason for Mr. Belsham’s exit or any suggestion of future plans; when contacted, the company declined to comment on his departure.

However, in its interim management statement on Friday, Rank announced that while gaming had increased 7 percent, Blue Square's sports book revenue declined 11 percent. Meanwhile, growth across Blue Square has slimmed from 3.1 percent to 1 percent this year.

“On behalf of the board I would like to thank Martin for his efforts in developing the group's interactive gambling capability over the past five-and-a-half years,” said Mr. Burke in a prepared statement. “During that period, he has been instrumental in transforming Blue Square from an online and telephone sports book to a broad gaming business with particular strength in online bingo."

Jeanette Kozlowski is a staff writer for IGamingNews and manager of Clarion Gaming's Gaming Industry Media portal. She lives in Kirkwood, Mo.