December 27, 2008

William Hill has taken a decision to withdraw from Bulgaria

Today i receive bad news. William Hill want to ban bulgarian users. This was my first online bookmaker, where i place my first online bet and my first bet from my phone. Bye, bye i will miss you.

“We regret to inform you that William Hill has taken a decision to withdraw all of our online betting and gaming services for all residents of Bulgaria and will be unable to offer them to residents of Bulgaria for the foreseeable future.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you; however this decision has been taken for legal reasons beyond our control.

We will be suspending all accounts of all residents of Bulgaria from 30th December 2008. After this date, you will not be able to use your account to access our online sportsbook or gaming rooms.”

December 22, 2008

PartyGaming co-founder pleads guilty to Wire Act charges, sentencing set for 2010

PartyGaming co-founder Anurag Dikshit pleaded guilty in New York yesterday to charges under the Wire Act and to operating an “internet gambling business which offered casino and poker games, among other games of chance, to customers” in the US from around 1997 to October 2006 and to using communications “wires to transmit bets and wagering information in interstate commerce”.

Dikshit posted bail on a US$15m personal recognisance bond, his travel will be limited to his main residence of Gibraltar and New York but he may also be able to travel to India and the European Union.

He has agreed to forfeit US$300m to the US authorities and has already paid US$100m of the amount, with another US$100m to be paid in three months and the final US$100m prior to his sentencing on 16 December 2010 or on September 30 2009.

According to the Financial Times, the two-year gap between his hearing and sentencing means he will be able to show he is co-operating with the US authorities and will be unlikely to face a jail term of up to two years.

December 21, 2008

888 to launch three new bingo networks and six white label partners

888 is to further expand its bingo operations, signing agreements to launch three new bingo networks for third party companies. Two of these will be focused on the UK, the third will be a localised Spanish offering.

The additional networks will bolster 888’s already considerable presence in the online bingo space. The operator already runs seven networks in addition to its own branded offering, including Mirror Bingo, Foxy Bingo, and Wink Bingo.

888 also hosts a number of bingo skins via its Globalcom network, and 888 also revealed agreements have been signed to add six new partners to this network.

888 has increasingly turned to the rapidly growing bingo vertical as a means of developing and diversifying its revenue lines.

888 chief executive Gigi Levy said: “These agreements and new initiatives represent acceleration in 888's bingo activity, the fastest growing segment in the online gaming industry. They are set to make a significant addition to our bingo business not only in revenues but also in geographic presence.”

The new networks are set to launch in the first quarter of 2009, subject to final regulatory sign-off.

December 20, 2008

WorldSpreads Signs White Label Deal with Victor Chandler

Following the launch of its new online casino last week, Victor Chandler International (VCI) is further expanding its online offering with the addition of financial spread betting through an exclusive agreement with WorldSpreads Group plc.

Scheduled for launch in January 2009, will provide VCI's customers with access to more than 4,000 financial market instruments such as stock indices, currencies, commodities and individual shares.

“I personally have a great passion for the financial markets and am delighted that we are able to add this product to our offering,” said Victor Chandler. “We feel that we share with WorldSpreads much of our culture of committed customer support and creative marketing and I am excited by the prospects for our joint venture together.”

Michael Carlton, Chief Executive of Victor Chandler International, added: “Our agreement with WorldSpreads enables us to offer what we believe will be a very popular additional product for our customers to enable them to access the exciting world of the financial markets. Further, we believe that the very high levels of media attention currently afforded to the volatility in the prices of financial products support the timing of our entry into this market.”

What price peace of mind for Party?

The news of a possible settlement between PartyGaming founder Anurag Dikshit and the US authorities in relation to the poker operator’s activities in the US prior to the US internet gambling ban of 2006 will come as a relief for investors and those looking at the possibility of some major merger and acquisition activity next year.

It is understood that Dikshit found the pressure too much to bear over the past two years and wanted to be able to carry out his business and charity work in India with a clear mind.

But what of PartyGaming, how much will the company end up paying as settlement to the US authorities? The US authorities are looking to get between 50% and 100% of the profits retained by the company now. Party currently has US$150m on its balance sheet and industry observers estimate that the amount of the financial penalty will be between U$50m and US$100m.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank said the latest “developments should be taken positively for PartyGaming (and other operators in discussions with the DoJ)”, as it showed the DoJ was willing to reach settlements while investors now had a clear idea of the financial implications [“‘significantly lower’ than $300m =c.48p/share”] of dealing with the firm.

Analysts at Daniel Stewart said: “Critically, the independence of talks should ensure that a settlement can be made.” Certainly, the tone of the firm’s statement this morning was much clearer as to the likelihood of a settlement with the US authorities. It said: “The Company's discussions with the DoJ have made good progress and it is currently negotiating the final terms of a possible settlement with the DoJ.”

Adding the usual caveat that “no guarantee that an agreement will be reached between the Company and the DoJ”, such a statement will be viewed optimistically by the online gaming sector and a settlement announcement in the first quarter of 2009 may well be on the cards.

With potential regulation of online gaming in the US in the offing, there is a possibility that the first half of next year will mark the start of the long-awaited consolidation investors and the industry have been waiting for for so long.

December 19, 2008

Moore bets, Muscat fined, Brebner banned

Former Socceroo captains Kevin Muscat and Craig Moore, both A-League captains, and recovering gambling addict Grant Brebner — Muscat's Melbourne Victory teammate — were yesterday hit with a combination of match bans and fines after being implicated in the league's first betting scandal.

Muscat and Moore bet trifling amounts and not against their own team — unlike Brebner, who had a small bet in an Asian Champions League game this year and stood to win a paltry amount if Victory drew or lost to Thai opponent Chonburi. Melbourne lost 3-1 in the match played in Bangkok.

For all three, the punishment will hurt less than the shame that their transgression has produced. Brebner copped a four-match ban, with two games suspended, and a $5000 fine, with $2000 suspended, while Muscat and Moore were hit with the same monetary fines.

Victory football operations manager Gary Cole last night said the club would stand by the two players and would take no further action against Muscat or Brebner.

"He (Muscat) won't be sacked from his role as assistant coach or captain," said Cole, who said Brebner would receive ongoing counselling for his gambling problems.

"Kevin Muscat has been and continues to be a fantastic leader for Melbourne Victory Football Club on and off the field.

"He has made a mistake and he has apologised and he's extremely remorseful. He's a tough man and this is going to make him stronger. Whilst this is very uncomfortable we will all be stronger."

After the Victory lost to Newcastle Jets 4-2 last night, Muscat said: "I have made an error, stuck my hand up and I will take it on the chin. It's certainly not something I will walk away from. I addressed the team last night in a brief meeting and expressed what was going on. The first I heard was yesterday. I thought it was important they heard it from me not in the paper.

"I have had one betting account ever, that was two weeks ago, and I have made one bet, to the stake of $100. Whether that was $100 or $100,000 … I realise it was a mistake."

Earlier, Muscat and Brebner issued public apologies.

"I accept and apologise for my actions," Muscat said. "I have clearly done the wrong thing and accept the sanction that has been handed down by Football Federation Australia.

"I am captain of our club and realise I have a responsibility to the club, my teammates and our fans. I apologise profusely and can assure you all that I have seen the error of my ways. It was a momentary lapse and a clear error in judgement."

Brebner said: "I apologise to my club, teammates, our fans, my family and FFA (Football Federation Australia) for my actions. I want to make sure everyone is aware that I haven't involved anyone else. I understand and accept the consequences that come with my actions."

Melbourne Victory chief executive Geoff Miles said the players were "very remorseful and regretful" for their actions.

"While the club is disappointed, we will support our players 100 per cent through this situation. Kevin is an outstanding leader of our club, however … he has made an error, which he realises was totally unacceptable.

"In Grant's case, it has been well documented that he has had an ongoing issue with gambling.

"The club has always supported Grant in addressing this issue, and it is unfortunate that this breach of the code of conduct has occurred."

For all three players, experienced professionals in their 30s, the placing of the bets, for relatively trivial amounts, can at best be described as thoughtless, at worst stupid.

It calls into question their judgement and brings unwelcome publicity to their sport.

Muscat made one bet and lost $100 on a match not involving Melbourne, while Moore bet a total of $600, winning $72, on two matches not involving the Roar.

Brebner's case was viewed more seriously, and not just because he has a long track record of gambling problems in his native Britain.

He placed bets on two matches, including the Victory's loss to Chonburi.

From the bets placed on that match, Brebner collected $540 for picking the number of goals scored in the game. He also had $2.48 on Chonburi either beating or drawing with Melbourne. The Scotsman was not in the squad for the match, nor was he in Thailand with the team.

The wagers came to light after betting agency Betfair supplied information to FFA under an "integrity management agreement".

The chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, Brendan Schwab, said it was important for FFA to "send a clear message that betting on any form of football is unacceptable".

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said Brebner's case was deemed serious enough to warrant a suspension.

"For Kevin and Craig, we felt the financial penalty was warranted and appropriate, but we think there is a difference when a player wagers on their own team, and hence (Grant) was issued a suspension," he said.

Buckley said the suspensions and fines should serve as a warning to players.

"It's a very clear and a very strong message that betting on any form of football is unacceptable," he said.

"(It) has no place in the game. It won't be tolerated."

Buckley said he did not believe that betting was a widespread problem in the A-League.

Queensland Roar said its star defender had made an honest mistake and there were no sinister implications from the bets.

Brebner, who began his career at Manchester United after leaving his native Edinburgh, came to Australia in 2006 to try to relaunch his personal and professional life after succumbing to gambling demons.

He was a crucial member of Victory's title-winning team and this week signed a one-year contract extension.

At one stage he developed a $6200-a-week gambling addiction and in 2004 spent a month in a rehabilitation clinic run by Sporting Chance, the charity founded by recovered alcoholic and former England and Arsenal captain Tony Adams.

December 12, 2008

Unibet Signs Sponsorship Deal with Valencia CF

Unibet and Spain’s Valencia football club will today unveil a title sponsorship deal for the remainder of the 2008/09 season at the Estadio Mestalla, with a view towards extending the deal into 2011.

Under the agreement, Unibet's logo will be branded on Valencia's official team shirt for all games in La Liga, the Spanish premier division, as well as Copa del Rey games and friendly matches. Unibet will also increase its brand exposure with a logo presence on the team's practice clothing and second team official shirts.

Additionally, Unibet will have a brand presence on LED displays around the stadium, as well as on Valencia CF's club website and through the official club magazine. Unibet will also run promotional events with Valencia players which will be focused specifically on the supporters and fan clubs.

Unibet and Valencia CF expect the deal to become part of a longer sponsorship deal over the next two seasons until 2011. An agreement for next season is expected to be reached in Q1 2009.

Recent winners of the Copa del Rey in 2008 and La Liga champions in 2002 and 2004, Valencia is one of the biggest football teams in Spain and the third most supported after Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Next year the club plan to move from its 55,000 seat Estadio Mestalla stadium to a new 75,000 seat stadium, Nou Mestalla, in the north-west of the city.

Unibet spokesman, Juan Barrachina said the company was "very satisfied" with the agreement and said it was an excellent opportunity for the Unibet brand and business to achieve growth in Spain and Europe through this deal.

With this agreement, Unibet becomes the sixth online gaming brand to sponsor a Spanish football team alongside 888 (Sevilla FC), bwin (Real Madrid), Finland's Paf (Atlético de Madrid), Interapuestas (RCD Espanyol) and Sportingbet's Miapuesta (Unió Esportiva Miapuesta Castelldefels).

December 11, 2008

Polish referee tied to corruption

Top Polish international football referee Grzegorz G. and official Tomasz S. were taken into custody by the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CAB) in relation to the domestic football corruption investigation, Polskie Radio reports.

The public prosecutor's office, located in Wroclaw, of southwest Poland, is investigating the case. Grzegorz G. and official Tomasz S. will stand before this agency.

The referee as been working in the Champions League for three years, and is regarded as one of the top three referees in Poland. The Polish Football Association was considering Grzegorz G. to referee in the 2010 World Cup.

About 170 people from The Polish Football Association have been charged with corruption since there was a lawsuit presented in Wroclaw court December of last year. The corruption investigation has been going on since May of 2005.

December 09, 2008

FA closed match-fixing inquiry

The English Football Association (FA) has closed its inquiry into allegations related to unusual online-betting patterns in Asia at a Championship match between Derby County and Norwich City dated 4 October.

According to the FA, there was no evidence to suggest any irregularities around the progress or result of the game.

"Both clubs said from the start that they were totally innocent of any wrongdoing," Derby County spokesman Matt McCann told the BBC.

December 05, 2008

Betfair Furthers Involvement in UK Horse Racing with Ascot

Betfair has been announced as the new sponsor of the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes following a seven-figure five year agreement with Ascot, part of a wide-reaching commercial partnership between the two parties. It is the first time in three years that the showpiece event has carried a sponsor and continues Betfair's recent investment in the horseracing industry worldwide.

Ascot’s late July meeting will now be presented as the ‘Betfair Weekend featuring The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes' and will be run for £1 million for the first time ever in 2009, compared to £850,000 in this year's event.

Charles Barnett, Ascot Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Betfair in this exciting agreement primarily, of course, through their sponsorship of our premier race, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the highlight of what will now be Betfair Weekend at Ascot. The King George will be worth £1,000,000 for the first time in 2009, something which we have aspired to for some time and are now able to deliver as a direct result of this partnership.”

As part of the commercial partnership between the two parties, Betfair will also be sponsoring Ascot's most valuable steeplechase, the Betfair Ascot Chase in February, and will provide annual branding around the site including stalls branding on the Friday of Royal Ascot.

The Betfair Ascot Chase, run this year as the Commercial First Ascot Chase and won by Kauto Star, will complement the Betfair Chase, run at Haydock in November, and is likely to form part of the Betfair Million bonus in future seasons. The Betfair Million pound bonus is offered to any horse finishing first, second, or third in the Betfair Chase, who then places first or second in any race at the Cheltenham Festival, and finally wins the Grand National at Aintree.

Stephen Burn, Betfair’s Director of Horseracing said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Ascot on this ground-breaking agreement, especially as it will take us up to and beyond the course's historic tercentenary in 2011."

“The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes is one of the world's great races and, while its sponsorship is the cornerstone of this initiative, there are considerable further elements to our partnership and we are looking forward to working with Ascot, and its other partners, to find new ways of integrating our cutting-edge technology. We also have the opportunity to create a ‘Betfair Lounge’ on site at Ascot.

“Across the world, Betfair is working with racing industries to help attract new customers and revenue streams to the sport. We are confident that this Ascot partnership will be a blueprint for how racecourses and Betfair can work together for the benefit of each other and our customers," he added.

December 03, 2008

LFP is concerned with new claims of corruption

New claims of corruption have surfaced within the Spanish Football League, following the release of a transcripted conversation that took place between a club official and player last season.

The discussion, which was revealed by Spanish newspaper El Mundo and reported by PA Sport, indicates that the player in question was bribed to fix a match.

In a recent statement, Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) Chief Press Officer Juan Carlos Santamaria confirmed that the league is “very concerned” about the events at hand, indicating that it would be pursuing a series of investigations about this and other incidents in order to preserve the reputation of La Liga.

Although the LFP is permitted to explore the issues, disciplinary action will be left in the hands of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), sparking Santamaria to express his concerns about the lack of power behind the body. He went on to note that LFP has been discussing the issue with the Ministry of Sport in an attempt to bring more control to the league.

The LFP is now pushing for laws to be implemented against all forms of dishonesty in the league, including corruption and bribery.

November 28, 2008

Sportingbet looks to live streaming to increase revenue

Sportingbet is set to grow its sportsbook revenue through a focus on live streaming of sporting events for its key markets, the company said today in its first quarter trading update.

The company launched its live streaming on 29 October and said raw data showed there had been an increase of between 5% and 10% in total gaming revenues.

Jim Wilkinson, Sportingbet’s finance director, said the company suffered an initial drop in margins on in-running betting after launching the feature, but those margins had “recovered to the previous levels as we increased the number of markets we offered in-running”.

Sportingbet announced a 45% rise in operating profits for the three months to 31 October, and said it was “cautiously optimistic” it would meet the Group’s full year forecast, despite fears of a recession.

Andrew McIver, Sportingbet’s chief executive, said these results showed the group had made a solid start to the new financial year.

“Whilst sports betting has historically shown itself to be ‘recession hardy’, no industry is ‘recession proof’,” he said. “That said, customer metrics remained very robust both during the quarter and in the four weeks since it ended.”

Wilkinson added that the industry would be affected by the recession but Sportingbet had an advantage in that it operated in markets where levels of broadband penetration were low compared to Western Europe.

The operator reported a 28% rise in net gaming revenue to £38.9m, up from £30.4m for the same period last year.

Sportingbet also reported a 25.4% rise in gross win to 364.9m, up from 290.9m in 2007. Operating profit was up 45.2%, to £6.1m, and EBITDA rose 42.9% to £8m. The group reported a pre-tax profit of £4.9m, compared with a loss of £1.4m for the three months to October 2007. As at 31 October, the group reported £41.8m of cash and other liquid resources on its balance sheet.

In Europe, net gaming revenue from sports betting was up 19% on the previous year, while the Australian business saw a 97% growth, almost doubling to £7.1m for the quarter due in part to the relaxation of advertising restrictions in new South Wales and Victoria.

The group also reported strong figures for casino and games, with net gaming revenue up 34%, which the group said was helped by a strong flow of customers recruited via its sport sites. Poker revenues, however continued to fall, with NGR down 4% on the previous year, which Sportingbet attributed to difficulties competing with US-facing poker sites. Talks with the US Department of Justice were progressing, according to Wilkinson.

The operator reported positive growth from its Spanish, Greek and Eastern European markets, but said it continued to struggle in the UK and Italy due to overservicing of the markets and expensive media environments. Sportingbet's overall margins in its European markets are around 10.7% and those experienced during the live streaming of sports events were 9.4%, Wilkinson said.

Sportingbet also reported a 42% fall in gaming revenues in the Turkish market as a result of downsizing its activities in the region. Going forward, the group plans to launch a sports betting operation in the South African market, as well as expand further into the European football markets.

Betsson Says Swedish Authorities Gambling with Taxpayers Money

Betsson has warned Swedish gaming authorities that they risk a claim for damages from the company, after the County Administrative Court of Södermanland rejected Betsson’s appeal of an injunction against its Swedish retail outlet, Shopsson.

The company said that it would appeal against the County Administrative Court’s ruling regarding the betting shop to the Administrative Court of Appeal, as it believes the shop complies with EC-law.

The shop in Stockholm has been in operation for six months and became the subject of enforcement action by the country’s Lottery Inspection for promoting the activities of, an entity classified as an illegal gambling provider under Swedish gaming law.

In July of this year the Lottery Inspection imposed a fine of SEK2.5 million on Shopsson to force it to end its advertising of

In its ruling of November 7th, the County Administrative Court rejected both Betsson’s appeal of the Lottery Inspection’s injunction and the request to obtain a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice. The ruling flies in the face of earlier decisions by Swedish prosecutors and public courts, including the Supreme Court and Svea High Court, which have found that the Lottery Act may be incompatible with European law.

Betsson maintains that the shop is compliant with European law and has therefore decided to appeal the ruling to the Administrative Court of Appeal.

“We have to appeal given the juridical situation,” said Betsson CEO Pontus Lindwall. “As the state now risks a claim for damages, the Lottery Inspection and the County Administrative Court are gambling with taxpayer’s money.

“Since we are pleased with the outcome of the shop we have no intention to shut it down. In addition to placed bets, which have continuously increased during the autumn, the shop gives us a possibility to meet with our customers and give them a unique service. We already have a number of regular customers who appreciate the possibility to place bets with better odds in a physical environment,” added Lindwall.

Shares in Betsson AB (STO:BETS-B) are trading up 1.66% in Stockholm this morning at SEK61.25.

Stanleybet Files Formal Complaint Against Italy with EC

Stanleybet International has filed a formal complaint with the European Commission denouncing a number of legislative, administrative and judicial measures by the Italian State following the recent new concession re-awarded to Sisal SpA for the Superenalotto prize game, the richest and most popular of all gaming products offered in Italy.

Stanleybet's complaint relates to the concession being awarded under a tender which excluded operators other than the three main Italian lottery and betting operators, Lottomatica, Sisal and Snai.

According to Stanleybet every gaming operator was confronted with terms of tender to which no reasonable entrepreneur could choose to commit to, other than the three main Italian operators.

Considering the terms of the tender, in respect of historic gaming turnover, size and type of network and financial guarantees to be provided, Stanleybet said it was not a surprise that potential applicants considered the tender as “pre-awarded”, and therefore no operator or any other major lottery applied to run one of the largest lotteries in the world.

Stanleybet said that after more than four years of litigation, the company's applications to have access to the management and distribution of the Superenalotto game have been completely frustrated by the Italian authorities.

By contrast, Sisal SpA, who secured the exclusive Superenalotto concession without any public tender in 1996 until 2001, was re-awarded the concession in 2008, through a tender from which Stanleybet International was barred. The concession will expire in 2017.

John Whittaker, Managing Director of Stanleybet International, said: “The Italian authorities have once again demonstrated a total disregard for EU law in relation to competition and public procurement rules. We will continue to defend our legally enshrined rights to offer our services and to denounce unjustified restrictions to those rights wherever they occur.

"Despite all its claims, Italy is still a long way away from being compliant with the EU Treaty. It should remedy the situation immediately. We call upon the European Commission to investigate the complaint speedily and to do all it can to resolve this inequity.”

Earlier this month Stanleybet International launched The Fair Play for Sports Betting campaign calling for a fair, open and equal access to European markets for all EU-based sports betting operators.

November 26, 2008

Bundesliga sponsorship outnumbered Premier League

The German Bundesliga has gained impressive status in the world of shirt sponsorship, following a recent announcement that its total related income outnumbered that of the English Premier League.

While the German football league may not be functioning at full capacity, Bayern Munich now holds the reigns in the most valuable shirt deal, beating out Manchester United.

In its tenth annual European Jersey report, SPORT+MARKT indicated that economic conditions are directly influencing England’s sponsorship deals because of the current value of the GBP against the EUR. Ongoing market changes can also be held responsible for the decrease in shirt sponsorship deals across the six primary European leagues. Since last season, the numbers have fallen by about EUR 12 million, a first for the leagues.

In a statement issued by The Times, SPORT+MARKT Executive Director Hartmut Zastrow confirmed the facts, stating that a weakened British pound is at the source of the Premier League’s shirt sponsorship decline. He also pointed out the fact that XL airlines, sponsor to West Ham United, has gone bankrupt, in addition to West Bromwich’s ongoing quest for a sponsor.

Despite the fact that in recent years, an increasing number of financial institutions have replaced the more traditional types of sponsors in Europe, Zastrow expects to see another shift take place on account of the economic crisis. He further noted that if the British pound regains its strength, the Premier League will very likely resume its role as shirt sponsorship leader.

November 25, 2008

EU Member States may look to harmonise egaming regulation

EU Member States may be shifting their stance on online gaming and look to find a common approach to regulating the sector and in the process end years of deadlock when it comes to finding a harmonised EU-wide policy for the sector, according to Reuters.

A copy of the EU document obtained by the news agency stated: "While the legal frameworks differ, there are significant similarities in the member states' objectives as regards gambling and betting." European ministers will discuss the document on December 1, with some changes anticipated from states strongly opposed to any kind of opening of their gaming sector.

The issues that will be debated will include cooperation between national regulatory bodies to combat money laundering and fraud and corruption, a cap on pay-outs to players and an end to “double-taxation by taxing gaming where it takes place”.

France, currently holding the EU presidency, said there were “already grounds for seeking a common approach” back in July and French budget minister Eric Woerth recently said “Europe” may have to look at finding a regulatory solution for allowing the industry to work across borders and countries.

Others in the online gaming industry have interpreted this as a delaying tactic by the French, who are due to submit their draft regulation for the controlled opening of their online betting sector next month. But Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association, told Reuters: “In the end it's going to be back to the Commission to decide if it can take any further steps or if there is any need to do something new or different in the issue."

A dozen EU states are said to be supportive of the common approach to regulating in Europe although Britain and Malta were critical, Reuters said.

November 21, 2008

Bwin enters partnership with French media group; focus on pure growth for 2009

Bwin has entered into a joint venture agreement with the French media company Amaury Group in anticipation of the controlled opening of the French online betting market next year, Bwin revealed this morning as it published its third quarter trading update.

Amaury Group publications include the daily sports paper L’Equipe, newspaper Le Parisien as well as France Football magazine and the cycling publication Vélo Magazine.

Its offshoot Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) organises sporting events such the Tour de France, the world’s most popular cycling race, the Paris-Dakar rally and the Paris Marathon.

Bwin will offer the brands in the Amaury Group its full range of online gaming products allowed by French legislation and services including payment, security and customer retention management.

Bwin said third quarter trading had been affected by the seasonal drop in activity in the sporting calendar but that the first weeks of fourth quarter trading had already shown a rise in betting activity as the sporting seasons got under way across Europe.

The company said it expected significant improvement in results in 2009, with gross gaming revenues reaching between €430m and €445m and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, debt and amortisation (EBITDA) of at least €100m, thanks to a reduction in operating and marketing expenses.

On the sports front, Bwin said the growing popularity of its live betting segment was shifting the turnover ratio from conventional sports betting to live betting, this resulted in lower sports betting margins for the company. With results being favourable to punters during the quarter, this meant a one percentage point drop in margins, or €6.9m below expectations. Bwin set future range for margins at between 7% and 9%.

Bwin’s poker network business was growing market share, the company said, but its own brands PokerRoom and EuroPoker had performed below expectations and the various different poker labels in the Ongame-Bwin network will be bundled into Bwin Poker during the first quarter of 2009 to benefit from the Bwin brand and improved cost efficiency.

Bwin said it expected significant improvements in results in 2009 thanks to its investment in technology, marketing and brand building. It will now enter a phase of consolidation and cost-cutting to achieve the 2009 results it has set itself. The cost cutting will reach €40m in operating and marketing expenses during 2009 and the company will focus on growing its existing markets while being less aggressive in its expansion strategy to increase cash flow.

Financial highlights revealed third quarter gross gaming revenues were up 11.2% to €95.9 million, compared with €86.2m during the same period in 2007, gross sports betting revenues rose 7.7% to €51m, compared with €47.3m in 2007. Sports betting margins dropped to 7.4%, from 8.5% during the third quarter of 2007.

Quarterly net gaming revenues were up 10.9% to €83.7m, from €75.5m in 2007 and adjusted EBITDA dropped to €9.6m during the period, compared with €15.2m last year. Bwin recorded a quarterly loss after tax €7m, compared with a loss of €5m in 2007.

For the nine month period from January to September, Bwin achieved a record rise in gross gaming revenues of 20.6% to €303m, compared with €251.3m during the same period last year. Gross sports betting revenues were up 26.7% to €170.9m from €134.8m in 2007 and the company enjoyed sports betting margins of 8.0%, compared with 8.4% in 2007.

Nine monthly net gaming revenues were up 18.1% to €263.6m, from €223.2m in 2007, adjusted EBITDA was down €3.7m in 2007 to €46m and the company made after tax losses of €2.7m during the period, compared with a loss of €0.8m over the same period last year.

November 19, 2008

Shuffling the cards: Math does the trick

Here’s the rule: To assure cards get sufficiently mixed up, shuffle a deck about seven times. Mathematician, magician and card shark Persi Diaconis of Stanford University, along with David Bayer of Columbia University, created shock waves in Las Vegas when he figured that out back in 1992. Most dealers had been shuffling much less.

But now Diaconis and his colleagues are issuing an update. When dealing many gambling games, like blackjack, about four shuffles are enough. The reason for the lower number is that many games require randomness for only a few specific aspects of the cards, not all. In blackjack, for example, suits don’t matter. Diaconis and his collaborators extended the earlier analysis to account for these variations.

Gamblers and casinos aren’t the only ones who will benefit. One the most useful tools for applied mathematicians — the Monte Carlo simulation — was inspired by the games of chance that are main attractions in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The new card-shuffling results apply directly to this method, promising to save mathematicians computer time.

Shuffling starts by cutting the deck roughly in half. During the shuffling, a few cards fall from one side, then a few from the other. Diaconis, Sami Assaf of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and K. Soundararajan of Stanford University made the same assumption Diaconis and his collaborator Dave Bayer made back in 1992, that the cards are more likely to fall from the larger stack — an assumption borne out in real life.

Assaf started by using a very small deck, just four cards, and played with it a lot. Then she tried five, then six. From her experiments, she guessed a formula for how mixed the cards were, for whatever property she cared about. Then she worked out a proof.

The formulas she generated, though, were a mess. “We couldn’t actually calculate them,” she says. “We would have had to run the computer for 64 years or something like that.”

So she took each messy, complicated formula to Diaconis and Soundarajan, and for each they found a simple, easy-to-compute equation that approximated it. “We found a beautiful simple pattern,” Diaconis says. “There’s no reason this problem should have a nice answer. I’m not a religious person, but this is as close as I get.”

Previous researchers, specifically Mark Conger and Divakar Viswanath of the University of Michigan, had used computer simulations to work out some of these results. What makes the new approach from Diaconis and his colleagues stand out is that it can be applied to many different card games, using any number of cards. Even better, it can be used for situations far removed from cards, like Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations, a technique that has revolutionized applied mathematics over the past few decades.

Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations harness the power of randomness to solve all kinds of problems that don’t seem random at all. For example, prison officials once asked other mathematicians at Stanford for help decoding a collection of messages. The mathematicians guessed it had been made with a simple substitution cipher, where each symbol corresponded to a letter of the alphabet. The easiest way to solve substitution ciphers is by associating the most frequently used symbol with the most frequently used letter in English (e), the next most frequently used symbol with the next most frequently used letter (t), an so on. But that method failed.

The mathematicians then moved to the next level of sophistication, looking at the frequency of pairs of letters. They downloaded a copy of War and Peace and used it to build a table, showing the frequency with which one letter follows another. This table had 26 columns and 26 rows, and 26 times 26 equals far too many for deciphering by hand.

So the mathematicians used a Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulation. They built a simple program that chose a random letter to associate with each symbol. It then decoded the message using that substitution cipher and calculated how probable it was that the resulting pairs of letters in the decoded message would follow one another. It repeated the process with another random substitution cipher. If the new one was more probable, it picked it. If not, it usually kept the original one, but occasionally switched to the new one. After a thousand or so iterations, it had decoded the message — even though the message was written in a mix of English, Spanish and prison jargon.

One of the tricks is recognizing when the simulation can stop, and Diaconis’ new result for shuffling can help with that. Choosing a new random solution in a Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulation is a bit like a shuffle of the cards. The methods Diaconis has developed to recognize when a dealer can safely stop shuffling the cards can also tell when the computer can stop running the simulation.

“We’re all enthusiastic,” Diaconis says, “because you can describe it to your mom, the math is hard, and the results are interesting.”

November 16, 2008

Republicans Try to Tie Obama's Hands by Rushing in UIGEA Regulations

Congressman Barney Frank has written to US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, asking them to postpone the issuing of regulations relating to the implementation of the UIGEA. Frank's letter comes in response to reports that the Bush Administration is trying to push through regulations to enforce the ban before President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.

In his letter, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank says: "I am deeply disappointed to hear that your agency is proceeding with what I consider to be unseemly haste in issuing regulations implementing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. This midnight rulemaking will tie the hands of the new Administration, burden the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis, and contradict the stated intent of the Financial Services Committee."

Mr Frank urged Mr Paulson to "delay implementation of these major, and deeply flawed regulations to permit the incoming Administration the ability to review the consequences of such a significant policy decision, rather than unfairly being denied that opportunity."

The Bush Administration is said to be working to finalise the regulations at the last minute before they can be stopped by the new Democratic Administration, an orchestrated move being linked to a former National Football League lobbyist now working for the Republicans. The NFL has actively campaigned against online gaming and any clarification of the UIGEA and has opposed legislation introduced by Rep. Barney Frank to regulate the industry.

Last week Congressman Steve Cohen asked White House Counsel Fred Fielding to detail what role former lobbyist William Wichterman, now Deputy Director of Public Liaison, played in the Treasury's decision to send the proposed UIGEA rules to the Office of Management and Budget for final review on October 20th. In a November 7th letter to Mr Fielding, Mr Cohen said he had been told that Mr Wichterman "has been a source of considerable political pressure to speed this regulation through.''

Mr Wichterman recently left the law firm of Covington and Burling, which represents the NFL, to serve as a political appointee in the few remaining months of the Bush Administration.

"At a time when the financial system is in crisis, it is irresponsible for the Bush Administration to rush through a fundamentally flawed regulation that even representatives of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve have stated on record is unworkable," said Jeffrey Sandman, spokesman for the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative. "We are sceptical of the Administration's motivation to get this done at the very last minute, especially given the apparent involvement of a NFL lobbyist turned Bush appointee."

The Bush Administration had previously made a commitment not to issue final regulations after November 1st 2008 except in "extraordinary circumstances." A delay in issuance of the final regulations was also expected given the September passage of the Payment System Protection Act by the House Financial Services Committee. The legislation would have delayed UIGEA implementation in order to develop regulations that do not harm the payments system.

"The Bush Administration is setting a horrible precedent of pushing through flawed regulations at the very last minute to deliberately circumvent the in-coming administration, leaving already struggling banks and financial companies to implement costly and poorly crafted regulations,” said Mr Sandman.

Representatives of the Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve System had previously acknowledged the challenges U.S financial institutions will face in attempting to comply with UIGEA in testimony before Congress in April.
Since most payment systems are not designed to comply with this law, "it will be very difficult to shut off payment systems for use of Internet gambling transactions," said Ms Louise Roseman, Director, Division of Federal Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "The implementing statute will not be iron clad at all."

November 15, 2008

Ladbrokes Goes Back to Court to Fight Norwegian Gaming Monopoly

Ladbrokes has said it will continue its fight to legally provide sports betting services in Norway as it launched an appeal against the rejection of its Norwegian sports betting licence application. The appeal comes after the Oslo City Court ruled last month that Ladbrokes was not allowed to offer its gambling services in competition with the Norwegian monopoly.
In 2004 Ladbrokes applied unsuccessfully for a licence to offer gambling services in Norway. The refusal to grant it a licence led Ladbrokes to initiate legal proceedings against Norway, claiming that it breached the Rome treaty, EC directives and the EFTA agreement.

In October the District Court of Oslo ruled against Ladbrokes and found the Norwegian law on gambling to be fully compliant with the EFTA agreement and European obligations. Ladbrokes was ordered to pay the Norwegian State's legal costs of NOK1.1 million.

John O'Reilly, Ladbrokes' Managing Director, Remote Betting and Gaming said: “We are appealing the judgement because the court's assessment of the evidence doesn't relate directly to our case. Vital aspects in the EFTA-law court judgment of May 2007 have not been taken into consideration, and the judgment is solely built on the national “slot machine case” of March 2007 which is not relevant to our application.

"The monopoly laws in Norway conflict with the EU Treaty, particularly with regard to the principles of freedom of establishment and the free movement of services. We continue to challenge for our right to be regulated in Norway and to provide free and fair competition to the monopoly."

Jan Magne Juuhl-Langseth, the counsel for Ladbrokes in Norway, added: “Ladbrokes have decided to appeal, particularly because the City Court has not assessed the Norwegian monopoly in the light of the guidance given previously by the EFTA-court in Luxembourg.”

“Just because a monopoly is considered legitimate by the Norwegian state, doesn’t make it right. We are looking forward to see our case being tested in the Court of Appeal," said Lasse Dilschmann CEO of Ladbrokes Nordics.

November 14, 2008

US issues final rule to implement UIGEA

The US Treasury and Federal Reserve yesterday issued the joint final rule to implement the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It will require "US financial firms that participate in designated payment systems to establish and implement policies that are reasonably designed to prevent payments to businesses in connection with unlawful Internet gambling".

Companies have until 1 December 2009 to comply with the new rule.

The news comes days after Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, called on US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to delay the issuing of the rule because of the lack of definition as to what constitutes unlawful internet gambling and the burden it will place on US financial institutions “at a time of economic crisis”. Republican lawmakers have been pressuring the Bush administration to implement these rules before leaving office in January next year.

Payments made through credit cards, electronic fund transfers and cheques will all be affected. According to the Treasury’s statement, “the rule provides non-exclusive examples of such policies and procedures and sets out the regulatory enforcement framework. For the purposes of the rule, unlawful Internet gambling generally would cover the making of a bet or wager that involves use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any applicable federal or state law in the jurisdiction where the bet or wager is initiated, received, or otherwise made.”

Frank said the administration of president-elect Barack Obama should be left to decide whether to implement UIGEA. He said: "This midnight rulemaking will tie the hands of the new administration, burden the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis and contradict the stated intent of the Financial Services Committee. Furthermore, some of the information needed to make this determination would likely be unavailable to banks because customers or financial institutions in foreign jurisdictions will likely be unwilling or unable to provide it."

While acknowledging that the new rule was more than a year late in being brought out, Spencer Bachus, Republican representative for Alabama, told Reuters: “No longer will the offshore gambling interests benefit from any turning any computer into a casino that is available every minute of the day."

Greek Police Raid Second Stanleybet Shop

Stanleybet has this morning confirmed that Greek police have raided the company’s second betting shop in Thessaloniki, arresting three customers as well as Stanleybet intermediary Theodoros Lazaridis on Saturday. This follows similar action taken by the Greek police last Thursday against the company's other sports betting shop in Athens.
All four persons arrested were charged with violating Greek sports betting monopoly legislation and held in custody overnight. However, the prosecutor, deviating from normal procedure, released them without subjecting them to a Court hearing and instead ordered a further investigation. Stanleybet said that the Greek authorities acted in 'direct contravention of EU law'.

Trading was interrupted as the authorities removed vital computer equipment which remains impounded.

Adrian Morris, Deputy Managing Director, Stanleybet International said: “This action, to arrest Mr Lazaridis and three citizens, is clearly contrary to established European law and ECJ jurisprudence.

“Furthermore we have a discriminatory situation where the Greek State is persecuting ordinary citizens who enter a shop to bet, without taking similar action against all those who bet online. It is now vital that the European Commission urgently addresses this unlawful behaviour and specifically pursues the outstanding infringement procedure.

“The decision of the Prosecutors to release everyone, without conducting formal indictment proceedings allows the re-opening of our outlet. This is a clear indication that the Greek authorities consider that our business model is legitimate under European law, and that there are flaws in the Greek’s own restrictive domestic legislation. The European Commission must act to ensure that an abuse of the rule of law does not continue.”

Last Thursday Stanleybet International intermediary Alexandros Vasdekis was arrested and later released without charge at the company’s betting shop in Athens.

Stanleybet International asserts that under Article 49 of the EU Treaty the company has the right to offer cross-border sports betting services. This right has been upheld by the European Court of Justice, most notably in the landmark Gambelli and Placanica rulings in which Stanleybet International was the substantive party.

Greece is one of ten European Union countries whose sports betting legislation is subject to infringement proceedings by the European Commission as being contrary to European law. Greece received a Reasoned Opinion from the European Commission in February 2008 that its monopolistic restrictions and penal sanctions in its sports betting legislation are inconsistent and disproportionate with EU law. The next stage is expected to be a referral to the European Court of Justice.

Ladbrokes' profits up 10% despite "challenging economic conditions"

Ladbrokes has revealed that group profit excluding telephone high rollers increased by 10% in the four months to 31 October, “despite challenging economic conditions.” Group gross win increased by 12% during the period.

Egaming net revenues increased 22% during the period, with strong growth across the sportsbook, casino and games, which the company said reflected its ongoing strategy of investing in new customer acquisition. The company said that poker performance “continues to reflect the highly competitive market”, and added that it was looking forward to joining the Microgaming network in the New Year.

UK retail gross win increased by 5%, with machine gross win rising by 14%, and the average weekly gross win per gaming machine rising to £677 compared to £586 for the same period in 2007. Over the counter gross win remained flat, “significantly impacted” by a run of poor results in the last two weeks of the period. Telephone betting net revenue, excluding revenue from high rollers, fell by 12%.

The company said the rate of shop openings in Italy, where it currently has 66 shops, has been slower than anticipated, but said it expected all to be fully operational by the year end. It added that the strike within the Italian horse racing industry which has been impacting recent trading has now been resolved. The company also opened an additional 20 outlets in Spain over the period, bringing Ladbrokes’ presence in the province of Madrid to 34.

Ladbrokes’ chief executive, Chris Bell, said, "Although a run of poor football and horse race results at the end of the period has affected performance, the group remains within the market expectation range for 2008."

Ladbrokes also announced that will shortly apply for leave, along with a group of bookmakers including William Hill and BetFred, to appeal against the ruling in its court case with Amalgamated Racing (AMRAC) and other parties, which alleged anti-competitive behaviour of the defendants in the course of creating Turf TV. The bookmakers claimed at the time of bringing the original legal action against AMRAC in September 2007 that the higher cost of providing Turf TV to their betting outlets compared to those under an arrangement with former supplier Satellite Information Services (SIS) was costing them an extra £50m a year.

Paddy Power on track with 2008 forecasts but economic pressures biting

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power is on track to achieve underlying operating profit forecasts for 2008 of €75m but said the deteriorating economic conditions in the UK and Ireland were having an effect on the group’s results.

In a trading update for the 19 week period from 1 July to 10 November, the company said it was responding by providing outstanding value and markets to customers and keeping a close rein on costs.

The online gaming channel’s contribution rose to over 60% of the group’s operating profit during the period. Online gaming gross win, the amounts staked less the amounts returned to customers as winnings, grew by 15%; the amount staked on online and telephone betting grew by 13% during the period. This was broadly in line with expectations after exceptionally high growth in the first half of 2008 against softer comparatives, the company said.
Turnover for Paddy Power’s retail outlets declined during the period, 9% in both Ireland and the UK in October. This was partly due to the firm’s competitive advantage of being able to show Turf TV pictures during the comparative period. Machine gross win in the UK grew strongly, with like-for-like growth of 22% during the period.

In accordance with the guidance Paddy Power gave in August and assuming a normal run of sporting results until the end of the year, the firm’s annual trading should translate into earnings per share growth of around 10% over 2007, notwithstanding the fact that sterling depreciation is expected to reduce operating profit by approximately €5m this year. The group has no debt and €72m on its balance sheet as of the end of October, “a position of excellent financial strength and flexibility in the current environment”, it said.

Paddy Power said its operating profit would drop by €9m-€10m in 2009 because the rate of betting tax payable on bets placed in Irish outlets will double from 1% to 2% from 1 January 2009.

November 12, 2008

Crypto surprises industry with Boss tie-up

CryptoLogic is to merge its poker network with Boss Media's International Poker Network (IPN) from the first quarter of 2009. CryptoLogic revealed a poker tie-up was on the cards with another platform recently when it announced that it would focus on its casino licensing business, leading to widespread speculation that PartyGaming would be the partner poker network.

The migration of its poker operations and customers to the Boss Media network is expected to generate savings for CryptoLogic of between US$12m and US$15m per year. Chief executive Brian Hadfield said the deal represented “a major step in our journey back to growth, profitability and returning shareholder value”, while Atul Bali, president of Boss parent company GTech’s New Media & Sports Betting, said the deal would deliver some much-needed liquidity to the networks: “We are delighted to welcome these customers and their players to our network and significantly increase the liquidity for our new enhanced player base," he said.

CryptoLogic poker licensees, including the InterPoker and Parbet brands, are on schedule to join the IPN in early 2009, St Minver, another GTech subsidiary, will provide a fully managed customer management solution to Crypto's poker licensees.

November 10, 2008

Potential West Ham sponsor in match-fixing prob

English West Ham United football club is in advanced negotiations with betting company SBOBet regarding an 18-month contract for shirt sponsorship worth around GBP 2 million.

Philippines-based SBOBet is one of the companies in the center of the Football Association's match-fixing investigation regarding the October 4 match between Norwich City and Derby County.

SBOBet have refused to cooperate with the FA and provide trading information related to the match, deeming such a move is an "excessive" breach of customer privacy.

The deal is due to replace the previous three-year shirt sponsor arrangement with XL, worth GBP 2.5 million per season, which fell through after one year due to the collapse of the company.

November 07, 2008

Stanleybet launches campaign for fair and open access to EU markets

Stanleybet International today launched its Fair Play For Sports Betting campaign, calling for fair, open and equal access to all European markets for all EU-based sports betting operators.

The campaign was launched at the European Parliament with an open letter from the campaign’s director, Adrian Morris, to the president of the European Commission, calling on Jose Manuel Barosso to prevent member states "further delaying, through political manoeuvring, the opening of their sports betting markets and to enforce compliance with the principles of EU law."

In the letter, Morris highlights several member states’ current non-compliance with the European Court of Justice’s 2003 ruling in the Gambelli case, which recognised the right of a sports betting operator legally established in one member state to provide those services in another. The Gambelli ruling was widely seen as the first step towards a level playing field for both state-owned or controlled and private sports betting operators.

“Member states continued to act in an unfair, disproportionate and politically motivated way and to deny their citizens access to competitive betting services”, said Morris. “Rather than following European law, they are seeking to opt out of it. The European Commission, as the defender of the EU Treaty, has not only the legal right to intervene, but, more importantly, the duty to do so,” he added.

Potential supporters can find out more and register at

Sportech profits dip; distribution agreements to drive continued growth

Sportech has announced in a five-month trading update that it anticipates full-year pre-tax profit for 2008 to dip below current market expectations due to the cost of launching its online football business and the migration of its non-football content to the 888 platform.

However, the company said the figure would represent a considerable increase on last year’s performance, and said it was confident of building on the “significant progress” made over the five-month period from July to September 2008, which saw the company become a net recruiter of customers “for the first time in recent history.”

Having recruited more than 15,000 customers to its online football business in the 11 weeks since the start of the football season, the company said it expected this trend to continue next month when a selection of its games goes live across the Ladbrokes betting shop estate, and from January 2009 to the 4.9m registered customers of

Looking ahead, the company said that with “many of the challenging operational and financial initiatives completed”, it believed its position “as a high-volume, small-value ticket gaming business” placed it in on advantageous footing to weather any economic downturn.

The company also announced today that it had undertaken a “strategically important” acquisition of football community website for £600,000, with the aim of using the site to cross-sell and market the full suite of Sportech football games.

November 04, 2008

Manchester United optimistic about future sponsorship

David Gill, chief executive of English Manchester United, is assured that the club will be able to land a sponsorship contract in 2010 that will measure up to the shirt deal with AIG, worth GBP 14 million per year. "There are still some very successful, profitable, growing companies around the world," Gill told PA.

Manchester United has already acquired four profitable sponsorships in less than a year, the most recent being Hublot, Swiss watchmaker.

The four-year contract with AIG has reached its third year, and is continuing despite the financial institution's need of a rescue from the United States Government as a result of the credit crisis. Renewal of the deal is unlikely, which means United will be seeking new shirt sponsors in 2010.

AIG will be settling the outstanding funds owed to the club beyond the expiration date of the contract, Gill explains.

Manchester United owe GBP 666 million, which means that should the club under-perform or lose a sponsor, they could enter a financial hardship. According to Gill, the addition of new players, such as Dimitar Berbatov, ensure that the situation won't come to that.

The club believes that football is still an attractive investment opportunity.

October 30, 2008

PKR and Launch Singles Poker, the 3D online poker room today announced it has partnered with online dating site to hold a series of poker tournaments where single men and women can meet and play poker this November.

The series will be launched at the Hoxton Pony bar in London on Thursday Nov. 6. Then from Nov. 17 the nights will feature a freeroll followed by three low buy-in tournament. To attend players must register at and

PKR marketing director, Simon Prodger said, “Poker is a very social game and we know our players actively chat both in the game and on our forums. We’ve seen romance bloom on PKR and so partnering with a site like Lovestruck that caters to young, outgoing professionals is perfect for us.”

October 29, 2008

Valencia signed shirt deal with Unibet

Spanish Valencia signed a new shirt sponsorship deal with Swiss based online gaming company Unibet, which will replace the current sponsor Valencia Experience.

The club and Valencia Experience are currently in a legal dispute due to the company's lack of payment.

Both companies, Valencia Experience and Unibet, will be featured on the club's playing kit to the end of the 08/09 season, and Unibet will become the sole sponsor starting from the 09/10 season.

According to Spanish news reports Unibet will pay EUR 1.5 million for the remaining of the current season, and EUR 6 million for the 09/10 season.

Bayern and Bwin work around advertising ban

Through a partnership formed with German Bayern Munich, bwin has found a way to work around the advertising ban stemming from German restrictions. The sports betting company was forced to remove itself from the world of sponsorship last year, as the result of a working relationship with Werder Breman.

The company will now advertise its website,, during Germany-based games, as well as competitions taking place outside of the country. Bayern Munich Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expressed his delight at the newly-formed partnership to, referring to the two partners as a perfect match.

bwin has been involved in various German court cases revolving around operation rights. Within the past month, bwin has gained the right to present its services to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern residents through Gibraltar and East German licenses, while losing its ability to legally offer online gaming goods in Germany.

The German Football Federation (DFL) has indicated that the State Treaty on Gaming causes millions of Euros to be lost in sponsorship revenue each year.

October 25, 2008

Dutch Minister of Justice Adamant: Poker is a Game of Chance

Poker will continue to be considered a game of chance as far as the Dutch Ministry of Justice is concerned. And even if it were to be officially recognised as a game of skill, which it will not, it should never be deregulated.

This is a summary of the answers given by Dutch Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin to fellow lawmakers after a leading professor of probability and mathematical statistics offered a formula to support poker's classification as a skill game.

As reported by Gaming Intelligence Group, Professor Van der Genugten challenged the Dutch Supreme Court's 1998 decision that poker is a game of chance after developing a formula which showed that poker required a higher degree of skill than many other so called games of skill, leading to calls on the Supreme Court to reconsider its classification.

Several Dutch politicians submitted written questions to Hirsch Ballin as a result, asking whether the status of poker should be reconsidered or not.

In his response the Justice Minister said the Dutch state will continue to take action against illegal poker operators, referring to research conducted in 2007 by both the Dutch Gaming Control Board and the University of Twenty which confirmed that poker has a relatively high risk of addiction. As a result, he said the state monopoly of Holland Casino remains valid from the point of view of player protection.

Ballin added that he sees no reason whatsoever to request the Supreme Court to revise the status of poker, and pointed out that poker is currently considered a game of chance in 33 European countries.

Not only will poker in Holland remain a game of chance despite evidence to the contrary, but restrictions on online poker will also become more draconian. Mr. Ballin said discussions between financial institutions and the Ministry of Justice on blocking transactions to and from illegal gaming providers was making steady progress.

He said that the large number of parties and intermediaries involved in transaction processing as well as laws relating to privacy made the process extremely complex, however a satisfactory result was expected.

Ballin added that if gambling operators and their intermediaries do not 'assume their responsibility' in this matter, the Ministry of Justice will lodge a complaint against these organisations.

October 24, 2008

UK Government Delays Tote Sale As Recession Looms

The UK government announced yesterday that it will not proceed with the open market sale of the state-owned Tote this autumn due to current market conditions. Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said the Tote would be brought to market 'when conditions are likely to deliver value for the taxpayer and the racing industry'.

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Sutcliffe said it was not appropriate to pursue a sale of the Tote in the current market conditions, and had decided that the Tote should remain in public ownership for the medium-term.

Mr Sutcliffe said: “It is right that the Tote is now given time to grow the business so that any future sale will achieve maximum value. In particular, I would expect the Tote and racing to continue to work closely together for the benefit of the sport and the punter.”

"The government would like to place on record again its warm appreciation of the loyalty and dedication of the Tote’s staff whilst its future has been under consideration,” he added.

The government had previously attempted to sell the Tote to a racing trust in 2005 until it became clear that a sale on that basis risked being denied approval under European state aid and competition rules, as the sale would have been below open market value.

Earlier this year the government confirmed that talks with a racing industry consortium had ended due to the bid not meeting the Tote's market value of £400 million, as set by independent consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

With more than 4,000 employees, over 540 shops and a major presence on the 59 racecourses in Britain, potential suitors for the state-owned bookmaker are thought to include The New Football Pools operator Sportech plc, Gala Coral, Betfred, and Paddy Power plc.

Mr Sutcliffe reaffirmed the government's view that it should remove itself from detailed involvement in the affairs of the racing and bookmaking industries.

Bwin Enjoys a Hat-Trick of Favourable Court Rulings

The long-running legal dispute between bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and Omnia Communication-Centers GmbH which last month led to accusations of industrial espionage by both sides has finally ended in a settlement.

Omnia announced yesterday that they along with Gert Schmidt, the individual at the centre of the spying allegations, had agreed before the Commercial Court in Vienna to stop making untrue statements about bwin illegally offering online gaming services in the Austrian market.

In May 2007 the same court rejected an application by Omnia for a preliminary injunction against bwin that would have prevented it from offering games of chance online in Austria under its Gibraltar gaming licence.

bwin also scored a victory last week in the Higher Regional Court in Munich, which ruled that the State of Bayern cannot legally prohibit bwin from offering sports betting to the State's citizens via the internet.

Finally, a court in Schwerin in the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has ruled that bwin e.K. can offer its products to citizens of the State under the East German licence which it acquired prior to reunification. The court also specifically ruled that the licence held by bwin e.K. authorises it to also provide its services via the internet.

Pay-per-click battle hots up as Google changes gambling ads policy

Search engine giant Google has overturned a long-standing global ban on advertising by online gaming companies on its sites to allow UK and EEA-based gaming companies to advertise their wares to its users in England, Scotland and Wales.

Google UK’s industry leader for entertainment & media, James Cashmore, said the decision to remove the ban, self-imposed in 2004 following a settlement with the US Department of Justice after accepting adverts from online gaming companies, followed a detailed review of its gambling advertising policy “to ensure it is as consistent as possible with local business practices.”

A spokesperson for the company added that a key driver behind the decision had been to bring this policy into line with the relaxed advertising guidelines for online gaming companies introduced under the UK Gambling Act late last year.

The revision of its AdWords policy to allow pay-per-click advertising by all UK companies registered with the Gambling Commission and all EEA companies licensed to advertise by their national regulator is predicted to provide more than £100m in additional revenues per annum for the online search giant.

Google already has between 73% and 85% of the UK paid search advertising market, and would increase its stranglehold on the global market still further if a deal to sell advertising on behalf of ailing rival Yahoo clears the hurdle of a US Department of Justice investigation into whether it would create unfair competitive conditions.

Robert Allan, online marketing manager for Ladbrokes Poker, said that the feeling from within the industry is that MSN and Yahoo will initially lose a lot of revenue as gaming companies reorganise their budgets and strategies to take into account being able to advertise on Google, with its dominant market share of around 80%.

“All gambling companies, which have a set budget for pay-to-click advertising, have now got to decide whether to take away 80% of the money currently allocated to MSN and Yahoo and spend that on Google, or retain that spend on MSN and Yahoo and ask for a substantial increase in the overall budget in accordance with Google’s market share.

"Google is also going to be comparatively more expensive than MSN and Yahoo, as more sites are going to want to appear higher up at Google, because there are so many more clients you can get from it,” he added.

As there were previously no gambling terms allowed on Google, effectively making it a brand new proposition, Allan said Ladbrokes will be keeping a close eye on its competitors over the coming weeks. “We are watching what 888 and all our competitors are doing, gauging whether or not we want to be above them in the sponsored links and finding out how much extra this will be compared to the cost per depositor,” he said.

Speculation rises on Crypto-Party poker tie-up

CryptoLogic's deal to provide PartyGaming with its casino gaming suite is set to usher in a new strategic direction for the company founded on its casino licensing business, according to the software firm.

The company also revealed this strategic shift would involve a partnership with another major poker network, “to increase liquidity while reducing expenses substantially”. PartyGaming is thought to be the operator currently in talks with CryptoLogic.

A spokesperson for PartyGaming:: “We are keeping our options open and this may include seeing whether there is any merit in combining our two businesses.”

Yesterday’s announcement that CryptoLogic had entered into a five-year casino licensing deal with PartyGaming represented welcome news for the company and its shareholders, coming as it did on the back of an earlier announcement that it had lost the contract to provide William Hill with its poker and casino gaming platform to Playtech.

CryptoLogic said it expects the games to be launched in the first quarter of 2009, contributing significantly to next year's revenue streams. PartyGaming is CryptoLogic’s ninth new casino customer so far this year, joining brands such as, Sky Betting and Gaming and Gaming Media Group (The Poker Channel).

CryptoLogic’s chief executive Brian Hadfield said: “This is one of CryptoLogic's biggest customer wins of the year and an endorsement of the branded games element of our new strategy.” PartyGaming's chief executive Jim Ryan added: “This agreement reflects PartyGaming’s strategy to broaden our product base - and grow our player base - through innovative alliances.”

CryptoLogic announced its new strategy will also involve developing branded casino content based on top entertainment brands and expanding its business and relationships in China, Korea and Singapore.

October 22, 2008

PartyGaming adds Wheel of Fortune

PartyGaming, the world’s leading listed online gaming company, today announces a five-year agreement to license a number of branded slot games from WagerWorks Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Game Technology Inc. (“IGT”), a leading global provider of land-based and online gaming solutions. The games to be added under the agreement are Cleopatra®, Monopoly with Pass "Go" Bonus, Cluedo and Wheel of Fortune® Hollywood Edition.

Online versions of each of these games will be added to and as well as a number of PartyGaming’s other gaming sites over the coming months.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of PartyGaming said:

“We are delighted to have secured these market-leading games from WagerWorks for our product suite. Having already established their appeal and performance with players around the world, we hope that through our gaming platform these new games will prove to be popular additions to our games portfolio. The games will complement our other market-leading branded slots, such as The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever, Top Gun, Mission:Impossible and The Terminator that each form part of our ongoing strategy to offer unique and exclusive themed content and provide our players with the best entertainment experience online.”

Paul Mathews, President of WagerWorks, added:

“PartyGaming is one of the world’s leading online gaming companies with a broad product suite. We are pleased to have been selected to provide a number of top performing games to help PartyGaming deliver its long-term strategy. This agreement shows that we have quality games to suit the biggest players in the market. PartyGaming has identified that our games fit well within their portfolio and support the continuing evolution of their product strategy.”

October 18, 2008

Sports revenues help Sportingbet record 23% rise in NGR

Strong sports betting revenue growth helped Sportingbet post a 23% increase in net gaming revenue to £147m for the six months to 31 July, up from £119m a year ago. Operating profit more than trebled to £22.7m, which the company said reflected its successful restructuring following withdrawal from the US market in 2006.

Sports betting revenues, the key driver of the Sportingbet business, rose 45% on the back of an increased product range and a strong performance in Europe and Australia, where net gaming revenues rose by 43% and 54% respectively. Sports betting represented 61% of the group's income, up from 52% last year, which the company said reinforced its strategy of continued investment in that area.

Operational highlights included significant contributions from its investment in emerging Eastern European markets, with the key markets of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria growing by an aggregate of 79% year-on-year, to generate 13% of Group NGR. Investment in the Latin American market also saw Sportingbet establish its business in the region, with Brazil as the focal point.

Chief executive Andy McIver said: “It has been an exciting year for Sportingbet. The completion of the group's restructuring resulted in a more than three-fold increase in adjusted operating profit and leaves us well positioned to capitalise on the strong position we have in many of our markets.”

The company said it had seen no evidence of its business having been impacted by the recent turmoil in the financial sector, and that it anticipated the imminent launch of live sports streaming on its websites alongside other new product launches to continue to drive customer yields and retention throughout the year.

Sportingbet also announced yesterday that the second of its two employees that were detained by the Turkish authorities back in May has been released pending trial, provisionally set for 26 January 2009. Charges have yet to be formalised. The first of the employees was released in July without charge and allowed return to the UK. Sportingbet no longer has any operations in the territory.

October 17, 2008

French Sport's Governing Body Demands Say in Online Gaming Regulation

The French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) yesterday laid out its position with regard to the proposed liberalisation of the French online gaming market, presenting a list of demands that it wants to see incorporated into future legislation.

At the inaugural meeting of the Action Committee on Online Sports Betting, established by CNOSF to represent its interests at a national and European level, the committee demanded a "legitimate financial return" from online sports betting operators.

It said it wanted to see a tax of 2.5% levied on sports bets for the benefit of French sports, comparable to that which is currently applied to the state-owned La Française des Jeux.

The committee, chaired by Christian Bîmes, head of the French tennis federation, also said that the legislation should enable organisers of sporting events to retain the exclusive rights to their exploitation, similar to the system currently in force in the French sports code. This would allow organisers of sports events to sell sports betting rights in the same way as they do TV broadcasting rights, and on an event-by-event basis.

The CNOSF added that as a regulator of French sports, it would also expect to be included in any regulatory body that will be established to oversee the online gaming market in order to ensure that the integrity of sports was maintained. Such a body is expected to be established in early 2009 and to subsequently oversee the licensing process.

Française des Jeux to float next year

State monopoly La Française des Jeux (FDJ) is set to float on the French stock exchange next year. The French government has asked Rothschild to advise on a listing, but has not decided on how much of the company’s capital will be made public.

The French state holds 72% of FDJ, war veterans and other charities own 9.2% of the company, investors own 3% of FDJ, with staff holding 5% of the firm’s capital.

FDJ is preparing for the competitive online betting market place that should be implemented by the end of next year in France. It has already redesigned its lottery product and added extra weekly draws and a higher jackpot for a higher stake of €2 per player. The firm plans to increase its lottery profits by 20% and add 4,000 points of sale by the end of 2010.

ECJ sides with Portuguese monopoly in case against Bwin

Yves Bot, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), said a European state gambling monopoly could be maintained if it met the following four conditions: "That the legislation is justified by overriding reasons relating to the public interest, if it is appropriate for ensuring the attainment of the objectives which it pursues, if it does not exceed what is necessary for attaining them and if it is applied in a non-discriminatory way".

Bot was giving his opinion on the case between European sports betting operator Bwin and Portuguese gambling monopoly La Santa Casa de Misericordia (SCM), over which the ECJ will publish its verdict in early 2009 and refer it back to the Portuguese court in Porto to make a final ruling on.

The ECJ is considering for the first time whether an EU member state can extend a gambling monopoly to the internet and its verdict on the case could be pivotal for the European egaming sector. The case against Bwin and the Portuguese football league, which Bwin has sponsored since 2005 (Bwin Liga), was brought by SCM and referred to the ECJ by the court of first instance in Porto.

SCM argued that sports betting services should only be offered by state-approved monopolies and imposed a fine of €74,500 and €75,000 each on Bwin and the Portuguese football league. The Advocate General said the fine was invalid as the European Commission had not been notified that the Portuguese authorities were applying the European directive 98/48/EC that applies to organising betting through electronic means of communication and could not rule on the issue. SCM has been ordered to refund the fines to Bwin and the Portuguese football league.

However, the Advocate General added that the aim of community law was not to open European countries to gaming and betting services; and an EU member state’s right to restrict the provision of gambling and betting services to a state-approved monopoly could be extended to "all electronic means of communication, in particular the internet”.

Commenting on Bot's opinion, Siegbert Alber, former vice-president of the European Parliament and a former Advocate General of the ECJ, said any restrictions placed on private operators by European states had to be “applied according to EU law principles". He added: "The problem is not a legal one. It is a matter of interpretation of the conditions; this is not a legal issue but one that has to do with political and legislative beliefs."

Alber added that monopolies should not be maintained for the sole motive of profit and that if they were maintained, marketing and advertising activity should be restricted in a major way. Referring to the interpretation of the legislation, he said member states referred to their marketing messages as "information". Alber added that all the controls and obligations currently operated by the state in relation to gaming and betting could be applied by private operators.

October 15, 2008

Betfair gets its 2 millionth customer

Betfair has grown from strength to strength over the past 8 years since it was formed and has not celebrated having customer number 2 million. What makes this even more impressive is that they have made the jump form 1 million to 2 million in only 20 months.

Customer number 2 million was a 59-year old Civil servant from Sweden who had a flutter on the US presidential election and on Wall Street going up or down and he won himself a VIP weekend in London for 2.

“You have to back yourself in life and when my brother showed me the site I could see instantly that it gave me a wide range of choices and I could pick my own odds,” said Ohrman.

“It’s certainly more fun betting on Betfair than it is betting on the stock market at the moment.”

5 million transactions a day are held which is more than all of Europe’s stock exchanges which is very impressive and this is why they are set to win their second Queen’s Award for Enterprise on the 20th of October.

“In a year when we won a Queen’s Award for International Trade, it is fitting that Betfair’s two millionth account comes from outside the UK,” said David Yu, Chief Executive Officer for Betfair.

“Our international customers are already an essential part of our business and they are growing larger in number every day. So, congratulations to Mr Ohrman, he’s joined the world’s biggest online betting community.”

Mangas Capital to acquire NordicBet

Mangas Capital Gaming, the investment firm that acquired a 75% stake in sports betting operator Betclick earlier this year, is in contact with NordicBet with a view to acquiring a majority stake in the Scandinavian-focused site.

According to French media, Mangas Capital chief executive Stéphane Courbit is in exclusive negotiations with the management of NordicBet with a view to completing the acquisition by the end of the year. Once the NordicBet acquisition is completed, Courbit is believed to have his eyes on another European listed operator.

The acquisition of NordicBet, which is strong in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, would be the second such transaction by Courbit’s company and would complement the geographic reach provided by Betclick, which has a strong presence in France, Italy and Spain.

Courbit is pursuing his strategy of creating a strong European-wide network of sports betting operations capable of taking advantage of online betting regulation on the Continent. With strong links to media organisations throughout Europe through his past role as chief executive of Endemol France, Courbit plans to be at the forefront of the industry once it is allowed to operate in European markets.

October 10, 2008

Redbet to Transfer Gaming Operations to Malta

Sweden's Redbet says it will transfer its gaming operations to Malta now that it has received the necessary licensing approval. The company's Maltese subsidiary, Redbet Gaming Ltd, will take over its sportsbook, casino and poker operations, although certain brands will continue to operate under the existing UK licence.

Jonas Sundvall, CEO of Redbet Holding AB, said the Maltese business would be operational before the end of the year and that the company would benefit from a reduced tax liability going forward.

The company also this week announced revenue figures for the month of September, with total revenues increasing 14.8% month-on-month to SEK20.2 million (€2.1 million). Revenues for the third quarter improved 4.12% versus Q2 to SEK54.9 million (€5.7 million).

Bodog Loses Appeal Against $46 million Judgement

Online gaming operator Bodog has failed in its attempt to set aside a $46.6 million judgement against it in the patent infringement suit brought by 1st Technology LLC. With interest, Bodog must now pay 1st Technology over $50 million following yesterday's ruling.

Bodog was sued by 1st Technology for patent infringement based on Bodog's distribution of software used for online gaming. A default judgement was issued against the gaming operator on August 1st 2007 after it failed to answer the allegations made against it in the suit.

As part of the ruling, the registrar of Bodog's domain name was ordered to remove all nameservers associated with Bodog and founder Calvin Ayre, rendering them useless. Bodog subsequently changed its name to NewBodog before finally settling on its current name of BodogLife.

Despite numerous challenges by Bodog against the original judgement by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday affirmed the lower court's ruling.

"We are extremely gratified for our client that the Court of Appeals saw the merits exactly the way we did," said Mr. Greenspoon, the lawyer representing 1st Technology.

In August of this year, Parlay Entertainment settled a similar patent infringement lawsuit with 1st Technology. The terms of that settlement remain confidential and there was no admission of liability by either party.

ASA Bans 'Irresponsible' Partouche Ad

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has banned an online ad by French gaming operator Partouche which suggested that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.

The internet ad for Partouche Betting showed a banner which read "Bet to forget", "Click or regret". A second version of the ad featured the same text alongside a photograph of French footballer Eric Cantona dressed as a knight.

The complainant suggested that the ad was irresponsible, because it exploited the susceptibilities of vulnerable people by suggesting that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.

In its defence, Partouche said the campaign was based on the irony of enticing people in England to bet on the Euro 2008 championships despite the fact that England had not qualified for the final phase. The company said the ad was intended to be taken in the light-hearted context of asking people to forget their disappointment that England had not qualified, not to forget life's difficulties or personal problems.

Partouche had been warned by the CAP Copy Advice team that the "Bet to forget" claim might suggest that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems, however the company chose to ignore the advice.

The CAP Copy Advice team had also advised their agency against using the claim "Bet or regret", because it could portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life. Partouche said they followed that advice and instead used the claim "Click or regret", which they considered was different because it was merely an enticement to visit their website.

In its assessment, the ASA said it considered that the context of asking people to forget their disappointment that England had not qualified for Euro 2008 would not be clear to consumers initially viewing any version of the ad and the claim "Bet to forget" was therefore likely to be interpreted, particularly by vulnerable people, as suggesting that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.

"We were therefore concerned that it could exploit them," said the ASA, concluding that the ad was "irresponsible". The ASA added it was concerned that Partouche had ignored the advice from the Copy Advice team not to use the claim "Bet to forget".

The advertisements were found to have breached CAP Code clauses 57.2, 57.4b and 57.4c (Gambling). Partouche was ordered not to repeat the claims.

Tabcorp calls for strict regulation

Australian bookmaking giant Tabcorp has called for the government to step in and stop bookmakers from offering tote services in direct competition to state-licensed totaliser organisations, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Tabcorp currently holds an exclusive licence for totaliser betting in NSW and Victoria. Tabcorp’s managing director of wagering Robert Nason warned against the government allowing a situation similar to that in the Northern Territory to develop elsewhere. "Every Northern Territory bookmaker has the capacity to offer tote product and tote services that are identical to ours at a better price. While they can do that, advertise freely, and have a presence in the market it has to damage the future of tote betting and industry returns, because the tote is the major funder of racing.” Nason called for tote betting to be restricted to tote operators, but for fixed odds betting to be deregulated.

888 Increasing CryptoLogic Titles

Dublin-based online casino software developer CryptoLogic Limited has announced that three of its most popular games are now available at following the signing of a three-year licensing agreement in May.

Gibraltar-licensed, which is one of the world’s leading online gaming entertainment sites, now features Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Bejeweled from CrytoLogic and has also signed an agreement to license ten additional titles.

'It's exciting to see one of the world's premier gaming brands recognise that CryptoLogic delivers a gaming experience that's truly innovative by deepening its relationship with us,' said Brian Hadfield, President and Chief Executive Officer for CryptoLogic.

'We expect CryptoLogic's new games on and other planned sites to be highly popular among players and profitable for our business.'

CryptoLogic’s casino suite boasts more than 200 games including popular casual titles such as Sudoku, Cubis and Bejeweled alongside multi-bonus and multi-jackpot games featuring some of the world's most famous action and entertainment characters.

'CryptoLogic's industry-leading games and's reputation and marketing strength are a perfect combination,' said Justin Thouin, Vice-President of Product Management and Business Development for CryptoLogic.

'We are thrilled to have built a great relationship with one of the world's true household names in igaming.'

Betbull granted licence to launch w1nners brand in Spain

Betbull announced today that the Community of Madrid had issued a retail betting licence to Betbull Bwin Espana (BBE), its joint venture with Bwin targeting the Spanish market. BBE will operate under the w1nners brand, and will now start a roll-out of own and third-party retail premises across the Province of Madrid.

BBE launched its new w1nners logo and colour scheme at the Madrid gaming fair last week, where it also demonstrated the products that will be available in its retail units, including in-running betting. The company will operate out of headquarters situated on Madrid’s famous Gran Via.

Simon Bold, director of Betbull, said the company saw the licence as a platform from which to launch a business in the market it rated as the most promising in Europe, and that BBE would be applying for licences in other provinces “as and when legislation permits.”

“Betbull is in good shape and reported a positive set of figures in Q2, over the last year we have built a strong team in Spain and developed a retail concept which we believe will be successful in the Province of Madrid and throughout the country as a whole,” said Bold.

Formoapuestas closes as Argentina debates egaming clampdown

Argentine online betting operator Formoapuestas has confirmed to eGaming Review it has been forced out of business by the sudden withdrawal of its licence by issuing authority Loteria Nacional.

Managing director Ignacio Aguero said the Loteria was yet to provide an explanation of its decision to revoke the licence with 12 of its 15-year term still remaining.

However, the news coincides with the Buenos Aires provincial government indicating it may be preparing a clampdown on online gaming, as its lower house debates a bill which would effectively outlaw all forms of remote gambling.

If introduced, the measures would require telecommunications providers to block access to all gambling sites and impose penalties on network providers and operators receiving bets from within the province.

The Loteria’s decision to issue a cessation order had taken everyone at the company by surprise, said Aguero. “This usually happens to companies that operate in grey areas. Formoapuestas has been working hard for years to comply with their rules and operate in a transparent and open way, so it was a great surprise to us,” he explained.

Aguero said he was now overseeing the winding down of the company’s operations, including negotiating its exit from a recently-signed agreement with Microgaming to provide Formoapuestas with a casino offering.

The operator has launched a legal challenge to the Loteria’s decision, but Aguero said that the likelihood of the process taking a minimum of two or three years to reach a conclusion had left the company with no option other than to cease trading with immediate effect.