August 27, 2014

OPAP revenue up on sports betting and scratch cards, profit down on old tax bill

Greek monopoly betting operator OPAP saw earnings rise 50% in the second quarter thanks to aggressive cost-cutting measures and its new online sportsbook and scratch-card operations. Revenue in the three months ending June 30 rose 8% to €947.3m, while earnings rose to €68.6m, nearly €7m above analysts’ forecasts.

The first half of the 2014 FIFA World Cup played a significant role in boosting revenue for OPAP’s Stihima sports betting game. OPAP’s new GTECH-powered online sportsbook launched just two weeks before the football tournament kicked off and the online access is credited with helping drive a 31.5% year-on-year sales increase to €363m. Existing numerical games revenue fell 5.1% to €549m thanks to a decline in Kino revenue while the new Hellenic Lotteries vertical contributed €20m in just two months of operation, three-quarters of which came via scratch tickets.

Despite the good showing, OPAP’s net profit fell 44.5% to €15.7m. Profit would have risen 56% to €44.2m but the company announced on Tuesday that it had been hit with a €21.6m retroactive tax bill. The charges date back to fiscal 2010, following a recalculation of the former state asset’s tax assessment. OPAP paid €8m in incremental taxes that year, while the state now says the company’s actual obligation was €29.6m. OPAP says it has “strong arguments” for lodging an appeal to have at least 50% of the outstanding tax obligation refunded.

In keeping with its new life as a privately held firm with a sharp eye on the bottom line, OPAP embarked on a dramatic reducing program this summer. In July, the firm’s new owners launched a voluntary redundancy program at its retail subsidiary OPAP Services that targeted over 600 staffers – three-quarters of the division’s total payroll. The cuts came on top of 140 positions OPAP eliminated earlier this year, the effects of which boosted administrative expenses 16.2% to €8.6m during the quarter.

August 25, 2014

Tatts Group rebrands to increase awareness and secure trust


Gaming, wagering and lottery company Tatts Group has announced a new brand positioning and corporate identity including a new logo, website and marketing collateral.

The new brand identity aims to disrupt the brand’s narrative to increase awareness and communicate it as a “trusted provider of entertainment products and services”.

Hans Hulsbosch, executive creative director of Hulsbosch, the design firm behind the work, said the new identity would set a strong framework for the business’ evolution into the future.

“The simple, clean, contemporary logo style is composed of two components: the top graphic known as ‘the star’ and the distinctive lettering ‘Tatts Group’. In addition the colour palette brings scale and boldness to the brand identity.

“I’m delighted that this transforming creative review represents the spirit of their values and is a unique recognisable symbol of their brand.”

Hulsbosch has previously developed the branding for Rebel Sports, Virgin Australia, Woolworths and Masters, among others.

Tatts Group chief executive officer Robbie Cooke said: “Tatts is a leading Australian gambling group with a 130 year proud heritage. We are making changes across all facets of our business and our new corporate brand identity is symbolic in positioning the group for the future.”

The company will next release new national wagering and lottery brand identities.

August 22, 2014

PayPal to process US igaming transactions

EBay owned payment processing operator PayPal is considering allowing customer transactions in US state licensed igaming territories.

The news that PayPal the world largest payment processor could allow payment transactions for US igaming customers was brought to light by Poker news website – Onlinepokerreport.com.

“Sources tell OPR that PayPal will start processing regulated US online #gambling payments in coming months,” OPR tweeted. “Handful of operators to start.”
The news of PayPal allowing US transactions will come as good news to state licensed igaming operators, who have been frustrated at the lack of third party payment providers willing to take transactions

At present, Skrill (formaly known as “Moneybookers”) is the top payment processor in the state of New Jersey. Neteller is the web wallet of choise for Nevada and Delaware.

Italian Serie B Could Lose Eurobet аs Title Sponsor

The Italian Serie B is in danger of losing title sponsor Eurobet after reports surfaced that the online betting operator was unlikely to renew its deal with the second division in the Italian football league system.

Italian Serie B could lose Eurobet as title sponsor; German side Kaiserslautern inks deal with paysafecardA report from Tuttomercatoweb said that changes made within Eurobet’s management have shifted the interest in sponsoring a league many now feel doesn’t have the same financial strength it once had. The league is already rife with teams struggling to make ends meet. Just last month, AC Siena announced its bankruptcy a year removed from being relegated into Serie B, ending a proud 110-year history for the once-famous club.

If Eurobet leaves Serie B, the league stands to lose around €2 million of sponsorship money. That’s money that Serie B can’t lose given its current economic state. Other sponsors like Dacia and NGM are also tinkering on canceling their own sponsorship deals with Serie B.

Eurobet’s potential exit makes it the second online betting operator to drop ties with the league. Before it came into the picture as the title sponsor last season, Serie B was sponsored by Bwin.

Ladbrokes boss receives £1 million bonus

Richard Glynn the boss of Ladbrokes has been handed share in the company worth £1 million even thou in the companies recent report showed a fall of 50% in profits. He was given 759,958 shares at current value of £1,028,223 but those shares cannot be cashed in for three years.

The reward package surprised many observers after the countries second largest bookmaker announced recently that their half yearly profits were down from £55.1million to £27.7million compared to 2013.

Glynn took over the company as chief operating office in April 2010, but much speculation was given to the success of the World Cup for Ladbrokes on whether he would stay in his role. Ladbrokes has struggled in recent years to keep pace with William Hill in both retail, online and mobile offerings.

But when announcing Ladbrokes’ latest set of disappointing results, Glynn insisted the company had enjoyed a ‘good World Cup’ and was now ‘well positioned for growth’.

Switzerland move towards online gambling regulations

The Swiss government is looking at regulating and legalising online gambling, the move comes as many Swiss nationals already play online and many Swiss banks transfer money from players to online operators in Europe and overseas, so enforcing the current law seems useless.
So now the countries Conference of the Cantonal Directors in Charge of Gambling and Lotteries has put their full support in favour of introducing a legal framework to legaslise online gambling and at the same time seek taxes from online operators offering their products in the country.

However any new laws would come with the condition that it must not come with excessive liberalization. The CDCM said that discussions were held regarding regulation during a recent plenary assembly and decided that “it would be convenient to give gambling operators the opportunity to offer their games on the internet.”

One of the main conditions the organization said would be that licensing should only be open to ‘brick-and-mortar’ operators currently regulated in Switzerland, which would ban any offshore online operators.

The CDCM said: “We support the idea of extending the current licence. The online environment is not a new market: it is only a new medium to distribute the offer already available, it addresses the same clients and it meets the same needs of the traditional games.

“The arrival of new operators specialised in the online sector would lead to a competition that would be problematic from a political, social and possibly even economic point of view.” “We believe that those who hold a licence to offer brick-and-mortar casino games should not be ‘punished’ for the fact that they have respected the rules that currently forbid them to run operations online.”

At present no time frame for a bill legislating for online gambling has been given, but observers within the online gambling sector believe that early 2015 will see more movement towards legalising online gambling.

August 19, 2014

Aston Villa Tie Up William Hill Betting Partnership

Aston Villa have announced a new partnership with William Hill Online as their new Official UK & Ireland Betting Partner.

Aston Villa acting Chief Executive Robin Russell said: “We are delighted to add William Hill to our growing number of Official Partners as Official UK & Ireland Betting Partner.

“William Hill has been one of the leading brands in bookmaking for many years and the company has enjoyed a long and successful association with football, too.

“We look forward to an exciting and productive partnership with them.”

William Hill Chief Marketing Officer Kristof Fahy added: “We’re delighted that William Hill Online has become Aston Villa’s Official UK & Ireland Betting Partner.

"Aston Villa is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in English football history and it’s great to be associated with such a club.”

William Hill, founded in 1934, it is now the UK's largest bookmaker with around 2,430 licensed betting offices that provide betting opportunities on a wide range of sporting and non-sporting events, gaming on machines and numbers-based products including lotteries.

The Group’s Online business (www.williamhill.com) provides customers with the opportunity to access William Hill's products online, through their smartphone or tablet, by telephone and by text services. William Hill PLC has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2002.

The Group generates revenues of £1.5bn a year.

August 15, 2014

Bet365 accused of misleading punters with 'free' and 'bonus' offers

The consumer watchdog has launched court action against Bet365, accusing the online betting agency of misleading punters with "free" and "bonus" offers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the agency did not properly display the conditions attached to offers of free bets and deposit bonuses.

Consumers had to risk their own deposit, gamble large amounts of money and bet on high-risk transactions in order to be eligible for the offers, the ACCC said.

Prosecutors will target three llocal companies contected to the major British wagering operator, Bet365 Group.

The Australian outlet of Bet365, which began taking bets in 2012, reported a $40.8 million loss in its 2014 financial year.

Chairman Rod Sims said consumer issues in online trading were an enforcement priority for the ACCC.

“The online betting industry is a growing business sector. The Australian Consumer Law applies to this sector in the same way that it applies to other industries and sectors,” Mr Sims said.

“The Consumer Law also requires that any conditions, limitations or restrictions should be made clear to the consumer before the purchase rather after a consumer has been unfairly enticed into a transaction.”

ACCC said the agency had changed its website since it was contacted about the matter.

In a separate case, the regulator has also launched Federal Court proceedings against kitchen blender supplier OmniBlend Australia, claiming it engaged in price fixing with a competitor.

The company also allegedly induced a supplier to direct its key competitor not to discount its prices for blenders.

OmniBlend, which supplies blenders through its online store to business and consumers around the world, and its competitor were two major distributors of OmniBlend branded blenders in Australia.

The ACCC said when OmniBlend's attempt to enter into a price fixing agreement failed, it induced the supplier to engage in resale price maintenance by refusing to supply the competitor unless it stopped discounting the price of certain blenders.

OmniBlend’s sole director, Mr Neal Bowhay, has also been joined to the proceedings for aiding and abetting the alleged conduct.

“Price fixing and resale price maintenance affect consumers by increasing prices, reducing consumer choice and distorting the competitive process,” Mr Sims said.

“The ACCC views these types of anticompetitive conduct very seriously and will not hesitate to investigate and where appropriate take enforcement action against businesses who engage in this behaviour.”

Both the OmniBlend and Bet365 matters are due in court in October. The companies have been contacted for comment.

August 13, 2014

Paddy Power customer dataset sold for €7600

Jason Ferguson, the man accused of hacking and stealing information from 649,055 Paddy Power customers, says he bought the data through an online message board last December and denies accountability.

He told Bloomberg News that he was also offered a new dataset for €7600 (£6030). “I bought lots of data for marketing but I did not hack anything.”

“Is it ethical? To my knowledge, there’s no precedent. I thought I was acting within the realm of legality,” he added.

The full extent of the 2010 hacking episode became known to Paddy Power in recent months when it took legal action with the assistance of the Ontario Provincial Police to retrieve the compromised dataset.

Following a verification process on a sample of data, they sought and received two court orders to seize Ferguson’s IT assets, recover and delete records, examine his bank accounts, other financial transactions, and question him. The court orders were secured and executed in Canada during the second week of July.

While the historical dataset did not contain customers’ financial information such as credit or debit card details, individual customer’s names, usernames, addresses, email addresses, phone contact numbers, dates of birth and prompted questions and answers were recorded, something Ferguson believes rival firms could have used to win new players and affiliates.

“This data is very very good and a unique marketing opportunity as you can get immediately a ton of players and affiliates,” he told Saumarez Smith, manager of a consultant group that probes suspected hacks, who was acting as a potential buyer and interested party.

“You get exclusive rights as he wants to foster repeat business and long-term relations with people.”

“Once I pay him the cash, he delivers all links,” he later wrote, referring to his contact based in Malta. Paddy Power has yet to comment on whether they will pursue the alleged trader.

August 12, 2014

2 Bulgarian Teenagers Try to Scoop BGN 5M Jackpot with Fake Ticket

Two teenagers were detained in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Varna after attempting to collect the Sports Totalizator BGN 5M jackpot using a fake slip.

The two 19-year-olds tried to hack the Totalizator's database in order to manipulate the numbers, Bulgarian National Radio reports.

One of them was arrested after trying to collect part of the jackpot in an office of the Sports Totalizator in Varna. The second 'hacker' was also detained shortly after that.

The jackpot of June 26th draw came up to BGN 5 026 320.

The teenagers were charged with attempted fraud. They were detained for 72 hours.