August 22, 2008

Zorb mania hits Liverpool streets as globe-riding rolls out bingo TV ad

A high adrenaline sport called zorbing is taking to the streets of Liverpool this week, as part of a major TV advertising shoot for bingo.

The action-packed spectacle will see giant multi-coloured bingo balls taking over the city, as a number of people “zorb” in a giant transparent sphere.

The three-day shoot began yesterday, and features iconic Liverpool landmarks such as the Liver Building and residential terraced streets.

Yesterday, parts of Lark Lane were closed off for the giant spheres to take to the streets.

The advertising campaign, which has a total budget of over £3m, is for the online bingo site

The action-packed spectacle will feature over 180 extras, including two fat ladies, two little ducks and a real-life legs eleven.

Acquisition marketing mana-ger Charlie Goodenough said: “This is a really exciting pro-ject for Ladbrokes Bingo, and we are delighted to be bring-ing bingo on such a big scale to the streets of Liverpool.

“We wanted to represent the fun, exciting nature of the game and we’re sure the giant bingo balls will make an impact on both Merseyside and across the country.”

The advert, devised by advertising agency M&C Saatchi, will air from mid to late September

August 21, 2008

Euro2008 plays key role in Bwin H1 figures

Half-yearly gross gaming revenues for European gaming and betting operator Bwin jumped 25.6% to €207.2m, compared with €165m during the same period last year, the company’s results showed this morning.

Gross sports betting revenues were up a record 37% to €119.8m on the €87.5m achieved in the first six months of 2007 and margins came in at 8.3%. Earnings before interest, debt and amortisation (EBITDA) increased €2m to €36.5m from €34.5m in 2007. The number of active customers on Bwin rose 31% to 1.4 million, new active real-money customers were up 45.6% to 550,000 for the period.

Bwin said its turnover target for Euro 2008 had been achieved during the second quarter and its newly-designed gaming portal had launched successfully. Quarterly gross gaming revenues were up 35.8% to €102.7m on last year’s €75.6m, with sports betting revenues rising 58% to €59.3m compared with €374.m during the second quarter of 2007 and sports betting margins coming in at 7.9%.

Net gaming revenues (NGR) were up 32.7% to €88m, with sports betting contributing €50.4m of the amount, from €66.3m over the same period last year. Poker NGR dropped 5.4% on last year’s figure to €18m while casino rose 13.7% on last year to €15m and games were up 56.3% to €4.6m. EBITDA for the quarter was €10.6m, compared with €9.9m in 2007. After tax results showed a loss of €6.7m, compared with a loss €5.6m in 2007.

Quarterly gross gaming revenues from Bwin’s poker rose €600,000 to €20.9m on €20.3m achieved last year , casino came in at €17.4m on last year’s €14.6m and gaming rose to € 5.1m compared with €3.3m achieved during the second quarter of last year.

Euro 2008 and live betting played a major part in sports betting turnover rising 44% during the second quarter to €750m. Bwin generated €221m in sports betting revenues during the event, with margins of 8.3 %. This meant daily sports betting revenues were higher (€800,000) during Euro 2008 than during the World Cup 2006 (€568,000), when Bwin’s margins were 6.7%.

For the whole of the second quarter though, a large number of results going in favour of punters meant that margins for the period only rose to 7.9%, compared with 7.2% in 2007.

Marketing expenses rose to €37.6m, compared with €25.6m in 2007, due mainly to Euro 2008 and represented 36.6% of gross gaming revenues. Bwin said that and despite the football championships, marketing costs (including bonuses) per new active customer (CPA) declined12.2% to €166.3 during this year’s second quarter, compared to €189.4 in the same period last year.

Bwin added that a “high-quality customer base” had enabled it to report “a fall of only 5.9% in gross gaming revenues per active customer compared to the same period the previous year to €93.8, compared with €99.7 in 2007. The ‘b’inside’ customer loyalty programme launched in October 2007 proved increasingly popular with customers”.

Other quarterly revenues totalled €16.7m compared with €9m last year and included revenues from the sale of rights to the first and second German Soccer Leagues (€7.9m), compared with €5m last year and fees charged to customers, €2.5m on last year’s €1.7m.

August 19, 2008

Boss Media responds to asset freeze claims

Boss Media has responded to a news article published this morning claiming the First Hall Civil Court of Malta had found in favour of claimant Poker Trillion and frozen Boss Media’s assets and ordered its web servers to stop commercial activity form 18 September 2008.

The dispute between Boss and Poker Trillion originated when the latter was thrown off Boss Media’s poker network for “rake back violations”. Poker Trillion then launched a lawsuit against Boss after its dismissal from the network in April and asked for a freezing order to be applied to all Boss media’s assets in Malta, the jurisdiction where Boss is licensed.

Boss has continued to operate since and described the actions and comments by Poker Trillion as “a reckless attempt to support a legal action that is without merit and initiated as retribution for their dismissal from the Boss Media network”.

Commenting on the court’s verdict this morning, Andy Pyrah, chief executive of Poker Trillion, said: “Today’s decision will in effect bring down Boss Media’s operation in their licensed jurisdiction in Malta on September 18, and any partner on the Boss (IPN) poker network at this stage will see their service closed down too.”

Boss added that there had been preliminary hearings on the lawsuit and “assured that adequate security is provided in Malta in the event of an award of damages against it which we believe to be unlikely”. It said it had “the requisite assets in place to ensure that our business will continue to operate with the highest standards. In the extremely unlikely event that any Malta operations would be affected, Boss Media have high-performance back-up systems in place to ensure continued service to all our customers and their players”.

The statement by Boss added: “To be clear, player funds are not affected by the current proceedings. All players’ funds are held separately under the control of the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority and cannot be seized by any court.

“Poker Trillion is a former customer of Boss Media who was terminated because of rake back violations. They have since then repeatedly tried to disrupt the Boss Media business through the dissemination of groundless rumours. In April 2008 Poker Trillion alleged in a press release a claim that among other things, Boss Media player funds were frozen. The allegations were false but typical of the type of tactics employed by Poker Trillion.”

August 15, 2008

888 renews Sevilla shirt sponsorship

Online entertainment firm 888 has renewed its shirt sponsorship deal with Spain’s Sevilla Football Club. 888 has been the team's main sponsor for the past two seasons and will continue in this role for the next three years under the terms of the new deal.

The online gaming company said it was particularly keen to use the partnership to promote its new sports betting division and it would use the club's official website (, as well as above and below the line marketing activities to do so. The promise shown by Spain as an online gaming market was another factor that contributed to 888 renewing the partnership.

Commenting on the deal, Matt Robinson, vice president of brand marketing at 888, said: "We are delighted to continue as Sevilla's main sponsor. We see Sevilla as a highly ambitious team with great potential and are very proud to be sponsoring a club that has the same approach to business as 888– namely offering customers the very finest and most entertaining action available."

Sevilla Football Club president Jose Maria del Nido said 888's support had helped the team develop into one of Spain's best."As a result of 888's continued support, Sevilla has been able to generate enough resources to create a more competitive team each season for the last three years collecting important European trophies (two Uefa Cups, one UEFA Super Cup) notable Champions League results (reached the quarter final stages) and National victories (Spanish Cup and Spanish Super Cup) in the process. These successes come as a great vindication and reward for 888, who dared to back an emerging stock, and continue to support us today," he said.

Centrebet to sponsor A-league champions Newcastle Jets

Australian bookmaker Centrebet will be the official shirt sponsor of the Newcastle Jets, Australia’s defending football (soccer) A-League champions. The company signed a one-year deal with the club with an option to extend and will see its name appear on the club’s shirts during next year’s Asian Champions League.

Neil Evans, media director at Centrebet, commented: “We have long wanted to be a part of such a growing sporting market-place, and this sponsorship has allowed us to take a giant step – and we’ve put our faith in the Newcastle Jets. Never before has such a corporate bookmaker taken such a step, and we hope it opens every sport’s eyes in these tough economic times what can be achieved.”

Centrebet already has sponsorship arrangements with rugby club the Cronulla Sharks and Aussie rules club the Sydney Swans.

Evans added: “We want to provide evidence to Australia’s mainstream sporting marketplace that we’re prepared to invest money back into the clubs that matter to Australia’s future.

“The Newcastle Jets have worked hard, both structurally and financially, since that historic A-League opener on August 28, 2005 to build a club and culture that appeals to a widening market – and we know the club is excited and committed to the Centrebet partnership, and we want to a build a financial and community relationship with our champion football club.”

Svenska Spel criticised as marketing spend rises 16%

Critics have slammed Swedish monopoly Svenska Spel after it not only failed to live up to its pledge to decrease advertising in its homeland, but actually increased its marketing spend during the second quarter of the year. Company results showed that marketing costs increased 16% compared to the first quarter of the year.

Johan Pehrson, leader of Sweden's Liberal Party, said the increase would make Sweden's current monopoly arrangements difficult to justify to the European Union and that Svenska Spel could not call itself the protector of social ideals while actively targeting new customers.

"We have been giving a very clear signal to Svenska Spel to slow down on how much they act aggressively with advertising and marketing," said Pehrson. "Today though you can see with cold figures that they actually have been pushing up the amount of advertising they do. I think it is problematic."

Anders Wiklund, leisure analyst at Evli Bank, said he was not surprised by the negative reaction. He said: "I would say that it seems definitely a bit strange when the new message Svenska Spel gave in the spring was that it was going to focus on public safety, yet still the marketing figures are up quite a lot."

But Svenska Spel hit back at its critics and said its increases were small in comparison with its competitors. Head of communications Andreas Jansson commented: "We didn't say that we would decrease but that we would try to decrease. But that also depends on what our competitors choose to do.

"If we were to decrease our media spend now, it would mean that we give up market share to the non-regulated companies and we don't want to do that because our responsible gaming programme is a lot better than theirs, if they even have any."

Jansson claimed the majority of the additional advertising was focused on responsible gaming, though he conceded Euro 2008 had also played a part.