September 19, 2008

Bwin speaks Bulgarian!

The new era for all Bulgarian online sport bet users begins. Bwin will soon be fully translated in the Bulgarian language as well! It is worth to highlight in addition, that all users will have the opportunity to choose between 10.000 daily bets from 90 different sports (the biggest European betting offer), using the local currency (BGN).

Bwin also offers the flexibility of selecting one of the following payment methods: VISA, Mastercard, Moneybookers, bank transfer, Western Union, and provides customers with the highest levels of safety, since its payment method relies on the strictest international standards (tested encryption technology from VeriSign®). Furthermore, online transactions are safeguarded by the extremely reliable payment systems, operated by internationally recognized clearing partners, who guarantee at least 99.5% availability of their payment systems.

One more innovation of Bwin will be the existence of a dedicated customer support agent, who will be available and willing to assist all users in every possible query or difficulty they might face, via email or phone call.

Further information on the company and its overall action are available at 

September 12, 2008

Internet bookie bwin loses German court case

Internet bookmaker has lost a regional court case in the aftermath of Germany's crackdown on online betting, Germany's state lottery said on Thursday, sending bwin shares down 7 percent.

In the case before a Cologne court, bwin had requested suspension of the immediate execution of a ban on Internet gambling issued by Germany's states, pending a Federal Court ruling on the issue.

The Cologne court rejected the suspension request, the state lottery in the state of North-Rhine Westfalia, Westlotto, said in a statement. Bwin now faces fines if it does not oblige the ban, the lottery said.

The case in Cologne related to bwin's international offering, not that of its German affiliate bwin e.K., to which bwin's marketing in the country directs German customers.

Bwin confirmed the court decision but said it would continue to offer its betting and gambling services despite the ruling. It reiterated its view that Germany's ban on Internet gambling violated European Union rules and it will continue to challenge it in courts.

The main court case before one of Germany's highest courts which will decide whether the ban on Internet gambling is legal is not expected to end before 2009, bwin said.

Bwin shares pared losses but still traded down 5.8 percent at 19 euros by 1516 GMT.

Party signs up with Evolution; Salmon due to start as CMO in October

Jon Salmon’s remit and duties when he starts out in his new role as chief marketing officer for PartyGaming have not yet been spelt out but he is likely to replace Sabin Brooks, who has been group marketing director at Party for the past three years.  

Salmon is due to start his new role in October and has been managing director of Intercasino’s marketing agency Ads Dotcom for the past eight years and previously worked with PartyGaming chief executive Jim Ryan when both at CryptoLogic, the firm that supplies poker and casino software to Intercasino.

One industry source said Salmon, who is considered one of the leading executives in egaming marketing, viewed the opportunity of joining PartyGaming as “the chance of a lifetime”. PartyGaming has made numerous recent comments about the growing importance of brands in online gaming and Salmon has been successful at building the Intercasino brand through TV and print advertising.

PartyGaming also announced that its casino site PartyCasino will provide its players with live roulette, blackjack and baccarat tables. The firm has agreed a three-year partnership with live gaming technology firm Evolution Gaming to supply the three games in 24 multiple languages and currencies as it looks to enhance its casino offering.  

Ryan commented: “We believe ‘live casino’ will gain us access to players who enjoy and prefer the experience of watching croupiers dealing cards or spinning roulette wheels and calling ‘place your bets’ in real time - that’s great, live online gaming entertainment.”

Evolution chief executive Jens von Bahr said: "Evolution is changing the face of online casino gaming for players around the world with an innovative, unmatched live experience. PartyCasino is an industry leader at the forefront of change and we look forward to sharing a seat with them at the table where entertainment and fun is provided by our winning, leading-edge software.”

PartyGaming could also be facing a much bigger compensation payout to WMS Gaming Inc. than the US$2.67m originally awarded. WMS was seeking damages of $287m for trademark infringement but were awarded the much smaller sum by an Illinois court in July last year. They appealed the ruling and this week the Appeals Court found in their favour, stating the District Court made an error in law, though it is not yet clear what the new damages will be. Party said it believes the court action by WNS is without foundation. Announces Two-Millionth Member

Less than a year after registering its one-millionth customer, virtual reality online poker site has announced that its two-millionth customer signed in last week.

According to traffic monitor, the UK and Alderney-licensed site is the fastest-growing online room not accepting US-based players and the second overall. uses a unique three-dimensional client and offers a plethora of unique features such as a special remote control function and infinitely customisable characters.

'Only a handful of poker brands have ever reached this milestone and none have done it so quickly without taking US players,' said Simon Prodger, Marketing Director for

'We are delighted with our progress and look forward to making our third year even better.' has featured prominently in various mainstream magazines and recently launched PKR TV, a one-hour television programme reaching over 15 million people across Europe. In addition, the GamCare certified site also publishes Stacked, a consumer magazine, alongside offering its Club PKR loyalty programme.

September 11, 2008

2008 World Poker Congress Scheduled for October

The 3rd annual World Poker Congress (WPC) is scheduled to take place in Budapest, Hungary, on October 29th-30th 2008. Symbolically located near the world famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge spanning the Danube River, this conference will once again act as a connection between both the land-based and online operators, and service providers in the poker industry.

Program facilitators feature industry leaders such as Steve Lipscomb, the founder and CEO of WPT Enterprises. Having vast experience in the professional online and offline poker worlds affords Mr Lipscomb a unique view, and his participation in the keynote panel will give delegates his perspective on this vibrant sector of the gambling industry.

"The growth of the World Poker Conference is a testament to the essential maturation of our industry," said Mr Lipscomb. "I simply can’t say enough about what those at Clarion Gaming are doing to bring us together. I enjoyed the conference, saw old friends, made new friends and had a fantastic time last year. People should participate in this dialogue - it will help us create the future together."

New this year providing insight into the land-based portion of the program, through their endorsement and participation, is the European Casino Association. Breakout sessions into live poker and online poker tracks offer the most current information and trends in the industry. With sponsorship activities well ahead of last year's, exhibitions will be a 'must see' during networking events, refreshment breaks and lunches. Exhibitors of these networking-heavy events find the intimate and targeted nature of the audience to be of strategic benefit.

WPC participants will get the opportunity to check in on a current case study involving efforts to dovetail land-based and online poker products. Further innovative topics will examine methods for attracting players from different continents and paying players into live events.

Several sessions will investigate techniques that expand product range, improve efficiency and give a greater understanding of the customer’s needs. Specifically, delegates will get a look behind the scenes to probe the fact and fiction of player’s responses to consumer magazines regarding recent trends in poker.

In addition to the fresh program and stellar line up of speakers, there are many networking events scheduled including a welcome dinner, cocktail reception and closing party. The opportunity to meet high-level executives representing prominent companies in the fast-growing poker industry continues to rank top among this event's many attractions.

More information can be found on the event at 

PartyGaming Plc Facing Multi-Million Dollar US Lawsuit

PartyGaming plc is facing the prospect of a $287 million compensation claim for trademark infringement following a decision Monday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
In the case of WMS Gaming Inc. vs. PartyGaming plc, WMS Gaming argued 'persistent, knowing and wilful infringement' of its trademarks by PartyGaming.

The case centres on WMS's trademarks Jackpot Party and Super Jackpot Party, which PartyGaming is said to have infringed in the years between 2004 and 2006 through 'approximate and exact reproductions of the marks'.

After several failed attempts to persuade PartyGaming voluntarily to cease its infringing uses of WMS’s marks, WMS filed suit in federal district court seeking injunctive relief, damages, and an equitable accounting of the profits PartyGaming reaped from its use of WMS’s marks in the United States.

Despite receiving proper notice, PartyGaming chose to ignore WMS's lawsuit, leading in July 2007 to Judge Blanche Manning of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issuing a default judgement against the company, including an award of $2.67 million in damages to WMS.

The amount of $2.67 million in damages was substantially lower than the $287 million sought by WMS based on PartyGaming's US profits during the period, leading to this appeal which was argued in February of this year and decided on Monday 8th September.

In their decision, Circuit Judges Rovner, Wood and Williams said they agreed with WMS's argument that "the district court …. made a fundamental error of law by failing to distinguish between WMS’s right to the defendants profits and its right to its damages."

The court found that  WMS had provided evidence of PartyGaming's profits from the United States, based on the company's own figures published in their annual report. "In the absence of evidence from PartyGaming showing that deductions are warranted, WMS is entitled to the revenues supported by its evidence," said Judge Wood.

"We add that while the figure WMS seeks, $287,391,140.70, is considerably larger than the 'damages' award granted by the district court, $2,673,422.10, the record shows that in a single year (2005), the defendants reported revenues of $977.7 million—nearly $1 billion.

"The record shows persistent, pervasive, knowing, and willing infringement for several years by PartyGaming, as it repeatedly refused to cease and desist even after receiving several forms of actual notice of its unlawful activity, from both the Patent and Trademarks Office and from WMS."

The Court therefore upheld WMS's appeal, reversing the judgment of the district court and ordering further proceedings consistent with this opinion.   

Dutch Senate Sets Online Gaming Tax at 40.85%

The Dutch Senate yesterday passed a proposed bill on gaming taxation, enabling the government to tax games of chance, including those provided by 'illegal' online operators.

The bill mainly concerned a change in the taxation method for domestic providers of 'illegal' online gaming, as well as for persons who win at foreign online gaming sites.

The Senate considered internet gaming to be comparable to regular table games offered in casinos, due to the fast succession of games available and the possibility to continue to stake earned winnings while playing.

For table casino games, a separate taxation method is already included in the current gaming taxation law. The Dutch Senate has decided therefore to introduce a similar tax system for games of chance offered online with tariffs set at 40.85%.

At the core of yesterday's debate was the moral question of whether taxing illegal activities implies an approval of the same. The majority of the Senate was convinced by Secretary of State De Jager, who argued that taxation law does not differentiate between legal and illegal providers, and that both should be treated in a fiscally equal manner.

In spite of ardent attempts by Socialist Party Senator Reuten to argue against the tax, the Senate agreed with the government point of view.

Christian Democratic Party Senator Essers pointed out that the bill only concerns an amendment to the Betting and Gaming Act which already provides for the possibility of taxing gaming proceeds from illegal gambling practices. In addition, he considered taxation a more effective tool to act against illegal practices than criminal proceedings, as preferred by the Socialist Party.

Senator Leijnse of the Labour Party took a more practical, rather than moral approach. His primary concern was how to block American online gaming providers from offering their games via the internet in The Netherlands.

Leijnse also requested information on how the tax authorities may encourage players to declare income from gambling proceeds, as well as how they can deal with gambling operators.

September 10, 2008

Betfair - where winners have just become losers

The life story of the Betfair betting exchange is relatively brief, but it has certainly packed a lot into its nine-year existence. From a tiny start-up, fired by the vision and genius of its two founders, Andrew Black and Edward Wray, it has grown into a billion-pound business, with hundreds of staff in plush riverside offices, customers in dozens of countries, and a Queen's Award for Enterprise nailed to the wall.

And amid all the staggering numbers, there is another, less tangible, achievement. Betfair is now one of the world's biggest betting businesses, yet it has always managed to retain a public image of the pioneering start-up, defying the corporate norms. Many of its clients still feel like members of a club, and have the same sort of regard for Betfair that Apple-fanatics do for their Macs. This has always helped to keep them "sticky", and allowed Betfair to defend its near-monopoly.

The loyalty of some customers may be tested to the limit, however, by Betfair's decision, announced yesterday, to introduce "premium charges" for some of their biggest winners. Betfair insists that the new charges will affect "less than 0.5%" of its customers, but still seems to stand in complete contradiction to the company's oft-repeated boast that this is a place "where winners are welcome".

The charges, and the conditions under which these will be incurred, are explained in a 1,200-word posting on the Betfair website. The rules are, clearly, quite complicated, but plenty of their customers are starting to consider the implications. One Betfair client who contacted the Guardian yesterday said that if the charges had been imposed over the last few weeks, he would have been forced to pay "a five-figure sum".

"They think they can do it because they have an effective monopoly. I look forward to their next advertising campaign. Instead of 'where winners are welcome', they can say, 'come to Betfair, where winners get screwed'," he added.

At least one of Betfair's winners, though, took a different view. "It's the best news I've had for ages, as it's not going to cost me a penny," Harry Findlay, professional punter and owner of Denman, said. "I'm a gambler, so the way I bet, it won't make a difference. The people who will be screaming will be the maths professors with computer models, the ones who just never lose. If they clear off, it should be even easier for me to make money."

Even so, Findlay could still appreciate a basic problem with Betfair's move. "I'm in favour for selfish reasons," he said, "but when I first heard about it, I thought it must be a joke, as it's so completely against the ethos of the whole company." Betfair's enemies in the racing establishment may also be interested in the news. After all, if Betfair itself can cream off an extra charge from people who must, in effect, be running a business on the exchange, why can't the Levy Board do it too?

Betfair was started by punters, for punters, and has transformed the betting landscape in less than a decade. Yesterday's news, though, could mark the moment when it stopped being a plucky start-up, and turned into just another faceless corporation.

September 05, 2008 to become Official Sponsor of Bulgarian Football Union and the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) have signed a sponsorship agreement for the qualification home matches to the FIFA World Cup 2010 and the friendly matches of the Bulgarian national team. will become an Official Sponsor of BFU, giving it a wide range set of advertising rights during the home matches of the A-team and the Under 21s at Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia. They include the title right as Official Sponsor as well as the right to use BFU’s logo in their communication and PR work. 

During the matches, will be prominently displayed on the advertising boards along the pitch as well as the coaches’ bench. The logo of the brand will be incorporated on the various sponsor backdrops. Adverts in printed materials and on the website of BFU, along with hospitality tickets and the right to PR activities with the players, round off the sponsorship partnership. AG is a company with holdings in Germany, Austria and Malta. Through a wholly owned subsidiary the company holds a casino and sports betting licence issued by the authorities of the Maltese government - member state of the European Union. With more than 1.4 Mio registered customers from over 70 countries and listed on the Frankfurt and Viennese stock exchange, the renowned company is one of the most popular betting providers in Europe. Sports betting, casino games and poker are offered on, while horse racing is offered on 

"This cooperation fits very well with our existing sponsorships in Eastern Europe and supports the future advertising activities of in Bulgaria", says Klaus Gruber, Marketing Manager of  "With the help of the Bulgarian Football Union and Sportfive we will be able to use this engagement to keep increasing the awareness of the brand." 

"We warmly welcome as our new Official Sponsor", declares Borislav Mihaylov, President of BFU. "The company is passionate about sports and the communication of their brand and we are passionate about our future role in international football - this partnership will be very beneficial to both of us."

Sweden will propose sports betting legislation in December

The head of the Swedish inquiry commission on gambling (Spelutredningen) has confirmed that it will propose a licensing system for foreign sports betting operators when it reports its findings to the Swedish government this December.

Jan Nyren confirmed this to Swedish media yesterday and said casino and slot games would not be licensed under the proposals as they presented more risk of problem gambling, while no decision had yet been taken regarding online poker and other gaming products.

The legislative move is seen as a way for Sweden to avoid further actions form the European Court of Justice, which has already sent reasoned opinions and threatened it with infringement proceedings.

Peter Alling, one of the secretaries of the inquiry commission, added: “Sports betting licensing will be proposed to the government and gaming (poker and other games) remains open to further investigation. We haven’t decided on what the tax rate will be (for the sports betting companies); whether it will be on total turnover or on their gross gaming revenues.”

Alling added that the commission’s duty was to find a system that allowed operators to work in a well-balanced environment. He said: “The task given to the inquiry is to create a legislation that will stand in the long run, but of course, with the constantly-changing system, such a consistent system must have a built-in flexibility. So there will be a system, but it will have the possibility to change should it need to.”

Alling said he was confident the commission would come up with a proposal that would work for all parties and praised the attitude of the private operators. “They have been very collaborative, we have met many of them over the past year and they have been very helpful in setting out their vision for the future of the market and what their needs are. We have learnt a great deal from them and the input has been very constructive on both sides,” he said.

Party set for white label expansion and poker relaunch

PartyGaming is set to offer its flagship poker product to other operators on a white label basis in the forthcoming months in an effort to counter the dominance of the poker sites still taking US bets. PartyGaming chief executive Jim Ryan said the company had put in place all the elements that would enable it to compete strongly with the sites taking US bets.

While praising the group for transforming “itself into a truly international business” as he commented on its interim results this morning, he added: “The US sites will continue to spend their marketing dollars in Europe and we know the competitive environment is set to become even more challenging. But what’s interesting is how we plan to defend ourselves. We are about to launch the next generation PartyPoker platform in the near future along with a rebrand. The brand will become much more meaningful to the customer through our marketing and there will be an enhanced effort to improve our contact with the VIP players on PartyPoker. We will have a team dedicated to the players who have become good at poker on our site and we want them to have an amazing experience with and not go to another site.” As for the white label strategy, Ryan said Party would work with “like-minded operators” to create a new poker network.

The company added that there had been no further developments regarding any possible settlements with the US Department of Justice with regard to its US activities pre-UIGEA.

PartyGaming’s net gaming revenue for the first six months of the year increased 17% to US$254.8m, from US$217.4m over the same period in 2007, the company announced today, while clean earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from continuing operations rose 76% to US$60.9m, from US$17.9m in 2007.

Party produced pre-tax profits from ongoing operations of US$30.3m compared with a US$32m loss last year and poker revenues rose 6% to US$ 153.9m, from US$144.6m in 2007 and poker EBITDA increased to US$36m, from US$22.8m last year.

Casino revenues were up 38% US$90m, compared with US$65m during the same period last year, thanks to higher player numbers and yields; bingo revenues rose to US$2m, from US$1.1m in 2007 and sports betting rose 36% to US$9m from US$6.6m in 2007.