November 29, 2010

Macau casino mogul bids $330,000 for 2 truffles

A Macau casino mogul bid $330,000 for a pair of white truffles, including one weighing about two pounds, matching the record price he paid at the same event three years ago for one of the giant fungi.

Billionaire Stanley Ho made the winning bid Saturday at a charity auction through representatives of his company, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.

The pair included a huge truffle dug up in the central Tuscany region weighing about two pounds (900 grams) as well as one found in Molise weighing about 14 ounces (400 grams). The auction was staged at Ho's Grand Lisboa hotel in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, with bidders participating simultaneously in Rome and London through a satellite link.

In 2007, Ho paid $330,000 for a white truffle unearthed in Tuscany weighing about 3.3 pounds (1.497 kilograms).

Ho is best known for his casinos in Macau, a gambling enclave in southern China near Hong Kong.
Sixteen lots of white truffles from different areas of Italy went on the block, raising a total of $373,500 for various charities in Macau, Britain and Italy.

White truffles are the most expensive and highly prized of Italy's truffles, and among the most famous are those from Alba in the northern Piedmont region, where pigs or dogs are used to sniff them out during the September-December hunting season.

During the truffle season in Italy, restaurants offer pasta and other dishes containing the edible fungus at sky-high prices. Slivers of the delicacy, with its strong aroma, are prized for flavoring pasta sauces and rice dishes.

November 25, 2010

Mangas rebrands as BetClic Everest Group

Mangas Gaming has renamed itself the BetClic Everest Group.

Nicolas Beraud said the new identity of the group reflected the strength of Mangas’ two flagship brands, sports betting operator BetClic and top three French poker room Everest Poker.

“At a time when markets are regulating in Europe we wanted to, alongside our shareholders, move to the next chapter [of development]. The two brands [BetClic and Everest] are the two most referenced by our customers and will form the new identity of the group, a sign that the customer is at the heart of our future strategy development,” said Beraud.

BetClic, Everest, BetAtHome and Expekt owner Mangas, now BetClic Everest, is a 50/50 joint venture between Monaco casino and luxury hotel owner Societe des Bains de Mer and former Endemol France chief executive Stephane Courbit’s Lov Group.

November 24, 2010

Sportingbet profit rises, confident about rest of year

Online sports betting and gaming group Sportingbet Plc Wednesday reported an increase in profit for the first quarter, and said trading since the start of the second quarter has remained robust with margins in line with historic average. The Board also remains confident with regard to the remainder of the financial year.

The UK-based gamer, which last week said its merger talks with Swedish rival Unibet Group were called off, today reported first quarter pre-tax profit of GBP 8.5 million, up from GBP 6.5 million in the prior year.

Profit attributable to owners of the parent was GBP 7.9 million or 1.5 pence per share, higher than GBP 6.1 million or 1.2 pence per share in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted earnings increased to 1.7 pence per share from last year's 1.3 pence per share.

Net gaming revenue or NGR rose 5% to GBP 51.1 million from GBP 48.6 milion in the same quarter a year earlier, as amounts wagered increased 11% year over year to GBP 513.9 million.

Amounts wagered on sports betting grew by 12% to GBP 499.6 million, earning NGR of GBP 36.8 million, up 11% for the quarter. Casino and gaming contributed a further GBP 10.8 million, and poker GBP 3.5 million, to both amounts wagered and NGR.

November 22, 2010

Bwin claims victory for online gambling in Germany

Germany has been resisting online gambling or a long time, but is now finally coming to grips with the fact that internet wagering is here to stay.

Bwin the online betting firm from Austria which is listed on the Austrian stock exchange has been locking horns with the German government in a legal battle that has gone on for far too long, six years in fact.

Most of Bwin’s revenue comes from poker and sports betting and Bwin has over 20 million registered customers in more than 25 core markets with centres located in Vienna Stockholm and Gibraltar.

In September 2004 the monopoly holder West German Lottery Company Westlotto took out an injunction against Bwin to prevent itfrom any further offerings of it’s products. In 2006 the Regional Court of Cologne ruled against Bwin, which was then upheld a year later, and on November 18th 2010 the court overturned the judgement after an appeal.

Co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger, commented on the victory by stating comment “We welcome the judgement by the German Federal Supreme Court, and are glad that we will have to spend less of our time in courtrooms in the future. Now we can concentrate on developing modern regulations for online gaming in Germany.” He added, “It is high time, and in the interests of all those involved, to prepare the way for the modern regulation of online gaming in Germany. We are optimistic that Germany will follow the example of other European states like Italy and France.”
The decision to overturn the prohibition of online gambling marks the beginning of the end for Germany’s monopoly on gambling, and also may open the restrictive market up to other online gambling firms in the country. Germany has been following the USA in it’s prohibition of the online gambling industry and it appears that tough stance may soon soften.

November 18, 2010

Paddy’s invests in Ireland despite downturn

Paddy Power has announced it will create 375 new online jobs in the stricken Irish economy as the bookmaker continued its momentum from the first half of 2010, with stakes from its core sportsbook growing 34% year-on-year from 1 July to 15 November 2010.

Amounts staked on gaming and by B2B channels, via the operator’s deal with former French horse racing monopoly Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) to provide fixed-odds risk management and pricing tools, were up 33% year-on-year during the period.

The jobs expansion in its international online business headquartered in Tallaght, West Dublin, will increase Paddy Power’s Irish employee base to 2,210. It will also add 130 online jobs in Australia, where it owns Sportsbet and IAS, as part of a total of 1,440 jobs to be created across its online, retail and telephone businesses by December 2013.

Ireland’s minister for Enterprise Trade and Innovation, Batt O’Keeffe TD said: “Paddy Power’s rapid international expansion has direct revenue benefits for the Irish Exchequer and, as overseas markets deregulate, growth prospects are strong for the firm’s online business.”

Jack Massey, finance director at Paddy Power said that Irish economic conditions had become “more challenging” during the period but that its international business in the UK and particularly in Australia had “offset” its figures in Ireland. Amounts staked in Australia rose 6% year-on-year from 1 July to 15 November, with online stakes growing 22%, with gross win from online up by 70%. Net revenues in the last three months in the UK were up 17%, but up only 9% in the Irish Republic due to an 8% drop in gambling.

“The economic conditions in Ireland reflect the reality of the situation. In January the government set its stall out saying it would take €7.5bn out of the budget deficit, this then grew to €15bn in the summer and now people are speculating whether or not the government has the capacity to make that change. Fortunately we have a strong international business that can offset these difficulties.”

Massey said that Paddy Power’s online gross win in Australia was approximately AUS$50m for the second half of last year, and that if growth patterns continued at their current pace gross win would increase to around AUS$75m.

Summing up 2010 Massey called 2010 a “very significant year” for Paddy Power. “We have benefited from a number of good sports results, while there has been a strong momentum in our international activities. This now accounts for two-thirds of our operating profit. Five years ago it was 20%. We have steadily shifted a lot of emphasis towards online and this will continue,” he said.

“We have entered France on a B2B basis with PMU and are looking at other regulating markets, but have yet to make an official statement on where could go next. We have the option to do this either by acquisition, organic growth or via a B2B partnership.”

Asked which markets had the most potential, Massey said the US in “scale terms”, while “closer to home Greece and Denmark are also regulating and are “attractive”.

“At the moment we are driving growth in the businesses we have, but we are always looking n to grow in scale, technology and in mobile, for example, where we have been emphasising our credentials recently,” Massey added.

He called yesterday’s decision by Australia’s Federal Court to overturn its original decision over Racing New South Wales's right to impose a fee of 1.5% of turnover under racefields legislation introduced in September 2008 “disappointing”. The Federal Court on Tuesday ordered Paddy Power-owned Sportsbet to pay, according to Massey, “a seven figure sum” in costs after overturning the decision that the fee was protectionist towards the TAB.

November 16, 2010

Moneybookers to rebrand as Skrill – hopes to become a verb

Moneybookers, the European PayPal alternative or “eWallet provider”, has announced that it is rebranding to Skrill.

The new name, which will take over as the consumer-facing brand by the end of 2011, is said to better capture the “ease and functionality of the company’s online payment suite”. Of course, the word skrill (short for skrilla) is already a commonly used slang word for money or “dough”, according to the infamous Urban Dictionary, which definitely makes more sense.

But there’s more.

Moneybookers Limited, which has been around for just under a decade, became the first e-money issuer to obtain an electronic money licence from the regulatory body the FSA and today claims over 15 million account holders and 70,000 merchants globally. While this year, Moneybookers was voted the UK’s fastest growing private-equity funded company by Deloitte and The Sunday Times. It’s apparently this “rapid growth” that has led Moneybookers to change its name.

Furthermore, Martin Ott, co-CEO of the new Skrill Holdings, appears to suggest that the company now wants to become a verb, something that Google and others have been determined to clamp down on for fear of risking their trademark.

“In the same way people ‘Google’ something or ‘Skype’ their friends, they can soon ‘Skrill’ their friends and family money and will use Skrill to pay whenever they shop online”, says Ott.

November 13, 2010

Mangas receives Gibraltar licence

BetClic, Everest Gaming, Bet-at-home and Expekt owner Mangas Gaming has obtained a Gibraltar egaming licence and will be moving around 50 staff to the jurisdiction.

Mangas Gaming chief executive Nicolas Beraud (pictured) said the addition of a Gibraltar licence to its existing licences in Malta, France and Italy would support the operator’s continued expansion across Europe.

”We believe Gibraltar is the premium gaming jurisdiction in Europe and with our continued European expansion, we believe that Mangas Gaming will be perfectly placed moving forwards.” said Beraud.

The operator, which recently rose to fourth position in eGR’s 2010 Power 50 ranking of the most influential operators in egaming, from seventh last year, will employ approximately 50 staff in the British overseas territory.

November 12, 2010

Bodog continues European recruitment drive

Online gaming and betting operator Bodog Europe has appointed Betfair’s Kemley Sellars to the company’s newly created role of PPC (pay per click) manager.

Sellars is the latest recruit to Bodog Europe ranks where he will take a up the reins as PPC manager, a similar role he held at Betfair where he guided them through their first large scale PPC campaign in 2009.

Sellars has extensive knowledge of the PPC arena and has previously served as an analyst at both Latitude and iCrossing whose clients include Chelsea FC, Ann Summers and JackPotJoy.

“The sheer energy of the Bodog brand makes it a very attractive place to work and unlike other companies you have the ability to put your own stamp on things,” said Sellars. “ The role is newly created so I am looking forward to starting on this blank sheet of paper.”

Patrik Selin, CEO of Bodog Europe, added: “The recruitment drive is still at full pace but we are starting to get our ducks in a row now so we can really start to make an impression on the market on focus on the business from a customer facing perspective.”

November 09, 2010

Interwetten inaugurates business-to-business division

Online sportsbook operator Interwetten Group has announced the launch of a business-to-business division that is set to market its own ‘white-label’ sportsbetting solution to customers around the world.

The Austrian firm stated that the formation of its new Sportsbook Software AG subsidiary has been in the works since the start of the year and revealed that its emergence in order to market its own software developed in-house will not affect players at its online platform.

As part of a restructure, Interwetten also announced that Chief Financial Officer Rita Landauer has been promoted to serve as Chief Executive Officer for both Sportsbook Software AG and its parent firm. It stated that the 35-year-old has occupied a management position at Interwetten since 2006 and has also held senior roles with Ankerbrot AG and Denzel AG and. She is set to take over from Wolfgang Fabian, the founder of Interwetten, after he decided to step back from day-to-day operations.

“Over the last twelve months, we have worked together to create the structure for this step and prepare the systematic handover,” said Fabian.

“I firmly believe that the company is well-positioned and ideally equipped for many further years of success under the leadership of Rita Landauer. I wish her all the best in her new role.”

Bwin and PartyGaming merger 'on track'

Leading online betting and gaming provider Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and Gibraltar-based operator PartyGaming have released a joint statement regarding their ongoing merger and have confirmed that the process is ‘on track’.

The two firms announced at the end of July that they would be merging to create the world’s largest listed online gambling company and realise annualised synergies of around €55 million.
However, they stated late last week that they had ‘become aware of some speculation in the market’ regarding the slow speed of the merger and revealed that they expect the process to be completed by the first quarter of 2011.

The proposed agreement would see the assets and liabilities of Bwin transferred to PartyGaming to create a European joint stock company incorporated in Gibraltar. Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer for PartyGaming, is set to serve alongside Norbert Teufelberger, Co-Chief Executive Officer for Bwin, as Co-Chief Executive Officers for the new business with Bwin shareholders receiving 12.23 new PartyGaming shares for each share that they hold in the Austrian firm.

Hail Caesar! Harrah’s re-brands ahead of IPO

US gaming giant Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has set the price range for its initial public offering on Nasdaq, in the process dropping the Harrah’s brand as its corporate name.

Harrah’s is set to list 31.25m shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market at an estimated price range of $15.00 to $17.00 per share, bringing in estimated proceeds of between $469m and $531m which the company said will be used for general corporate purposes and to fund a near-term pipeline of growth projects.

The company’s shares will be listed under the stock symbol CZR, reflecting the new corporate name Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Caesars is Harrah’s flagship brand which it acquired in 2005 and the corporate name change is designed to leverage the strength of that brand which is seen as more prestigious, particularly in international markets where the company hopes to achieve a substantial part of its future growth.

Harrah’s has identified a number of opportunities which could help drive future growth including the liberalisations and legalisation of casino gambling both abroad and at home, and the continuing legalisation of online gambling.

The company is already present online in the UK under the Caesars and WSOP brands and also in the US with a free-play WSOP poker site.

November 06, 2010

AsianLogic to buy 12Bet

AsianLogic has agreed terms to acquire fellow Asian operator 12Bet for an undisclosed sum.

AsianLogic chief executive Kan Tang said the addition of 12Bet’s sportsbook strength would complement AsianLogic’s existing casino P2P brands.

“We can now offer our customers a comprehensive ‘best-of-breed’ suite of gaming products. The respective management teams have known each other for many years, so it’s also a great fit going forward operationally especially as we both use the same sportsbook and casino platform providers,” said Tang.

The underlying structures of AsianLogic and 12Bet, both licensed in the Phillippines but with European licences in Alderney and the Isle of Man respectively, will be integrated under a newly formed but as yet unnamed holding company.

Asian Poker Tour owner AsianLogic completed its delisting from London’s AIM exchange last July in response to low trading volumes in its shares since listing on the market in late 2007. It had previously declared its intention to focus on its higher margin Asian deposit business following the sale of its wholesale business.

12Bet, which today signed a deal to sponsor snooker’s UK Championship alongside its one-year sponsorship of snooker’s World Open, was granted a licence in September by the Isle of Man Supervision Commission in September. It also sponsors Sevilla FC in Spain and operates betting partnerships with English Premier League football teams Newcastle, WBA and Birmingham City.

Rory Anderson, chief executive for Europe for 12Bet added: “AsianLogic is very strong in the online casino and poker environment as well as controlling land-based brands such as the Asian Poker Tour, and being able to better offer these products to sportsbook customers should enhance revenues across the board.”