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Playtech link ruffles Sportech suppliers


Sportech has been increasing the number of Classic Pools games FOOTBALL GAMING F


ootball pools operator Sportech has revealed the emergence of Playtech as a shareholder in the company has caused some problems with the firm’s existing supplier base. In its interim report, Sportech revealed that a generally challenging eGaming environment had been made more difficult by the ‘considerable uncertainty with regard to our software providers following the acquisition, by Playtech Limited, of a sizeable shareholding’. The firm said that it had to make several ‘short-term’ business decisions as a consequence but that it was looking forward to being able to use Playtech’s expertise in the eGaming arena next year. For the first half of the year, Sportech’s adjusted operating profit amounted to £8.6m (down from £9.4m for the same period last year) with the reduc- tion primarily because of the group’s preparation for the acquisition of Scientific Games Racing (SGR) and a shortfall within its casino and poker operations. Sportech chief executive Ian Penrose is keen to get the SGR deal wrapped up to allow the company to progress: “The completion of the acquisition of Scientific Games Racing has taken longer than origi- nally expected, due to the extensive regulatory approval process in North America. However, recent progress has given us confidence to anticipate that completion will occur in the near future. The


enlarged group will have the capability to take advantage of the rapidly growing regulated gaming markets worldwide, building upon our strong pools/tote sporting and technology foundations.” Sportech’s football gaming division saw relatively flat performance, but the company has big plans for the future. The company has aligned its product mix to closely follow the expanding football fixture list and to offer customers increasing betting opportuni- ties. As a result, the number of Classic Pools games available in 2010 will have increased from 66 to 71 and it anticipates a further increase in 2011. The firm is already seeing a 10 per cent increase in spend per head from those customers who have been offered and taken up these additional games. An enhanced footballpools.com website was launched last month, capitalising on the additional 12,000 online players that the company attracted during the World Cup. Built into this website is tech- nology that allows a simple, seamless integration of an enlarged suite of football pools games into third party gaming websites, effectively offering additional gaming products to Sportech’s partners at a guaran- teed margin with no risk to them. Ladbrokes.com has recently signed an agreement to take this product offering and the company anticipates further partnerships to emerge in due course.


Paddy Power aiming to profit from Irish problems


IRELAND T


he Irish retail betting market has been described as ‘particularly difficult’ by Paddy Power ‘where the recession is severe and the supply of shops had grown very substantially up to 2008’. But while the firm says that this is challenging for performance in the short term the strength of the Paddy Power offer puts it in an ‘excellent position to emerge from this recession with a stronger market position’. The bookmaker estimates its competitors have closed 155 shops over the last two years and that there are currently circa 1,200 shops in the industry. The amounts staked within Irish Retail increased marginally to 476m euro (£396m) for the first half of the year, with gross win falling by 2 per cent to 55m euro (£45.8m), with a gross win percentage of 11.7 per cent, just slightly below the 12.0 per cent mid- point of the expected range.


Paddy Power aims to cement customer loyalty and generation of further brand awareness through its Money Back Specials, such as the one pictured where


40 BettingBusinessInteractive • SEPTEMBER 2010


the bookmaker has pledged to refund a huge range of losing bets on the match if Kilkenny lost the All Ireland hurling final. When the World Cup Final fin- ished goalless after 90 minutes this summer, Paddy Power refunded 50,000 customers across the group.


Crossing


Jonathan Strock is chief operating officer at Barriere Interactive Gaming, the online arm of the French casino giant. Ahead of his appearance on a European iGaming Congress and Expo panel discussing ‘Offline meets online’, he speaks to Betting Business interactive.


INTERVIEW W


hy has it taken land-based casinos so long to embrace online gaming?


Land based casinos are in fact a very conservative industry. Casinos are generally licensed by central or local government and require large investments that are paid for over the life of the casino. Laws and regulations for land based casinos are well known and understood and penalties for illegal gambling are very


heavy. In my opinion it is the legal uncertainty that has stopped or slowed the inclu- sion of online gaming in the product range of land based casinos. This should be addressed within the next few years as more and more coun- tries legalise online gaming


Are there more differences than similarities between land-based and online casinos? Ultimately, there are more dif- ferences than similarities.


(ACTION IMAGES / PETER CZIBORRA LIVEPIC)


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