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Responsible side


The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is to hold its third Responsible Gaming Day in Brussels this month. Stakeholders will be meeting in European Parliament on 13 October to participate in a fact-based discussion around best practices for responsi- ble gaming and betting in the EU. The event will be hosted by MEP Timothy Kirkhope.


LEE ROUSSO AND THE POKER PLAYERS ALLIANCE HAS BEEN CAMPAIGNING AGAINST THE UIGEA FOR SOME TIME


Bingo Stars falls to earth for NetPlayTV


TV GAMING T


he failure of Net- PlayTV’s interactive soft gaming format ‘Bingo Stars’ on ITV1 has had major repercussion for the AIM-listed live gaming operator. The newly devel- oped cross platform game did not perform in line with expectations and ended up becoming a ‘major cost to the company’.


IGEA takes ngton


nto its own hands in Washington in d.


for gambling operators, by sheer dint of potential. While many are waiting for laws to change in order to exploit the American market, some have been working with the legislation to try and service US citizens’ desire for gambling. One such firm is of Webis Holdings which has been offering pari-mutuel betting through its that European Wagering Serv- ices (EWS) division. The firm has just acquired the domain name, trademark and assets of WatchandWager.com LLC (WAW), a company registered in Nevada and licensed by the State of North Dakota Racing Commission for a total considera- tion of $100,000 (£63,000).


As part of the acquisition, the Commis- sion has also granted formal approval for EWS and WAW to conduct pari-mutuel account deposit wagering in the US, subject to state by state legislation, under the licence held by WAW. Ed Comins, the group’s pari-mutuel operations director, commented: “WatchandWager will significantly enhance EWS’ presence and ability to develop effectively its sales and market- ing strategy within the US pari-mutuel horseracing industry. An ‘on the ground’ US gaming licence and business operation also provides EWS with a significant first mover advantage in the US online betting and gaming market place.”


ANALYSIS


The judgement has apparently had an immediate effect, with Pokerstars reportedly blocking its Washington state customers from playing for real money. But Alfonse D’Amato remains bullish. “By no means is the fight over,” he said. “The PPA will pursue other legal and legislative efforts to overturn this law and will continue to work with lawmakers in Washington State and Washington DC to pass legislation to license and regulate online poker and protect the rights of poker players to enjoy the game they love wherever they chose to play it.”


While the court’s decision is disappointing for the industry, the judgement has laid down more of a legal framework under which the interested parties can now work with a bit more clarity.


The company had expected ‘significant returns from this format’ but did not deliver the player numbers expected - in fact, the numbers were significantly lower than the lower end forecasts. Despite attempts to alter the format and start times, the overall response and player values remained ‘very disappointing’. Bingo Stars was soon yanked from screens and replaced with the Challenge Jackpot brand, but the finan- cial damage had already been done. Chief executive officer Martin Higginson explained: “Upon the termi- nation of the ‘Bingo Stars’ product, the company set about a detailed review of the business. This included a full review of staff numbers and key contracts, as well as a review of each business unit. Over the past few weeks, staff numbers have been reduced signifi- cantly and a number of non- core contracts have been terminated. The business has a renewed focus on Net-


MARTIN HIGGINSON: ‘WE


HAVE LEARNT A LOT FROM THIS EXPERIENCE’


PlayTV’s core casino assets.”


NetPlayTV chairman Clive Jones believes there is still plenty to be positive about. He said: “NetPlay boasts one of the largest ‘live’ gaming businesses in the world. We have a proven business model and an excellent suite of products which we deliver over a con- verged interactive gaming experience allowing our customers to interact on a variety of platforms, TV, internet and mobile from a common integrated wallet.” Higginson was also prag- matic: “Unfortunately, the soft gaming ‘Bingo Stars’ tele-shopping format did not work, which signifi- cantly affected the returns from the trial on ITV1. We have learnt a lot from this experience and we are using this knowledge to re-focus and expand our core live casino offering and return to sustainable profitability.”


Overall, NetplayTV posted a loss before tax of £7.9m for the first six months of the year, but Hig- ginson is hoping for a better finish to 2010, especially as its new real money casino iPhone roulette application received over 3,000 down- loads in the first two weeks. He added: “The ITV trial comes to an end during November 2010, and our discussions with ITV are ongoing, as is the restruc- turing of our business and we will update sharehold- ers on the outcome during the next quarter. Net- PlayTV’s core live casino business remains strong and, although July was impacted by a large numbers of winners with the gaming margin falling to 1.2 per cent, it returned to normal patterns in August and September delivering gaming margins of 3 per cent (our long term average).”


Betsson improves legal standing


COUNSEL O


nline operator Betsson has been told by the district court in Stockolm that the Swedish government’s ban on slot machines in 1997 was illegal, despite the fact that the operator lost a SEK102m (£9.6m) claim for damages over the improp- erly imposed ban.


Betsson CEO Pontus Lindwall com- mented: “A clear case of court decay. Apparently, the state can act outside the law while the law applies for everyone else.”


However, the online gaming and betting operator has now moved to improve its legal expertise with the appointment of Martin Thorvaldsson as group general counsel. Thorvaldsson, who has joined from GTech G2, will be based in Betsson’s Gibraltar office where he will be in charge of the legal matters of the Betsson Group.


MARTIN THORVALDSSON


He has e-gaming track record going back to 1997 when he joined Boss Media in a similar position.


Lindwall commented: “I met Martin in this industry back in 1997 so I know he has a great experience, which Betsson now will profit from.”


Thorvaldsson added: “I’m really looking


forward to join what is considered as one of the most agile companies in this industry.”


BettingBusinessInteractive • OCTOBER 2010 11


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