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Diamond and Tell merge iGaming


Despite a lack of enthusiasm in some parts for French liberation, Graham Wood reports that poker operators are doing rather well in the country.


FRANCE PARTYPOKER T


he new gaming regime in France undoubtedly has its critics, espe- cially over the


privileged status of the PMU and Francaise des Jeux retail monopolies, but there is no doubt that the newly regu- lated business has been a resounding success, partic- ularly as it was only launched three months ago. There are now 56 officially licensed gaming sites in the French markets, operated by 30 individual companies with 888 receiving approval for its 888.fr and Pacific Poker sites in the last full week of September. Unsur- prisingly, most sites are oper- ated by domestic companies but overseas operators are slowly catching up. With relatively low taxa- tion, and availability of cash games from day one (in con- trast with Italy which even now offers only tournament poker) the French poker market has proven to be a major success. Although no official figures have been released by the ARJEL authority, sites such as Pok- erscout have been tracking activity on the new .fr web- sites and have revealed the high levels of interest these have generated.


According to Pokerscout, Pokerstars and Winamax are leading the way whilst Everest Poker, PartyPoker and the Ongame network are also high in the rankings. According to the poker traffic rankings site, French sites now account for 20 per cent of all poker sites offer- ing cash games worldwide. In data published on the site at the end of September, it was revealed that Poker- stars.fr recorded a peak of 3,300 players on its site during the month, and a seven day average of 1,780 players, whilst Winamax saw a peak of 2,840 and seven day average of 1,340 players. However, it is not all good news for newly licensed French operators. ARJEL has warned that white label deals are severely restricted and therefore the type of co- branded sites common in the UK or Italy, where compa- nies without licences appear to be the main owners of the site, will not be allowed. Nevertheless, the forecast


APPARENTLY HAS REGISTERED 4.6M HITS ON ITS FRENCH SITE (NEWSCAST)


Swedish online gaming operators Diamond Bet and Tell Gaming, both Microgaming customers, are to merge and operate under the Diamond Bet brand. Tell’s academy promotion (pictured) is already running on Diamond’s website. CEO Alexander Stevendahl said: “We will continue to run DiamondBet in the same spirit as Tell has been run.”


Promising signs for French poker


PKR gets involved in London tournament


POKER P


oker operator PKR.com has joined forces with the newly-opened Fox Poker Club to launch London Calling, the English capital’s biggest ever poker festival. The venue will host 57 tournaments between Monday 11 October and Sunday 7 November at affordable buy-ins ranging from £20 to £100. The festival will conclude with a £300 buy-in main event. There is a long history of poker and related card games in London - the club itself is named after legendary 18th Century politician and gambler Charles Fox - but due to stringent gambling laws the city has never had a dedicated place to play legally. Clerkenwell’s Gutshot club was forced to close in 2007 for contravening the Gaming Act. Located on the site of the former Teatro member’s club on Shaftesbury Avenue, the luxurious venue occupies 6,500 square feet with seating for 200 players, and also boasts its own poker library and memorabilia from the world of poker.


PKR marketing director Simon Prodger commented: “It’s been our ambition to put on an event like this for some time, and we’re delighted that London now has the perfect venue in which to do so.” Chris North, managing director of Fox Poker Club, added: “We’re thrilled that Fox Poker Club in association with PKR.com is now open and offering poker players a world class facility here in London. The London Calling festival is going to be a tremendously exciting event and it’s all about bringing poker to the masses.”


888 show hits satellite TV


BROADCAST O ANALYSIS


The reluctance of the French public to transfer allegiance from overseas operators to French licensed ones may be more relevant to the sports betting business than to poker for the moment, but for online casino operators France has traditionally been one of the top four or five European markets, and with no equivalent offer from .fr sites, the process of luring French gamblers away from .com sites which offer a complete range of products may well take some time. Nevertheless, media reports suggest that 3m French players will have registered with .fr sites by the end of 2011.


for the market as a whole appears to be optimistic, despite concerns over the quality of the sports betting product on offer and the lack of any concrete data. First estimates indicate annual turnover of around 3bn euro (£2.6bn) with profits for the 30 licensed operators of between 300m and 400m euro (£260m - £347m). According to reports in the French media, the PMU is, unsurprisingly, market leader so far, having


12 BettingBusinessInteractive • OCTOBER 2010


recorded 5.3m visits to its site, 13.4 per cent of the total. The company is forecast to turn over 900m euro (£781m) in its first year of activity, rising to 1.1bn euro (£950,000) in 2011/12. Party- Poker apparently has regis- tered 4.6m hits on its site, 11.3 per cent of the total and ahead of Francaise des Jeux with 8 per cent share, but unfortunately, at this stage, official figures are few and far between.


Nonetheless, it does


appear that the new ‘legal’ gaming business has cap- tured the attention of the French public. Reports speak of there being 1.3m new accounts registered with the licensed operators, even though apparently up to two million French gam- blers have accounts with overseas gaming compa- nies, and reportedly only one hundred thousand players have closed their .com sites to play exclusively with the new operators.


nline operator 888 is extending its brand on to satellite TV in the UK where its 888sport show has made the transition from an internet broadcast to a regular feature of Channel One’s Friday evening pro- gramming.


The show kicked off in style with Australian cricket legend Shane Warne joining regular pundit Steve Clar- idge in discussing the best bets of that weekend with host Geoff Norcott. Avid golfer Warne also offered his candid views on the Ryder Cup clash at Celtic Manor. The 888sport Show aired for the first time on Channel One, formerly Virgin1, at the start of October and will run at the midnight each week for 16 weeks. Channel One can be viewed on Sky Digital channel 121, Freeview channel 20 or Virgin Media channel 119. 888sport.com’s vice president Todd Kobrin com- mented: “Shane’s a sporting legend so what better guest could we have to comment on one of the biggest week- ends in the sport calendar? The 888sport show’s been a massive hit online so far so we can’t wait for even more people to see it when it starts airing on Channel One this weekend. It’s must see TV for fans who like a bet.”


GEOFF NORCOTT, SHANE WARNE AND STEVE CLARIDGE IN DISCUSSION ON THE 888SPORT SHOW


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