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PKR top of the pile


Online poker firm PKR and bookmaker Bet365 have been named as some of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies in the 10th annual Sunday Times Microsoft Tech Track 100. The 3D poker operator came top of the list with a 356 per cent increase in sales year from £347,000 in 2006 to £33m in 2009. Bet365 was ranked 31 with sales growth of 62 per cent a year from £97.9m in 2007 to £418m in 2010.


appointments corporate


At a time when other companies in the sector are openly downsizing, the Bodog brand has been firmly heading in the opposite direction. Kris Marshall, previously head analyst at Full Tilt Poker and before that PartyGaming, has joined Bodog Europe. CEO Patrik Selin commented: “Kris is another important part of the team we are building right now and given the momentum we have we are continuing to drive our recruitment in many different sectors.”


SIMON BURRIDGE IS TASKED WITH HELPING THE VIRGIN BRAND TAKE OFF IN THE GAMBLING ARENA


SIMON BURRIDGE: ‘IT IS EXTREMELY SATISFYING TO BE WHERE WE ARE NOW’


rgin on gambling tertainment


cusses brand power ahead of his appearance at the 9th annual European ce at the Bella Center in Copenhagen on 19-21 October.


adversarial politics of punter v bookie


sportsbooks or punter v punter in poker. Obviously, these stop being quite so much fun when you realise your skills are not as great as you thought!


Perhaps this is why brands such as Virgin and Sky, with their core associations emanating not from gaming but from a wider background linked to leisure, attract a different type of customer. Gambling or gaming has always been a recreational activity, from the Romans throwing dice to watching England’s multi-millionaire dollar team publicly deflate in 2010. So maybe the thin line as to which is the better entertainment brand is whether or not you enjoyed the experience of playing.


You’ve recently developed on in-house gaming platform. How satisfying was this for the company? In hindsight, we launched our in-house gaming platform at the worst possible time when the


recession really began to bite. Aside from the inevitable - and to be honest, some not so inevitable - technical problems, migrating our whole customer base onto the new platform was always going to be a tricky undertaking. And so it proved.


Nevertheless, now we have come through the other side, it is extremely satisfying to be where we are now. And where is that? Firstly, we’ve got a state of the art platform which, with each new release, just gets better and better. Secondly, we have regained control of all our customer touch points - from registration, verification and banking to operating our own in- house 24/7 customer service centre; and thirdly, we have moved from exclusive contracts with limited content suppliers to a world where we can accept content from everyone, resulting in a much richer and more diverse range of games for our customers to play. In short, we have regained


control of our own destiny and can introduce new features, promotions, content, whatever, that can differentiate Virgin Games in the market.


Virgin is offering


consumers the opportunity to gamble on hundreds of video games over the web. Is there a danger in blurring the lines between video gaming and gambling given the juvenile perception of video gaming, or is it an untapped route for player acquisition? In fact, we don’t offer consumers hundreds of video games through our website. At least, not yet. Virgin Gaming (as opposed to Virgin Games), which was recently launched, is a sister company that allows players of console games to bet against each other when they play. It is a separate company and a distinct offering. However, plans are well advanced for Virgin Games to offer the market the ability to download and start playing PC games pretty much instantaneously, and


so the question is very relevant to the future. Virgin Games’ ambition, from the outset, has always been to provide the ultimate online entertainment destination for those who like to play games from gambling (poker, casino, bingo sportsbook) on the one hand to softer games (PC, console, skill) on the other. The checks we already have in place to bar under-age players and players form illegal jurisdictions are such that we can offer both without compromising our integrity or endangering younger customers. Additionally, it is a fallacy that video gaming is just for ‘juveniles’. The largest age segment of players is between 25 and 34 and, indeed, from a commercial point of view, those are the players with the most disposable revenue. As for whether it is an untapped route for player acquisition, we hope the answer is yes, but the success of the project does not depend on it being so.


Joining Marshall is Dave Edwards, formerly with Sportingbet, but now director of QA for Bodog Europe and whose job it now is to set in place processes and practices to ensure that the firm’s software products are of high quality. Jesper Svensson has also joined the team as global casino player marketing manager from Adsdotcom, where he was responsible for the P&L of the InterCasino/InterPoker Platinum Club. Before that he was involved in CRM with Ladbrokes.


Aideen Shortt, formerly of Airton Risk Management, Chartwell Games and Coral Eurobet, has joined CleverTV as business development director. The firm was founded in 2002, and has a wide product range focused on ‘enhancing entertainment’ by merging live sports data with the consumer’s passion for sports, mainly through a portfolio of innovative fantasy league and prediction games.


LBO channel Turf TV has appointed Steve Walsh as its new head of marketing. Walsh joins the broadcaster from Betfred, where he was marketing controller, and before that worked at Stan James UK and Stanleybet.


Former Victor Chandler marketing director Peter Laverick has joined International Gaming Technology (IGT) as the new director of player marketing. Despite being an online expert, Laverick will not be joining the London office of WagerWorks, IGT’s online gaming arm, but instead will be working at the firm’s San Francisco offices as well as the IGT head office in Las Vegas.


Kevin Young has been appointed chief technical manager at The Weather Lottery, the online lottery and gaming firm, in order to run the business after managing director Keith Millhench was forced to resign due to ill health. The board of TWL has said it has already started the process of identifying a new CEO to properly replace Millhench.


Paul Derwin has joined VueTec and become DublinBet’s affiliate manager. Derwin has over a decade of digital agency experience and will be responsible for managing the important relationships between DublinBet.com and its affiliates. He commented: “I am aiming to use my business experience and my passion for gaming to increase awareness of DublinBet.com and develop an industry- leading affiliate programme that already boasts excellent conversion rates.”


KRIS MARSHALL: ONE OF SEVERAL NEW FACES AT BODOG EUROPE


BettingBusinessInteractive • OCTOBER 2010 43


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