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New licence for Soccer Millionaire


Online games developer Soccer Millionaire has received a Core Service Provider Associate licence from the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, enabling the company to provide its games under Alderney licence. CEO David Galan commented: “This allows Soccer Millionaire to offer its products to a much wider customer base, including other Alderney licensees, as well as in the UK, Soccer Millionaire’s traditional B2C market. Soccermillion- aire.com has been totally revamped for the 2011/12 football season and we are excited about the prospects with new and innovative products.”


MBO for Scotbet


INDEPENDENT S


cotland’s largest independent bookmaking chain Scotbet has undergone a management buyout after parent company Festival Group struggled to get to grips with the economic downturn. The existing management, but without former chief executive Kenny Waugh, bought out the 65 betting shops in Scotland and its online site for an undisclosed sum, thanks to financing from Clydesdale Bank. Gambling consultant and former Tote chief executive John Heaton will be the firm’s new chairman. He commented: “There are a lot of offshore businesses which are very successful, but this company is licensed by the Gambling Commission with 65 high street outlets, and it’s a good time to expand the online brand. This is a small, well-run group which is profitable and it’s a good opportunity to expand.” The firm rebranded to Scotbet from the more traditional Morrison’s Bookmakers three years ago in order to distance itself from the supermarket chain and the Scottish building firm which also used the name. The company had adopted the Scotbet brand to aid online expansion at the time and also had plans to increase the size of the LBO estate to 175 by the end of 2009 before the economic downturn hit.


pop troupe, but the ABB’s Dirk Vennix is convinced


should go by 2014. We have to redefine the relationship between horseracing and bookmakers for the better, with a modern commercial arrangement fit for the 21st century. We agree with horseracing that new com- mercial agreements should be to the mutual benefit of both parties.


“Horseracing has stated they want to enter into direct commercial negotiations with the betting industry which should result in fair and enforceable payments. We agree with this in princi- ple and would welcome a constructive meeting with horseracing, facilitated by government, to discuss how a commercial framework could work in 2014.” However, the ABB said that any such commercial deal should not be under- pinned by the creation of a ‘Horserace Betting Right’, which the racing industry is pushing for to replace the Levy Scheme. The ABB said it strongly believes it would be entirely unwarranted and that such a move would ‘hand horseracing a state sponsored monopoly to add


to its existing media rights monopolies, undesirable in a free market economy’. The association said: “Bookmakers would be forced to pay upfront for a licensed ‘betting right’, which once granted to horseracing could allow them to unilaterally set the value and terms of the ‘right’. Horseracing stated last week that this ‘right’ could be based on turnover: evi- dence provided in our [Levy] submission clearly indi- cates this would most prob- ably lead to 2,000 shop closures, 10,000 job losses and a reduction of income to horseracing.”


Another concern would be the VAT situation given


ANALYSIS


Ironically, horseracing might regret being so hasty in calling for the abolishment of the Levy if the DCMS is successful at drawing offshore operators back to the UK using legislation, and making them liable for Gambling Commission fees, taxation and Levy payments. But the downright refusal of the sport to acknowledge that bookmakers are paying racing exponentially more in media rights while they complain about falling Levy levels does it no favours at all. Its claims will particularly stick in the bookmaker’s throat as the horseracing industry appears to be the only business in the country not affected by the economic downturn, thanks to funding from a struggling betting sector.


that the betting industry will mostly be exempt from VAT following the amalgamation of gaming machine duty and VAT, currently scheduled for early 2013.


The ABB said: “British


bookmakers already pay as much in tax as they retain in profit, so we need to ensure a commercial arrangement does not end up increasing our costs. Twenty percent irrecoverable VAT would be unaffordable for most, if not all, operators and would undoubtedly lead to shop closures and job losses. This has not been addressed by racing’s proposal and must be considered in detail by government to ensure the commercial deal is viable.”


Betsson S


Positive outlook from


INTERIMS


wedish online operator Betsson has delivered an upbeat assessment for the potential of the gambling industry in its


interim report. The firm, which was also been very pleased with its acquisition of Betsafe despite only having it a few months, said it was of the opinion that the online gaming market will ‘continue to develop strongly’. It commented: “A considerable portion of the world’s citizens still have no or limited access to the internet. The number of internet users is growing rapidly, which is a fundamental driver for the business. The confidence in internet and e-commerce is increasing as more people use the internet to perform their banking and stock market transactions, insurance business and other purchases. This changing behaviour and increasing confidence in e-commerce is important for the online gaming industry.” Gross income in Betsson’s B2C segment for the first half of 2011 amounted to SEK151.8m (£14.2m), an increase of 10 per cent. The Nordic countries account for 76 per cent of the business with the rest of the EU representing 23 per cent. The firm added: “Betsson’s acquisition of the rapidly-growing Betsafe, the implementation of clear areas of responsibility and a strengthened organisation imply significant improvements to the group’s B2C segment. As a whole, the segment has substantial growth opportunities.”


BettingBusinessInteractive • AUGUST 2011 9


ACTION IMAGES / JULIAN HERBERT LIVEPIC


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