Big Change Means Big Business in the UK

2 July 2003

Despite the delay of a massive overhaul of gambling laws in the United Kingdom, one telecommunications company is targeting online gaming operators and others in the industry who could be relocating to England when the new laws are passed.

Executives from BTeLocations, BT Telecommunications PLC's inward investment unit, were at the Fifth Annual Global Interactive Gaming Summit & Expo (GIGSE) in Montreal last month
recommending the United Kingdom as a location for gaming industry investment and exhibiting the support the group can provide.

BTeLocations has carved out a niche for itself by providing technology solutions for companies looking to set up new operational bases in England.

The I-gaming industry is expected to flourish in the United Kingdom upon the passage of an expansive bill that would liberalize the countries gambling laws and, among many things, set up a framework for licensed online casinos. A draft proposal of the bill was scheduled for introduction in the Parliament this fall, although it could be delayed because the massive legislation, which could include more than 230 clauses, has overwhelmed officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Nevertheless, it is expected that these changes will take place within the next two to three years.

With that in mind, BTeLocations is targeting new entries into the U.K. market as well as established companies looking to expand their services when the new policies are in place.

Their focus at GIGSE was promoting ventureSmart, a service that helps companies reduce their financial risk and create greater flexibility in their investmentsm, and LocationSearch, which helps gaming companies fulfill the business requirements of specific U.K. locations.

ventureSmart is an innovative approach for companies looking to invest in a new business in the United Kindgom, but put off by the capital investment, risk and complexity of setting up operations. Through ventureSmart, BTeLocations takes responsibility for as much or as little of an
investing company's expansion activities into the United Kingdom as they require.

By allowing BTeLocations to take over part of the expansion plan a company then assumes a lower capital investment with reduced risk and lower overhead.

The LocationSearch service, meanwhile, helps companies navigate the location maze by matching business needs to specific locations. It provides unbiased and detailed information, based on local expertise, on the location that best fits a company's business requirements.

The service also gives BTeLocations' partners access to more than 50 premier, pre-equipped business, technology and science parks across England.

In addition to the two services, BTeLocations operates a series of pre-equipped business parks, which are complete with the latest fiber-optic technology. Gerard O'Sullivan, the global vice-president for the company, said they offer the latest in communications technology to support efforts in the design, delivery and installation of Internet gambling stations, new hotel and casino facilities and online gaming activities.

When the overhaul of U.K. gaming policy occurs is anyone's guess, but what's understood throughout the industry is that the expansion of gambling there will be followed by rapid growth in the Internet sector. O'Sullivan pointed out that analysts estimate England will have a £1.4 billion share of the online gambling market by 2004.

"There's no doubt that the U.K. gambling and gaming sector is a strong growth area," he said. "With almost three-quarters of the U.K. adult population participating in gambling and gaming, the current U.K. legislation will help fully establish it as a mainstream, leisure activity with all the opportunities that it brings."

In addition, as part of one of the world's largest telecommunications companies, with over 4,000 products and services and an annual spend of £300 million on research and development, BTeLocations will be able to offer gaming companies the latest communications solutions.

"Whether it be international or indigenous investment, BTeLocations is determined to be at the forefront of this growing market, offering a complete package to interested companies," O'Sullivan said.

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