Bwin Bucks Sequential Poker Lull

20 November 2008

Although building poker momentum from the second quarter into the third has been troublesome for a number of I-gaming operators this year, Bwin Interactive Entertainment A.G. grew net revenue from poker by 10 percent, sequentially.

"Our investment in brand is paying dividends, and we are gaining market share," Kevin O'Neal, a press officer with Bwin, told IGamingNews when asked about the quarter-over-quarter growth.

The Vienna company's nearest competitors in the space -- Playtech Ltd., PartyGaming and GigaMedia Ltd. -- were flat or down during the third quarter on stiffer competition, technological downtime or foreign exchange losses.

Poker, which accounted for 23.7 percent of gross gaming revenue, went live in Italy during the quarter in real-money, tournament-play format.

Norbert Teufelberger, who spoke today during an analyst Web cast, said that in 12-hour segments, the Italian poker operation is generating gross gaming revenue of 15,000 euros.

The Italian poker figures are among the first to be publicized as returns from Gtech Corporation and Playtech -- which both have created networks there -- are anticipated in the coming months.

Out of total gross gaming revenue of 95.9 million euros, however, sports betting remains the company's core product and generated 51 million euros.

Though sports betting gross revenue grew year over year, it slipped 13 percent, sequentially, on the lull in sporting events after the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship.

As the popularity of lower margin live betting grew, the company said its overall betting margin -- 7.4 percent -- slipped from 8.4 percent last year and 7.9 percent the previous quarter. It has forecast a margin bandwidth of between 7 percent and 9 percent going forward.

Casino gross revenue came in at 16.9 million euros, up 17.3 percent against last year but down 2.8 percent, sequentially, while games, 5.4 million euros, were up 3.9 percent against 2007 but flat versus the second quarter.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the quarter were 9.6 million euros, down 36 percent compared to 2007 and 9.4 percent against the last quarter.

For the three-month period, Bwin made a loss after tax of 7 million euros.

It said fourth quarter average daily gross revenue has started up 25 percent over the third quarter. The company also inked a deal with Éditions Philippe Amaury, a French media group, to build out an online gambling offering once the French government fully implements a new regulatory scheme that has yet to be published.

IGN will examine this deal in a future article.

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.