Everest Bets Eyeing Shirt Sponsorship? Not Now, Company Says

5 January 2009

GigaMedia Ltd., in the footsteps of PartyGaming and 888 Holdings, is the latest multi-channel operator to enter the sports betting arena, and it's doing so with an eye on the advertising purse strings.

Robert J. Cahill, GigaMedia's head of software and service, told IGamingNews Monday that Everest Bets, which launched in conjunction with Victor Chandler International before Christmas, will, initially, be cross-sold to existing customers and pushed via the company's affiliate network.

Mr. Cahill said the possibility for a shirt-sponsorship deal -- albeit remote -- exists in 2009, but that the company's advertising focus, for now, will remain with Harrah's Entertainment Inc. and its popular World Series of Poker franchise.

"As you know, we've got a pretty significant investment with Harrah's and the WSOP sponsorship -- that's our flagship sponsorship right now," he said. "That will be a big part of our advertising focus in 2009. So whether we do something as bold as a major sports sponsorship this year . . . we'd have to see."

Jersey sponsorship deals have served -- for better or worse -- as intrigue magnets for the likes Bwin Interactive Entertainment A.G., Betfred and Mansion. More recently, betting groups with dual licensure in Asia and Europe, like Sports Bookie Online and Caspo Interactive Ltd., have begun to settle into English Premiership stadia.

Mr. Cahill said GigaMedia, which, historically, has been weak in the United Kingdom, could get a boost there from Victor Chandler -- one of the country's best-known bookmakers. For now, however, the nascent offering will be marketed to Continental Europe, where the majority of GigaMedia's poker players -- its primary revenue base -- calls home.

Although the company gave no financial guidance on Everest Bets, Todd Eilers, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners in California, expects the service could, conservatively, generate $4 million in its first year.

Looking ahead, Mr. Cahill said the company intends to use Everest Bets to offset slowing momentum in poker, revenue from which fell 14 percent in the third quarter over the second.

"We did a lot of surveys with our poker customers and we determined that a significant amount [of them] also bet on sports, in some form or another," he said. "The expectations are pretty high."

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