Eye on Europe - April 28, 2006

28 April 2006

Betting Show -- Starting May 3, the first real German-speaking TV betting show will air on ProSieben Austria, Sat 1 Österreich and Cable Eins Austria, all part of the German ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG group. The program will be formatted with an Internet platform. Full details will be given during a press presentation on May 2. The licensed operator associated with the show will be revealed at that time. The German Group TV stations--Sat.1, ProSieben, kabel eins, N24 and 9Live--have a 31 percent market share. They cooperate in sports betting in Germany with the Austrian operator Intertops.

Porko's Plug-and-Play -- Finnish EGET, a company within the PAF Group, launched a new business-to-business service aimed at the European non-gaming consumer. The "Branded Partner Services" concept is a fully managed e-gaming service comprising a complete games portfolio, technical and operational services as well as a gaming license. "We believe this plug-and-play service will be a good strategic fit for media companies, airlines, cruise and ferry operators, sports clubs and other strong brand owners with an existing customer base," PAF Group CEO Lars Porko said.

Plan B? -- The Finnish gambling monopoly has an interesting monthly service called "eNews," and this month's edition reports, among other things, on the European Commission's decision to open an infringement procedure. The Finnsh stance is a tough one. They are not afraid of the commissioner or the Gambelli ruling and they believe in their own national gaming policy. Above that, they have trust in the bureaucracy and the slow milling of court proceedings. eNews writes: "Opening an infringement procedure is a normal EU practice, following complaints filed to the Commission. It, therefore, does not basically constitute a legal procedure. In practice, the Finnish state will receive a letter of formal notice from the Commission, requesting the state to provide grounds for the exclusive right system. Should the Commission not be satisfied with the response, it can request for further explanations by sending a reasoned opinion to the Finnish state. The state can respond to the reasoned opinion by giving further grounds or by adapting its system. After this, if the state's grounds and measures are not deemed satisfactory by the Commission, it may decide to file a lawsuit against the state at the EC Court. An infringement procedure may take years, as we have seen in, e.g., Denmark and Sweden." It seems Plan B is not needed!

No Law -- A new Internet betting association has been established in Spain: the Spanish Association of Internet Sports Bettors (Española de Apostadores Deportivos por Internet, AEDAPI). Its founding members are Unitbet, represented by the association's president, Juan Pablo; Betfair, represented by the association's vice president and spokesman, Sacha Michaud; Globet, represented by association board member Yago Perrin; and Interapuestas, represented by board member Cesar Paredes. Other members include Interwetten and TodoApuestas. Ten of the 15 existing Internet sports betting operators targeting Spain are members. The board expects that all 15 bookmakers will become members. The association's mission is twofold: 1) to act against discrimination and against the monopolies via free competition, and 2) to help develop a sector with solvent, stable and professional sports betting. "The association was created primarily to offer support and information to the Spanish betting public," Michaud explained. "We considered that the market is very large and growing every day and there was no protection for these consumers. This also includes trying to be an active part of the legislation changes as they occur in Spain." Barrachina added, "In Spain there does not exist one single gaming law; we have at least 17 gaming laws--one for each autonomous communities. All laws regulate bingo, casinos and slot machines, but not offline/online sports book activities. One of our missions is to convince both (state and autonomous community bodies) that they have to write a new and open online and offline gaming law." The 15 Spanish-facing Internet sports betting operators had a combined turnover of 255 million euro in 2005.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.