Eye on Europe - Dec. 5, 2006

5 December 2006

Even More Good News From Spain -- Just after the publication of Martin Oelbermann's (MECN) report, "The Spanish Gambling Market - a key region for future growth," there is even more good news coming from Spain. According to the Financial Times, the autonomous community of Madrid will open up regulation for new licenses for bookies and Internet betting. Further, the media are reporting that the European Commission has cleared the proposed joint venture between William Hill and Codere. The transaction was reviewed under the EU's "simplified" merger rules procedure. This is reserved for cases that the EC believes do not present competition issues.

Intralot -- Hellenic Intralot, the fastest growing gaming supplier and now the world's third largest lottery systems operator, last Friday saw its shares soar by 4.5 percent on the Common Platform of the Athens Stock Exchange S.A. and the Cyprus Stock Exchange. Investors anticipated good news coming from the tender in Italy, where the company has submitted bids for 500 of Italy's gambling points of sale under the country's betting privatization.

Italian Privatization -- The Italian Authority on State Monopolies (AAMS) has opened up a new regulated market with 17,000 licenses to the private sector. There will be 7,000 new sports betting shops and 10,000 outlets for betting on horse racing. The AAMS has listed 32 openings to online casinos, including Casino of San Remo and Casino of Venice. According to Italian lawyers, Eurobet placed a bid for 200 betting shops and 650 sales stores, and Italian company Sisal S.p.A., a company under the authority and coordination of Giochi Holding S.p.A., has bid for 160 betting shops and 880 sales stores. Cogetech asked for 175 shops and 175 corner stores, and Ladbrokes bid for 85 shops and 880 corner stores.

German Delay -- The plan by the prime ministers of the German federal states to ratify the controversial state treaty on gaming as early as Dec. 13, 2006 is on the verge of collapse. With the support of all parliamentary groupings, the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein on Wednesday passed a resolution to postpone the decision on the redrafting of the state treaty on gaming. The state parliament called unanimously on Prime Minister Peter Harry Carstensen to argue for a postponement of the decision at the Prime Ministers' Conference on the 13th, as a considerable number of legal aspects remain to be clarified. Since all 16 state leaders need to vote unanimously for it to go ahead, the treaty will not be ratified on the 13th.

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.