Eye on Europe - Jan. 13, 2006

13 January 2006

We Met Before? -- The RTL Group, owner of 34 TV channels and 30 radio stations in 11 countries, has asked permission of the German cartel counsel to start a joint venture with Austrian sports betting company Starbet. As a result, RTL will sell around 80 percent of its shares of subsidiary Gambelino GmbH to Starbet Holding AG. In return RTL Interactive will obtain a 30 percent stake in Starbet. Gambelino is responsible for online betting portal RTLtipp.de, where players can participate in legal betting products of Germany. Within two months the cartel counsel will make its decision, which provides ample time before the start of the World Cup Football tournament in Germany. Starbet has an Austrian betting license, and its GM is the former founder of Betandwin, Michael Tojner, now owner of the financial-holding GEP.

A Little Humor -- Just one day after the announcement of the takeover of GTECH by Lottomatica, the following list was published on a lottery news site. I thought: finally humor in the gambling industry. However, one day later the top ten list was taken off the website at request of advertisers. Not too much humor after all...

Top 10 Changes at GTECH After Lottomatica Takeover

1. Board room lunches will improve, burgers, fries and coke to be replaced with Linguini Vongole Alla Palmira and a glass of Paolo Toscano Chianti.

2. Head Office will be moved to Brooklyn to be close to the Palmiras Ristorante.

3. Terminal cases will be redesigned by Versacci.

4. "My life" by Giacomo Casanova will be compulsory reading.

5. "Come voi che fate" will replace "How you do'in" as the corporate greeting.

6. Software upgrades will be called - ventiquattro.uno, ventiquattro.due, etc.

7. Sales presentations will be subtitled in English.

8. Only espresso coffee will be served in the canteen.

9. It will be against company policy for GTECH Staff to talk with their hands in their pockets anymore.

10. Hot shot salesmen will drive Ferrari, Lamborghini; technical staff will drive Fiats.

-By Glenn Barry of McCallum Consultants.

Can Not Play --The Greek Government has announced that Greek first division football teams will finally be included in Stihima, the fixed odds betting games offered by state-run lottery and football pools organization OPAP. Greece's football Champion team, Olympiakos, will not be included in Stihima however due to a conflict of interests; the club's president Socrates P. Kokkalis, is owner and Chairman of Stihima's operator Intralot.

Israel Goes Interactive -- In 2005 the Israel Sports Betting Board (ISBB) became an active Internet betting site, and in 2006 ISBB expects to get a license for an interactive television gambling channel that will allow a combination of betting and sports viewing. In addition, a mobile phone betting system is already completed and awaiting approval. Since its Internet launch about one year ago, the ISBB has generated about NIS 35 million (US$8 million) in revenue. The total revenues for the ISBB for 2005 reached a record high of NIS 1.079 billion ($240 million), an increase of 21 per cent compared to the previous year.

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.