Eye on Europe - Jan. 19, 2007

19 January 2007

German Numbers -- According to Professor Tilman Becker of the University Hohenheim in Stuttgart, 50 percent of all German citizens participate regularly in games of chance. Conducted by the school's Gambling Research Center, the survey reveals that 30 billion euros were spent on games of chance in 2006. Other information: slots in halls, restaurants, gas stations or casinos: 14 million euros; lotto and lotteries: 10 billion euros; casinos: 3 billion euros; Oddset bets: 420 million euros; and sports betting (soccer and horses): 3 billion euros. Germany's population is 82.4 million.

On Stage -- The Totalizator Sportowy (the National State Lottery of Poland) has appeared on the Eye on Europe stage often. According to the Polish News Bulletin, sales continue to drop substantially. The National Lottery will attempt to reverse this trend by spending some 200 million euros on introducing a video lottery. Months ago it was announced that Internet betting would be introduced, and Tomasz Piotrowski, Betsson.com 's manager in Poland, is skeptical of the new plan. "Change of plans?" Piotrowski asked. "Afraid? Waiting for the law to be changed without preparing for it, or maybe just keeping it secret? This is the question that is more important, and if they will spend 200 million euro on video lotteries, good luck. Polish government-owned or partly owned companies will always have the corruption and indolence factor which makes them a very hard machine to steer. To change this, though, will take years--not months--and it has to be done on the national level. The people must change, not the company itself."

VEWU Speaks -- Due to a members meeting, I could not get in touch with the management of VEWU, the Verbandes Europäischer Wettunternehmer in Deutschland (the European Entrepreneurs in the Betting Sector), concerning the recent IGN article on the EBA and the RGA, but VEWU has since gotten back to me. The question I asked was: Can this industry speak with a single voice? Ingrid Sebald, responsible for media relations, responded, "Our members mainly work in the retail business; only a few of them provide online betting. This is the main difference between VEWU and the organizations of EBA and RGA. Nevertheless we all are in regular contact and exchange information. The recent political decisions in Germany by the state prime ministers lead to a closer cooperation between the three organizations. VEWU is convinced that close collaboration is necessary in order to work out an alternative treaty on gambling, which respects the different interests of all members (retail sports-betting, online sports-betting, gaming etc.) This treaty, which has to be consistent with European Law, must include regulations on f. ex. taxation, regulatory elements etc. Concerning these regulations there are decisive differences between retail business and online business. VEWU is optimistic that in 2007, which will bring a decision on the future of the sports-betting market in Germany, the three organizations will increase their cooperation and VEWU and its members are more than willing to do so." VEWU's members are: Cashpoint (Malta) Ltd., Digibet (Gibraltar), Goalbetter (U.K.), Happybet Sportwetten (Austria), Pagobet Sportwetten ( Austria), Primebet (Malta), Tipico (Malta) and TopSportWetten (Malta).

To Merge or Not to Merge -- More on the topic of speaking with one voice . . . Did you know that the Association of the Austrian Bookmakers (ÖBV), established in 1994, now has 36 members? The members are Admiral Sportwetten GmbH, Atlantic Gastronomiebedarf GmbH, Balmatic Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H., BestBet Sportwetten GmbH, BFH Wettbüro, Cash-Line Sportwetten GmbH, CBC com-bet-com WettgmbH, Certbet Online Solutions GmbH, DOMINO Trading GmbH, Elopex Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H., Expekt.com Sportwetten GmbH, Fortuna Sportwetten Ges. m.b.H., Gamebookers GmbH, Greyhounds Racing Wettgesellschaft m.b.H., Grün Weiss Sportwetten Styria GmbH, HappyBet Sportwetten GmbH, I.C.B. Beteiligungsgesellschaft m.b.H., Intertops Sportwetten Ges.m.b.H., JAXX GmbH, Jimenez KEG - New World 2000, Kick Tip Sportwetten GmbH, Hansjörg Kogler, MEC Sport und Entertainment GmbH, Österreichische Sportwetten Gesellschaft m.b.H., Albert Rupert Rohrmoser, Sportwetten Graz, Sportwetten Pirker GmbH, Sportwetten W-W GesmbH, Star Sportwetten GmbH, TopCil Sports, Top Goal Wetten GmbH, Top Sportwetten Ges.m.b.H., Top Play-Sportwetten GmbH, UI Sportwetten GmbH, Wettbüro Schwechat GmbH, Wett-Punkt Betriebsges mbH. Perhaps the EBA, RGA, VEWU and ÖBV need to have a visit.

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.