Eye on Europe - June 26, 2006

26 June 2006

Congratulations -- At Internetworld's yearly Top 100 event, where Sweden's best online sites are seeded, Cherry's Betsson was chosen to as the best Swedish website in the category of Sport and Gambling. In competition with other prominent gambling sites, Betsson was seen to have an innovative interface, realistic gaming, high clarity and general good design.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do -- The Cherry Group will suggest at its upcoming Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) that the Company be split up into three separate identities: Betsson (Cherry Online with Betsson and Internet Casinos), Net Entertainment (Internet Gaming Systems) and Cherry Casino (international Traditional Casino games and Gaming Machines). Cherry believes that a decision will be made during the summer of 2006.

Interactivity Sells -- Israel's national lottery, Mifal Hipayis, reported revenues of US$198 million for the first three months of the year, an 11 percent increase against the same period of 2005, Haaretz reported today. Operating profit rose by 27% to $47 million. This was the best financial result in the 55-year history of Mifal Hapayis, a proud member of the European lotteries. However, Mifal's chairman Shimon Katzenelson said that growth cannot be maintained unless the treasury allows Mifal Hapayis to sell tickets online and via mobile phones.

Power Play -- A new large competitor has entered the Spanish market (a joint venture between Marca (60%) and Bet365 (40%). This new competitor will service Spaniards and Spanish language people. Marca owns a daily newspaper, sports radio station and has one of the biggest sports sites. Marca owned the TV broadcasting rights for the first week of the World Cup in Spain. This is the first betting site on TV and with TV spots. Bet 365 is a division of bet 365 Group limited, a UK licensed gaming group since 1974.

Heavyweights -- International media and TV concern RTL, part of German media group Bertelsmann, will take on a German regional court that forbids advertising for spots for Starbet. Bertelsmann is a shareholder of the Austrian operator of Starbet. The TV broadcaster has also announced that it will claim damages from state operator Nordwest Lotto, the state lottery operator that brought about the ban. Dr. Winfried Wortmann is the President and CEO of the Westdeutsche Lotterie GmbH & Co, which was created in 1955 under the name of "NordwestLotto in Nordrhein-Westfalen". Above that he is also the President of the European Lotteries.

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.