Eye on Europe - March 2, 2007

2 March 2007

The Other Side of the Table -- IGN reported on Feb. 15, 2007 that online gambling software supplier CryptoLogic had announced that it signed a three-year contract to provide poker and casino software for Holland Casino. At the time, we could not get a reaction from Holland Casino, but Carla Krulof Holland Casino has since responded: "This was a press release just by CryptoLogic, only. There was no press release issued by Holland Casino. And, yes, the press information concerns the HC Internet casino. Legislation to allow a three-year trial was passed by the lower house in 2006. Currently we are awaiting the consent of the upper house. The upper house postponed a decision pending recent Dutch elections for a new lower house i.e. government. At the moment we have no specific information as to when the subject will go thru the upper house. But expectations are that this will be shortly after the new upper house will be installed as a result of the provincial elections early March."

Silence -- bwin, the Austrian Pan European sports operator, has been relatively silent for months. The last official news from the company came Sept. 19, 2006, the day that co-CEOs Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger were released on bail in France.* The detailed results for the fourth quarter and for the financial year 2006 will be presented on April 19. The company's marketing budget, mainly sports sponsoring and TV advertising, has been decreased to 40 million euros, down from 64 million euros in 2006.

Record Sales -- The Slovakian national lottery, Tipos, reports record sales of over Sk5 billion (US$91.6 million) for 2006. The data has been published in the Obchodný vestník, the Commercial Bulletin. Tipos has been classified as a joint stock company with a single shareholder, the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic. The company started its activities on Jan. 1, 1993.

Higher Earnings -- Tipp24 Group of Germany is reporting higher-than-expected earnings for 2006. The company increased its number of customers considerably to about 1.8 million (compared to 1.3 million in 2005). The transaction volume--essentially lottery tickets that are sold--climbed to 264.2 euros, up from 204.7 million in 2005--a 29.1 percent increase. Sales generated amounted to 34.6, up from 26.1 million--a 32.6 percent increase--which was within the forecast growth range. The management board of Tipp24 AG has decided to implement a share buyback program, to buy its own shares back, through Nov. 18, 2007.

Another Example -- The European Lotteries (EL) has for years supported a policy through which members respect each other's territories, yet EL member Svenska Spel says it will invest 15 million euros over the next five years in a joint venture to that will offer Internet lotteries in Lithuania. Its local partner, Olifeja, is also a member of the EL. So the project is just one more example of activities among EL members that are not consistent with the philosophies of the association.

*Editor's Note: bwin today released a statement regarding its dealings in Turkey.

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.