Eye on Europe - May 30, 2006

30 May 2006

Birthday Party? -- France's national lottery, La Francaise des Jeux, last week celebrated the 30th anniversary of the launch of its national lottery, its key product. It sounds a little strange though to have such a party considering that an official document of the LFDJ mentions that the "création de la Loterie Nationale" took place in 1933. I speak French fluently, and I can tell you that in plain English, this means "the National Lottery was established in 1933." The "birthday" company had a turnover in 2005 of 8.9 billion euros, a growth of 4.3 percent. The progression is mainly attributable to Euro Millions (representing 77 percent of the growth), which for its first marketing-filled year and with its seven new partners, displayed a turnover of 869 million euros. The Loto is also blooming with a turnover of 1.48 million euros. The two products together displayed a growth of 10.8 percent. Internet products (Loto, Euro Millions, scratch-card games and sports forecasts) had a turnover of 68 million euros (compared to 29 million euros in 2004), and represent only 0.8 percent of the company's overall turnover. France's national lottery, a proud member of the European Lotteries, is in fifth place worldwide in terms of its turnover, which totals 1.4 billion euros and represents 3.8 percent of worldwide lottery sales.

Jerseys 4 Sale -- BetandWin, the main continental European sports betting operator, is known for its creative promotions. For years, the company has advertised on the PanEuropean sports broadcaster, Eurosport, delivering its sports content and betting products in the homes of more than 54 countries and broadcasting in 18 different languages. FOX SPORTS in Europe is also carrying commercials for BetandWin. The group had been negotiating for nearly one and a half years to obtain shirt sponsorship rights for football Champions league winner Barcelona, one of the few remaining top teams with no shirt advertising deal. No such deal has been struck yet with FC Barcelona, but BetandWin has a deal AC Milan.

Mushrooms -- With less than two weeks to go for the start of the biggest sports betting event in the world, new sports betting sites and products are popping up like mushrooms. The latest entry is Oddschecker, England's largest odds comparison site, which will launch a new German language site, oddschecker.de, to cater to World Cup betting fans in the host country. The German launch is first step in Oddschecker's plans to expand overseas. Through the remainder of 2006, the group intends to become fully multilingual and to expand its services to cater to a worldwide audience. Welcome to the crowded club.

Out of Control -- Euro Millions, the European Lotteries' cross-border game, is for sure the worst protected name and brand in the world. Just do the Google search. Above that, one can buy tickets for its rolling jackpot via more than 500 Internet sites that are not members of the European Lotteries. Further, the well organized members of the EL monopolists--and the state sports betting and lotteries--do not give any transparency and/or any information (via their Web site for instance) on the financial results of the cross-border EL lottery. Should be food for top gambling lawyers. The participants in Euro Millions are: Österreichische Lotterien (Austria), La Loterie Nationale (Belgium). La Française des Jeux (France), An Post National Lottery Company (Ireland), La Loterie Nationale (Luxembourg), Jogos Santa Casa (Portugal), Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (Spain), Loterie Romande & Swisslos (Switzerland) and Camelot (U.K.).

Plan D -- In the April 28, 2006 edition of this column, I wrote about the Finnish gambling monopoly's "Plan B" in its battle to preserve its national gambling policy. (See "Eye on Europe - April 28, 2006" for more on this.) Finland finds itself amid infringement proceedings in which it most prove that its gambling laws are consistent with EU policy, and the process can be drawn out for long periods of time--maybe even years.

Last week we were informed that "the EU has given Finland more time to prepare a report explaining the state monopoly on gambling. The deadline was pushed back from early summer to autumn, following claims of discrepancies in the Finnish and Swedish language versions of the EU request." Plan D is working.

D, by the way, stands for "delaying!"

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.