Eye on Europe - Sept. 1, 2006

1 September 2006

Forbidden T-Shirt -- Police stopped a jogger in Dortmund, Germany last week for wearing a bwint-shirt. The officer informed the sweating long distance runner that he should take off his forbidden shirt. The jogger argued that there was still something like freedom of speech in Germany and that he could get sick when he was running without a shirt. After some discussions the officer stated that this time he would turn a blind eye, but that if he sees him again in the bwin shirt, he would fine him. Once again, more food for lawyers. . . .

Only 7! -- An estimated 13.9 million households (57 percent) in Great Britain could access the Internet from home between January and April 2006, according to the National Statistics Omnibus Survey. This is an increase of 2.9 million households (26 percent) since 2002, and 0.6 million (5 percent) over the last year. The survey has been expanded this year to include Northern Ireland, and for the United Kingdom, the total number of households with Internet access in 2006 was 14.3 million. In total, 40 percent of U.K. households were estimated to have broadband Internet access between January and April. This was an increase from the 28 percent recorded for Great Britain in October 2005.

Internet purchases by U.K. Adults (by Percentage) in the Last 12 Months:
Films, music: 53
Travel or holiday accommodation: 51
Books/magazines/newspapers/e-learning material: 37
Clothes, sports goods: 37
Tickets for events: 35
Computer software and upgrades (including video games) 29
Electronic equipment (including cameras): 25
Household goods (e.g. furniture, toys etc.): 24
Share purchases/financial services/insurance: 24
Computer hardware: 22
Food/groceries: 20
Other: 11
Lotteries or betting: 7

Internet Poker a Big Hit -- Svenska Spel's Internet poker site has been a great success since its introduction in April 2006. A total of 65,000 players have registered on the site, wagering more than $280 million in the first three months of operation. Svenska Spel has generated a profit of $7.2 million from Internet poker during this period. The success has enabled the Swedish National Lottery to recapture a sizable share of the remote gambling market from private operators. Svenska Spel, wholly owned by the Swedish state, has the largest Swedish gambling market share with 55 percent and recorded annual turnover of $2.8 billion in 2005. The lottery currently holds an estimated 22 percent of the Swedish Internet poker market, and expects to reach 25 percent by the end of 2006. Overall, Svenska Spel (excluding Casino Cosmopol) recorded gross sales of $1.29 billion for the first six months of 2006, down 1.4 percent from the first six months of 2005 (thanks to the ban on smoking). Svenska Spel has 20 different games on the Internet via its proprietary platform for number games, sports betting (such as Oddset), scratch cards, bingo (multi-play and single games) and six different probability games under the name "Pick 'n' Click." Oddset was the first to go interactive with the launch of its mobile betting services in 2003, followed by bingo and the scratch-cards "Triss" and "Tia."

Politicians Make It Difficult -- Vodafone in 2005 acquired Telsim, the No. 2 mobile operator in Turkey, which has Europe's second largest population (72 million people). The Turkish market represents a major growth opportunity for Vodafone, and an important component was established last week when the British GSM company took over Telsim (a separate company from Turkish Telsim) in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Northern Cyprus has a lively sports betting scene and over 20 casinos. They can use some new infrastructure, so the deal is good news for the Internet betting operators in the TRNC. Turkey is the only state that recognizes the TRNC. Above that Northern Cyprus is blockaded by the EU countries. Vodafone is now present on both parts of the holiday destination. At the moment, one cannot phone directly from TRNC to South Cyprus and vice versa. And since Vodafone is now active on both parts of the island, the operators in the south hope that a direct telephone link will be established soon. That would be good for the betting operators in the South. Technique is not the problem; the politicians are making it difficult.

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.