French Casino Operator Turns to Interactive Technology

9 March 2006

Groupe Partouche, France's largest casino operator, has lately undertaken a number of measures in an effort to build stronger interactive offerings. The company has launched a mobile casino partnership in the UK with Probability Games Corporation, has requested a gaming license in Gibraltar, and has appointed a new chairman to develop the business of Partouche Interactive. Although its name is certainly well-known and established in France, the company will not be able to offer interactive gambling services to French residents due to the country's monopolistic licensing regime.

Partouche is turning to new technologies at a time when the French gaming market seems to be leveling off. The company's turnover for the year 2005 increased just .8 percent over the previous year to reach 456 million euros, while gross gaming revenues improved by 2.1 percent to reach 771.3 million euros.

"The market has become mature and growth is no longer exponential," stated Patrick Partouche, chairman of Groupe Partouche. "The competition is up front and we are faced with unfavorable economic circumstances."

In early February Groupe Partouche became a minority shareholder in Cash TV, which is an interactive scratch cards and lucky numbers games channel on Canal Satellite, a French digital television platform with hundreds of channels and interactive services. Groupe Partouche has also picked up a stake in, a French company that provides computer game contents for telecom operators.

The company also announced last month that it has partnered with Probability Games Corporation, a British designer and operator of mobile games, to offer mobile casino gaming in the UK market. The mobile casino is already running with Java versions of roulette, videopoker, bingo, blackjack, hi-lo, nudge 7 and fortune teller.

French newspaper La Tribune reports that Partouche has also applied for an online gaming license in Gibraltar, and that the company's project that would utilize such a license would create 300 jobs.

The activities of Groupe Partouche's television, telecom and new technology businesses will fall under the responsibility of Partouche Interactive, of which Frederic Vinzia has recently been appointed executive chairman. Vinzia resume' includes ten years of work for Generale des Eaux's subsidiary Generale d'Images, for whom he launched theme-based cable and satellite channels Planete, Cine', Cinemas, and Canal Jimmy. Vinzia also worked for 12 years as managing director of music channel MCM. Since 2001 Vinzia has served as head of international business development for Canal + publishing.

Vinzia will now be responsible for managing Groupe Partouche's investments in Cash TV and in addition to production company Sogimage and portal e-Partouche.

Because of France's monopolistic licensing structure, however, Groupe Partouche will have to block French residents from accessing its gaming offerings.

La Tribune reports that Patrick Partouche has not ruled out challenging the monopoly system by submitting a complaint to the European Court of Justice.