Old Hands Launch in New Market

6 October 2008

As projected in its half-yearly results, Betbull, a retail and online betting operator in which Bwin Interactive Entertainment A.G. holds a 14 percent stake, has received a betting license in the Autonomous Community of Madrid.

"We see the Spanish market as the most promising European opportunity and will concentrate our resources in this jurisdiction," Simon Bold, a director of Betbull, said in a prepared statement today.

Under the license, Betbull, which floated on the Vienna Stock Exchange in September 2004, will be able to offer land-based betting on sports, horseracing and greyhound racing. While company representatives could not be reached by IGamingNews for comment today, it said in late August that it would begin to acquire property for its shops once the license was awarded.

In October 2007, Betbull and Bwin formed a joint venture called Betbull Bwin Espana to run the Madrid shops, though today's release did not specify the number of outlets the two companies intend to open. Spain, it was said in Betbull's first-half results, will constitute its "main focus of development," with the first bet expected to be taken before yearend.

"Other autonomous communities within Spain" -- of which there are 17 -- "have indicated that they will follow Madrid in awarding betting licenses and Betbull intends to pursue development in those regions as soon as the legislation is announced," the company said.

The Betbull Bwin Espana brand will be called "w1nners."

Betbull is not new to the Spanish market, however. In July 2006, the company opened its first shop in Andalucia, the country's southernmost autonomous community that shares a small border with the British colony of Gibraltar. The Andalucia shop, for reference, was launched under Betbull's subsidiary Sellpoint S.L. (not w1nners).

The company also did a 50-50 joint-venture in September 2006 with Grupo Orenes, the Spanish gambling operator, to develop retail betting outlets in Spain as the country's autonomous communities, one by one, liberalize their regulatory regimes.

For its part, Bwin, too, has history in the Spanish market, having landed a three-year sponsorship deal with Real Madrid C.F. in November of last year. In an interview with IGN earlier this year, Kevin O'Neal, a press officer with Bwin, called Spain one of the "more enlightened" European markets with regard to regulation.

Betbull and Bwin follow William Hill (Victoria Apuestas S.A.) and Ladbrokes (Sportium), which secured licensure from Madrid in April 2008. While Ladbrokes and Hills have yet to release financial data on their Madrid operations, as of both companies' interim reports, Ladbrokes had launched 14 outlets and William Hill, 11.

According to a report, "The Spanish Gambling Market," published by the Media & Entertainment Consulting Network, Spain's retail betting market is projected to be worth approximately 4.5 billion euros by 2010.

Betbull began as a joint venture between Bwin -- which traded formerly as betandwin -- and Fun Tehcnologies Inc. The company's core market is Germany. In the first half of 2008, Betbull generated total revenue of 8.6 million euros and a profit of 28,661 euros.

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.