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Poker Business News From Europe

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jan 01, 2010


Greek Poker Tax Suspended
A proposed tax on gaming winnings in Greece has been suspended.

Earlier this year we reported that all Greek gambling winnings, including poker, would be subject to a 10 percent tax from September 21. However, this has been suspended for the time being and will now be discussed further.

With this move, the Ministry of Economy and Finances faced strong opposition from the business community, and also sales agents of the country’s betting monopoly OPAP.

The Greek government is said to be also considering offering online sports betting.

Bodog Opens London Press Office
Bodog is further expanding with its new press office which is now open on Tottenham Court Road in London.

Bodog founder Calvin Ayre said, “London is the business centre of the gaming industry and so it makes sense to position our global press office there. Equally this way we can now look to provide the media with one point of contact for all inquiries about the Bodog brand. I would also like to stress the new office’s close proximity to Spearmint Rhino is nothing more than a happy coincidence!”

The office will be run by former European head of public relations at Everest, Ed Pownall, as he takes his new role of Global Public Relations Director at Bodog.

Pownall’s background features his involvement in the launch of Blue Square, and also the launch of The Rank Group’s online bingo and casino sectors, plus former employment at SkyBet and

Pownall said, “From PR perspective working for Bodog represents a huge challenge but also an unrestricted creativity few other companies can offer. On a personal level the brand stands for entertainment at every level of the business – both internally and customer facing – and I am excited about the ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude the company has built itself on.”

PartyGaming Completes World Poker Tour Buyout
November saw PartyGaming complete the takeover of the World Poker Tour brand for $12.3 million, having earlier gazumped Gamynia’s original bid of $9.1 million and fought off a late bid from Mandalay Media.
PartyGaming and WPT
Jim Ryan, chief executive officer of PartyGaming, said of the takeover, “This deal brings together two of the biggest brands in online and offline poker – and World Poker Tour – that we will market internationally to build our poker business.

Our plans also include using the ClubWPT subscription platform to leverage our 12 million-strong US player database via a Party-branded website and the launch of a European WPT-branded poker and casino site. We are excited about the opportunities that WPT, a proven marketing channel for the Group, will create for PartyGaming, particularly if the U.S. regulates and licenses online gaming.”

The deal sees PartyGaming pick up the World Poker Tour brand including the rights to a number of land-based events in the US and Europe as well as an extensive library of more than 150 hours of poker programming that is broadcast in more than 150 countries
It also now owns the ClubWPT subscription poker offering which has more than 16,500 paying subscribers in 37 U.S. states.

Virgin Takes on Italian Online Poker Market
The chief executive of Virgin games, Simon Burridge, recently spoke about the UK-based group’s plan to take a five percent share of Italy’s online poker market within its first year.

Virgin’s online poker saw a soft launch in September with a revenue-sharing partnership with Cogetech. Burridge said, “We are ‘white labeling’ it on the back of Cogetech. It is a lot less expensive. Cogetech does [player] registration and the banking. For Virgin it is just a marketing operation and that is what it does best.”
Since its launch, it has accumulated 8,000 players and aims to take a nice chunk of the Italian market for itself by December while keeping operational costs down via its partnership with the Italian online poker operator.

Burridge added, “After six weeks we are on target to take five percent of the market after 12 months. The market is €200 million. So by December we are looking to be €10 million. We are looking to break-even in five or six months.”

Online poker in Italy has gone from strength to strength since its regulation last year. Many companies set their sights on the market, such as PokerStars and Playtech. Virgin Games is now carving out its own share of the pie.

Poland to Ban Online Poker
Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said that legislation is being drafted with the intent of banning gambling outside casinos as well as Internet gambling and advertising for games of chance.

The legislation will also aim to introduce state concessions for casinos, as well as higher gambling taxes. It will be illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to gamble also.

In November, Tusk let many key ministers and political allies go due to concerns over influential behaviour regarding this new legislation. He now intends on having the new legislation drafted by early December.

Entraction Poker Growth Remains Strong
Publicly-quoted Swedish poker network, Entraction, home to online poker rooms such as, has announced its interim report for the third quarter of 2009.
Net sales for poker for the year-to-date (end Sept. 2009) amounted to SEK 229.3 million (€22.1 million). This is an increase of 36 percent from SEK 168.7 million for the same period last year.

The report stated, “Despite poker sales being adversely affected by seasonal variations in the third quarter, the figure was considerably higher than the previous year. The increase is largely due to existing partners increasing sales from new markets. Spanish sales virtually tripled, while Russian sales doubled, for example.”

Gaming surplus from poker was SEK 101.7 million (€9.8 million) for the third quarter 2009, compared to SEK 80.4 million for the third quarter 2008. For the year-to-date the gaming surplus is reported to be SEK 328.8 million, compared to SEK 227 million for the same period last year.

Other reasons given for the growth in poker include the expansion of the network’s tournament offering resulting in a 33 percent rise in tournament revenue quarter-on-quarter, and the introduction of Five-Card Omaha which is only available on Entraction’s network.

Entraction, which also offers partners software for betting, casino, and bingo, reported total sales for the third quarter of SEK 98.8 million which is a 15 percent increase from the SEK 86.2 million reported for the third quarter of 2008. Operating profit was also up 19 percent from SEK 10.7 million to SEK 12.6 million quarter-on-quarter.

Net sales for the year-to-date came to SEK 326.7 million, which is an overall increase of 34 percent from the SEK 243.3 million for the same period last year. This increase is said to be mostly due to a rise in poker gaming, while the company has seen a decline in casino.

Looking forward, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Åström, said, “As a strong supplier in the poker sector, we have been particularly favoured by legal developments. In 2010, Italy will introduce licences for cash games, with France and several other European countries likely to follow suit. We are also engaged in talks with potential partners in the USA to ensure we are in position when the poker market is legalised in areas such as California.”