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21 March 2011

PartyGaming, Casino, Sports Betting, Bingo up, by Greg Tingle

PartyGaming is on a financial and innovation role, impressing players, the stock market, partners such as Bwin, and media associates including yours truly - Media Man.

The London Stock Exchange listing igaming firm posted final results before it merges with Bwin on 31 March.

It needs to be noted that the world's leading igaming company is in good shares with its online casino, bingo and sports betting arms all up and popular with players and partners.

Developing regulated markets remains a prime strategic focus of PartyGaming, and news media opportunities such as televised events, media portal deals and even stadium or venue naming rights are all understood to be of considerable interest to the firm.

Party's across the board revenue was up 15% to €357m with EBITDA up 7% on 2009, just overtaking the €100m mark. Online casino revenue rose €15m from €136.8m in 2009 to €151.4m last year, understood to be driven forward by its 'The Games Studio' slot game offerings; online bingo was up €29m from €22.8m to €51.4m with both arts getting positive spin off via its Cashcade acquisition back in 2009, not to mention its international expansion across Europe; while its modest sports wagering arm was up €7m from €13.2m to €20.8m. Online poker revenues are down, dipping €11m from €136.8m in 2009 to €124.8m last year. It's PartyPoker and World Poker Tour brands are expected to bounce back as news media and website portal - b2b deals develop in the coming months.

Party's World Poker Tour brand brought home €6.5m, while its B2B network services customers generated in the region of €2.4m. Taking a look at its social media, the WPT's Facebook app is Facebook’s fourth largest poker application, according to Party, and its WPT Hold ‘em III mobile poker application has been generated 16m million downloads, which is big in anyones language. Little wonder established company brands such as Media Man, Virgin, Google, News Limited, Fairfax Media, UFC and WWE keep pushing forward with the social media strategy, since that's where many punters and potential customers are located.

Journey across to France. The bottom line is looking good. Second half pre-tax revenue for 2010 is up 220% and post-tax revenue up 77%. PartyGaming continues to be placed in #3 slot in the .coms poker sector.

Party at present holds a 14% market share in France. Experts forecast the Bwin merger will see this double.

With its online casino arm, Party advised of its 10 best revenue generating slots were developed in-house. Sinatra, The Godfather, Rambo, Saturday Night Fever, Top Gun and Mission: Impossible are in the mix of their most popular and profitable. It's 4 Marvel Entertainment branded slots were not developed in-house, but also remain very popular, and some new 3D themed slots are in the works via b2b2 following the success of Heist. It's classic bread and butter slots via the likes of WagerWorks (Cleopatra, Wheel Of Fortune, Monopoly and Cluedo) also continue to bring home the bacon for the company, and remain favs for players.

PartyGaming advised the merger with Bwin is well on track to finalise by the conclusion of this month and that this year would present great opportunities in newly regulated US and European markets. Australia and New Zealand also remain of great interest, where the company already enjoys a solid player base.

Party’s chief exec advised the company had achieved its 2010 objectives growing its player base by a solid 16% over the previous year catapulted primarily by its acquisition of Cashcade and its expansion into newly regulated markets that traditionally increase player volumes. The new markets also get the word out to the masses as PartyGaming can push the message via advertising without any legal consequences, be it .com or .net. CEO Jim Ryan warmly welcomed more regulation and advised the firm was in a strong position to make the most of new markets including Spain, Greece, Denmark and the United States when it opens. Canada continues to perform very well for the company, but they keep the Canadian numbers closely under wraps.

Ryan noted he expected New Jersey governor Chris Christie to veto the state’s egaming bill, but that this "wouldn't be bad news" as several other US states were building strong momentum to regulate online gambling.

"UIGEA has failed, the market already exists and the market has grown since it was enforced. Legislation is being driven by US companies who are tired of seeing revenues flow offshore. Combine this with the need to generate tax revenue and create jobs and this will create the perfect storm. The passage of online gambling laws will happen at some point soon."

Media Man advised that Party and a range of other igaming companies remain in close contact with a number of leading Australian and New Zealand media companies and brands, and that the Australian print, online publishing and television sector remains extremely interested in exploring b2b with Party, having become aware of Party's success with leading website portals that are available in the region, plus the popularity of Hollywood brands down under like Marvel Entertainment and Paramount Pictures.

Media moguls with strong ties to Australia such as James Packer, mate Lachlan Murdoch, and News Corp old guard, Rupert Murdoch, were all aware of Party's success in the Asia Pacific, pushed along by internet commerce, and are open to exploring business possibilities with the Gibraltar igaming powerhouse.

The website remains the most popular of the Party branded gaming sites.

By The Numbers

Overall revenue up 15% to €357m

Casino revenue up €15m from €136.8m to €151.4m

Bingo up €29m from €22.8m to €51.4m

Sports betting up €7m from €13.2m to €20.8m

Poker down €11m from €136.8m to €124.8m

World Poker Tour contributes €6.5m

B2B network services customers generate €2.4m

Media Man, Casino News Media and Global Gaming Directory do have a b2b relationship with PartyGaming, as they do with dozens of other companies in the gaming, igaming, media and entertainment industry.


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