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03 July 2011

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment To Sell Ongame; Bwin.Party Gets New Games And Promotions, by Greg Tingle - 1st July 2011

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PartyCasino, PartyPoker And Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment News

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment To Sell Ongame

The world’s largest listed online gambling operator, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, has begun the formal process of selling its Ongame Network Limited business-to-business subsidiary with completion expected before the end of the year.
Gibraltar-based Bwin.Party was born in late-March following the union of online betting and gaming provider Bwin Interactive Entertainment with PartyGaming and declared that the sale of Ongame was part of the ongoing integration process.
“One area of our stated strategy was to recycle surplus assets,” read a statement from Bwin.Party.

“As part of this process, and having taken some initial soundings from interested parties, we have commenced a formal process to sell Ongame’s business-to-business operation that is one of the world's leading online poker networks with a state-of-the-art technology platform.

“Since the completion of the merger that took place on March 31, we continue to make progress on implementing the plans that we had prepared prior to completion. As a result, we remain on-track to deliver the full €55 million of annualised synergies by 2013 as previously announced.”

Bwin.Party also revealed in a pre-close trading update that its business was trading in-line with management expectations ‘although sports margins have been lower than expected due to a favourable run of events for customers in May’.

“The improvement in new player sign-ups in poker following action taken by the US authorities against certain of the group's online poker competitors on April 15 has not had a material impact on poker revenues as new players represent just a small proportion of the overall player base and these companies have so far continued to command significant market share in non-US markets,” read the statement from Bwin.Party.

“Casino continues to perform well while bingo has been slightly softer than expected in the period.”

Finally, Bwin.Party stated that its board of directors has adopted a ‘progressive dividend policy’ that is set to start with a payment of €30 million for the year to the end of December while its share buy-back programme, which will remain in place for one year, currently has access to €75 million from existing cash resources.


Frank Miller's Sin City Comes To The World's Largest Online Casino


Casino News Media: Frank Miller's Sin City Comes To The World's Largest Online Casino

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Gibraltar - 17th June 2011 - Following up on last week’s release of Frank Miller’s Sin City: The Hard Goodbye at Digital DarkHorse comes more exciting news around this legendary title. Sin City has now entered the online gaming world, with a new game at PartyCasino.com This new five-reel, fifty-line slot features art and story from the widely acclaimed series by comics legend Frank Miller.

When Sin City originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents: Fifth Anniversary Special in April 1991, it was clear that the face of the comics medium had changed forever. Since that time, Miller’s groundbreaking comics noir has found its way into the public consciousness with toys, games, and even a feature-length motion picture. Frank Miller’s Sin City remains one of the most stylized works in the history of the medium, drawing heavily from film noir, including its use of shadow and stark backgrounds. The black-and-white comic was perfectly suited to the original format of Dark Horse’s flagship anthology, with occasional spot usage of primary colors added to later volumes and editions.

"Frank Miller’s Sin City is a very different slot to any other we have launched in recent times. The striking artwork and mature content mean this isn’t a game for the faint hearted," said a spokesman for PartyCasino.com

There are five featured games, which win the player free spins and multipliers: “Straight to Hell,” “The Hard Goodbye,” “He Never Screams,” “Deadly Little Miho,” and “Just Get Warmed Up.” The games feature the series’ main characters: Hartigan, Nancy, Miho, Marv, Kevin, the Yellow B*stard, and Dwight. The game includes mature content and scenes of violence, nudity, and depravation.

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About Dark Horse Comics

Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator-friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Gerard Way, and comics legend Will Eisner, Dark Horse has developed such successful characters as the Mask, Timecop, and SpyBoy. Additionally, its highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan, Emily the Strange, Tim Burton, Trigun, Serenity, and Domo. Today Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent comic-book publisher in the US and is recognized as one of the world’s leading publishers of licensed comics material.

SIN CITY, FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY and all characters therein and all depictions thereof are trademarks of Frank Miller, Inc. All Rights Reserved. ©2011 Frank Miller, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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In the meantime PartyCasino.com continues to roll out new games and initiatives.

The most popular PartyCasino.com games of late include Sin City, Unicorn Legend, Heist, Circus, Rambo, Palladium Slot, The Godfather, Sinatra, Slotbox, Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Mission: Impossible, The Terminator, Cleopatra, Sinatra, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, Monopoly, Resident Evil, Melon Madness, Wheel Of Fortune and Mega Fortune Wheel.

The PartyCasino.com jackpot is currently approaching the $4 million mark. Players can also compete for The Big One and Marvel Hero Jackpot, playing the Marvel super hero themed online slot games.

PartyCasino's most recent game releases include Sin City, The Sting, Unicorn Legend, Shaaark! SuperBet, Crocodopolis, Alice's Wonderland, Glamour Puss, Super Cubes, Heist, Palladium Slot and Circus Slot.

PartyGaming CEO Jim Ryan has gone on record advising PartyCasino will soon feature more Hollywood blockbuster themed slots. A few in the know journalists and media agents have been recently tipped off that an all time classic movie adaption will be showcased in the PartyCasino portfolio within 1 month. PartyCasino has the world's most impressive line up of Hollywood themed games, and more are just around the corner.

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

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There's Never Been A Better Time to Play at PartyPoker

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See PartyPoker.com for more information.

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A PartyPoker.com spokesman said: "The premise is simple – divide and conquer! Rome wasn't built in a day but it could be won in an hour! Turn your PartyPoints into cities - the empire building continues until the 31st August or until all cities are conquered. There are 72 cities to conquer and freeroll seats, cash payouts and a top prize of $100,000. Just earn 10 PartyPoints to be randomly awarded a city from 72 available."

"Many of the cities have cash prizes and freeroll seats attached The big money comes in when you can complete all the cities in an entire continent, for example, getting all of Asia wins you $5,000 and Europe will bag you $20,000. Finally, a player who gets every single country has world domination – worth a cool $100,000."

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For more information see: PartyPoker.com


Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Confirms Ongame Poker Network Deal Possibilities

The Ongame poker network is "likely" to be sold, bwin.party has confirmed that a formal process to sell the B2B network is on the way.

The announcement was made earlier today ahead of today’s Annual General Meeting, the first held by the giant since the merger between Bwin and PartyGaming was completed last March.

The statement read "One area of our stated strategy was to recycle surplus assets,"..."We expect that any sale will be completed by the end of the year."

No licensee on the network has yet responded to bwin.party’s announcement, although Betfair’s outgoing CEO David Yu passed opinion on Ongame just yesterday.

Bwin.Party’s AGM statement contains details of a planned share buyback, which will see the company follow the examples of Playtech and Betfair in making such a move, plus news of a progressive dividend policy containing a €30m dividend payout for the year ending 31 December 2011.

As we go to press trading is described as “Broadly in-line with management's expectations,” however analyst James Hollins, of Evolution Securities, advised in a memo earlier today that “The stock remains a Neutral ahead of potentially disruptive German legislation near-term.”

Meanwhile Simon French, of Panmure Gordon, reiterated his firm’s ‘buy’ recommendation, explaining “[We] expect the shares to respond well to the dividend and share buyback news.”

German sports betting proposals in April had seen the share price of bwin.party dive 16% in a day, and a decision on the country’s State Gambling Treaty is expected in October.

Yesterday things turned around following the suspension of Full Tilt Poker’s licences in Alderney - the share price ended the day at 148.2p, an increase of more than 10% day-on-day.


Bwin.Party In Line With Management's Expectations

bwin.party digital entertainment's trading performance since the beginning of April has been broadly in line with management's expectations.

But is says sports margins have been lower than expected due to a favourable run of events for customers in May.

The improvement in new player sign-ups in poker, following action taken by the US authorities against certain of the group's online poker competitors on 15 April, has not had a material impact on poker revenue as new players represent just a small proportion of the overall player base and these companies have so far continued to command significant market share in non-US markets.

Casino continues to perform well while bingo has been slightly softer than expected in the period.

At 8:47am: (LON:BPTY) share price was +0.5p at 148.7p.


Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Big On Security

The online gaming business PartyGaming has also long since been protecting its players with strong authentication. After all, there is a lot of money at stake – money that the dark forces may want to siphon away. PartyPoker, PartyCasino, PartyBingo and PartyGammon customers register by downloading the PartyGaming customer software. After registration, they can obtain an authenticator called PartySecure from the online store. This is again a Digipass Go 6 that has been completely adapted to the branding of PartyGaming. Here again, a Vacman Controller Server takes over the authentication. “The solution is highly scalable,” stressed a PartyGaming spokesperson. “It can grow with us and effortlessly cope with the growing number of online-players on our platform.”


bwin.party digital - AGM Statement - 30th June 2011


AGM Statement

Pre-close Trading update and Distribution Policy


Highlights

Ø Current trading broadly in-line with management's expectations

Ø Board has adopted a progressive dividend policy commencing with a dividend of €30m for the year ended 31 December 2011

Ø Share buy-back programme of up to €75m from existing cash resources

Ø Integration on-track to deliver €55m of annualised synergies by 2013

Ø Ongame B2B network to be sold


At the Company's AGM to be held in Gibraltar later today, the Board of bwin.party will be issuing the following statement to shareholders.


Trading and Regulation update

The Group's trading performance since the beginning of April 2011 has been broadly in-line with management's expectations, although sports margins have been lower than expected due to a favourable run of events for customers in May. The improvement in new player sign-ups in poker, following action taken by the US authorities against certain of the Group's online poker competitors on 15 April 2011, has not had a material impact on poker revenue as new players represent just a small proportion of the overall player base and these companies have so far continued to command significant market share in non-US markets. Casino (Paris: FR0000125585 - news) continues to perform well while bingo has been slightly softer than expected in the period.

The pace of regulatory change shows no signs of slowing down as governments around the world embrace the market reality that online gaming is an increasingly popular form of entertainment for adults. Recent developments include in Italy, where cash game poker and casino games are expected to become licensed next month, and in Spain where the proposed regulatory framework is expected to include all products. In Germany, Schleswig-Holstein's proposal to regulate and license all forms of online gaming has been approved by the European Commission and this legislation is now being considered by the State Parliament. An alternative proposal, as put forward by the other 15 Länder, has yet to receive approval from the European Commission.

In the United States there have been a number of fresh efforts to regulate internet poker at both a federal and state level, driven by US consumers' desire to continue to play games online following the enforcement action taken by the Department of Justice in April 2011 and also by widespread support for regulation by the land-based industry. The Group is encouraged by these efforts.


Integration update

Since the completion of the merger that took place on 31 March 2011, we continue to make progress on implementing the plans that we had prepared prior to completion. As a result, we remain on-track to deliver the full €55 million of annualised synergies by 2013 as previously announced.


Sale of Ongame B2B

One area of our stated strategy was to recycle surplus assets. As part of this process and having taken some initial soundings from interested parties, we have commenced a formal process to sell Ongame's Business-to-Business operation that is one of the world's leading online poker networks with a state-of-the-art technology platform. We expect that any sale will be completed by the end of the year.


Distribution Policy

Following the announcement on 15 April 2011, the Board has undertaken a comprehensive review of its capital and distribution policy. This review considered the investment needs of the business over the next few years given the expected changes to the Group's operating environment, together with the Group's significant net cash position, strong cashflow characteristics and long-term earnings potential.


Taking these factors into account, the Board is pleased to announce that it will:


Ø Commence a dividend at the half year results to be announced on 31 August 2011; and


Ø Implement a share buyback programme, subject to market conditions and shareholder approval at today's AGM, of up to €75m. This programme will remain in place for one year and all shares purchased under the programme will be cancelled.


In relation to the dividend the Directors have adopted a progressive dividend policy whilst maintaining an appropriate level of dividend cover, as measured against the Group's free cashflow. This policy reflects the strong cashflow characteristics and long-term earnings potential of the Group whilst retaining sufficient resources to fund ongoing operating requirements and continued investment for long-term growth.


For the year ended 31 December 2011, the Directors intend to pay out €15m as an interim dividend payable in October 2011 and €15m as a final dividend payable in May 2012. Thereafter, the Directors intend to target a payout ratio of no less than 30% of normalised annual free cashflow with the interim dividend representing approximately half of the total annual dividend.


Poll Results

The full results of the poll votes regarding the 16 resolutions to be put to the meeting, of which two resolutions (15 and 16) are special resolutions, will be announced later today.

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