Vienna listed online betting group Bwin has reported record Q1 2008 gross gaming revenues of Euro 104.6 million – a growth of 21.3 percent over the same period last year, when Euro 86.2 million was achieved. Sports betting was particularly productive, with gross gaming revenues soaring 27.4 percent to Euro 60.6 million and a margin of 8.7 percent. After tax numbers were Euro 11.0 million (Q1 2007: EUR 9.9 million)
In Q1 2008 Bwin continued to produce profitable growth, reporting an adjusted EBITDA margin of 28.1 percent with record net gaming revenues. Net gaming revenues were up 17.5 percent to Euro 91.9 million, and active and new active player activity was up respectively 19.5 percent to 925 000 players, and 27.9 percent to 254 000 new active players.
Net gaming revenues of Euro 99.3 per active customer were virtually unchanged in Q1 2008 compared with the same period the previous year.
Gross earnings reported from the casino and games sectors amounted to Euro 16.4 million (Q1 2007: EUR 16.1 million) and Euro 4.8 million (Q1 2007: EUR 3.1 million) respectively. This represented increases of 2.9 percent for casino and 53.3 percent for games compared to Q1 2007.
Other revenues in Q1 2008 totalled Euro 10.6 million (Q1 2007: Euro 8.9 million). This amount included revenues from the sale of rights to the first and second German Soccer Leagues in the amount of Euro 5.7 million (Q1 2007: Euro 5.2 million). Fees charged to customers rose to Euro 2.3 million (Q1 2007: Euro 1.7 million), and where therefore directly proportional to the significant growth in the volume of turnover. In the quarter under review bwin reported own work capitalized (e.g. in-house software) in the amount of Euro 1.8 million (Q1 2007: Euro 1.0 million) and Euro 0.8 million (Q1 2007: Euro 1.0 million) in other revenues.
Marketing expenses increased 15 percent to Euro 28.4 million compared with Q1 2007, but down by 14.2 percent on the previous Q4 2007. The directors noted that there may be an increase in the level of marketing expenses (including customer bonuses) in the current quarter due to communication opportunities around the European Football Championship in Austria and Switzerland during June.
Thanks to b'inside, the newly launched customer loyalty programme, Bwin anticipates an improvement in the sustainability of new customers won during the EURO championship compared to the world championship in the year 2006.
Customers benefitted from bonuses totalling Euro 9.5 million in the quarter – significantly up in Q1 2008 compared to the previous year's Q1 figure of Euro 5.5 million. Marketing expenses (including bonuses) per new active customer (CPA) amounted to Euro 149.0 in Q1 2008, slightly up on the same period the previous year.
Staff employed as of the reporting date 31 March 2008 was 1 226 employees (including 61 freelance staff) – an increase of 28.5 percent compared to the previous year (954 employees including 71 freelance staff).
Frequently in the front lines boldly challenging state monopolies, the company spent Euro 6 million on legal, auditing and consulting expenses over the quarter. This amount included legal consulting expenses of Euro 1.8 million.
In an apparently passing reference to its moves to introduce its own internal payments solution, the company noted that despite a significant increase in the volume of turnover, banking expenses could be reduced to Euro 6.5 million in Q1 2008 due to the growing availability of "internal settlement and servicing systems."
Addressing the current legislative and legal climate in Europe, Bwin said that to an increasing extent in the future, the development of the European online gaming industry will continue to be determined by judgements at a European level.
"In the wake of the judgements in the cases of Gambelli and Placanica, last year several national courts also submitted questions on the conformity of their gaming regulations with EU legalization to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). These include two preliminary ruling procedures from Portugal to which Bwin is a party.
"A judgement in the first proceedings is expected in the spring of 2009. Several German courts and a Belgian one have also applied to the ECJ for an interpretation of their national regulations. Only recently, an Austrian court also turned to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling.
"Furthermore, since April 2006, the [European] Commission has already instituted infringement proceedings against ten member states because it is of the opinion that these states infringe European law with their national gaming regulations. These proceedings against France, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Greece and Holland have already gone to the second instance.
"At a national level, Bwin recently won a case brought by the French Tennis Federation (FFT). The FFT’s action was rejected in its entirety by a court of first instance in Belgium. In the reasons given for its judgement, the court particularly emphasized the extensive protection of minors provided by Bwin and the Company’s membership of the European Sports Security Association (ESSA), which has been particularly successful in the prevention of fraud in sports."
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