The Isle of Man based online gambling consultancy Global Betting and Gaming Consultants (GBGC) opines that despite declining gambling revenues generally in the current tough economic climate, Internet gambling in Eastern Europe is a good bet, being helped by the roll out of broadband, changes in law and a propensity to gamble among the large population.
Speaking at the recent EiG conference in Barcelona, Tihana Jurican, an analyst with the company said that Eastern European Internet gambling will continue to grow in spite of the global economic downturn, focused on four primary markets – Croatia, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Although each country has less spend per capita than Western Europe she maintained that the three factors of EU membership, expansion of broadband services, and changes to law will propel Internet gambling forward.
The land based industry in three of the four markets is highly competitive, with the higher share in GDP and higher density per capita than most countries when compared to the United Kingdom, where there is a longer tradition of legalised gambling. The only country lagging significantly behind is Poland, where there are still opportunities for growth in the land based sector.
Broadband penetration although behind the EU 25, is expected to grow faster than in Western Europe. Jurican estimated that broadband penetration will reach between 40 percent in Croatia and 65 percent in Poland by 2010 compared to the EU 25 penetration of 70 percent. Broadband penetration’s importance was highlighted by using the example of the United Kingdom, with a strong positive correlation between broadband penetration and online gross gambling revenues over the last few years.
GBGC estimate the online gross gambling revenues in 2007 were between US$ 4 million in Croatia and US$ 13 million in Poland. Strong growth is expected in the online sector in the following five years at an average rate of more than 25 percent in Croatia, more than 40 percent in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and more than 60 percent in Poland.
The company predicts that the Polish online gross gambling revenues will reach more than US$ 120 million in 2012, followed by Slovakia and the Czech Republic at more than US$ 35 million and Croatia at one third of Slovak online gambling revenues (US$ 13 million).