Interviewed by reporters and analysts during the release of Party Gaming's half year results this week, CEO Jim Ryan made some interesting comments about the direction in which his company is headed – the French online poker market and more acquisitions.
Ryan revealed that Party Poker will be active in France shortly after the mamrket is liberated in 2010, and it will be achieved through a business to business (B2B) strategy in order to quickly build up a head of steam. Entering the French market was a logical progression from the company's recent achievements in the Italian market, Ryan commented.
“We have launched our brand in Italy and that of our partner Intralot. We will also be looking to launch in France with a business-to-business partner to achieve scale quickly,” he said. There was no further detail available on who the partner might be, although it was confirmed that talks with potential partners had been ongoing.
Ryan also highlighted an intention to make further acquisitions as the industry consolidates. Party Gaming recently acquired bingo operator Cashcade for GBP71.9 million, and Ryan said there would be more to come as a reportedly $40 million war chest was deployed to acquire new assets in online casinos, poker, bingo, and sports betting markets. It seems likely that a major sportsbvetting company may be the next target, but Ryan would not be drawn further on the question.
He said that the company strategy was to become the industry leader in all Internet gambling verticals; this has been achieved, he felt, in online poker, casino and bingo and sportsbetting was a strong possibility.
888.com's Glolbalcom, which powers recent addition Cashcade, could see a less promising future at least as far as the Spanish, Scandinavian and Italian bingo offerings are concerned; Party Gaming will be looking to grow its own influence directly or through B2B deals: “…we can fund and grow our own brands or carry out B2B deals,” Ryan said.
With its pre-UIGEA slate cleaned in a recent deal with U.S. authorities, Party Gaming was also closely monitoring the American sector for new developments that it could exploit in a commercial sense.
In the results, Party reported that despite a 6.5 percent slide in operating profits (see previous InfoPowa report) casino daily revenues were up 17 percent in recent months. Sixty new games had been launched and a significant marketing drive had been successfully achieved.
Online poker fared less well, with revenues declining 29 percent to GBP15.8 million. Bingo revenues declined 32 percent to GBP1 million after the loss of a contract with ITV resulted in a sharp reduction in player sign-ups, most of which had been generated through the channel's Bingo Night Live show.
"Casino [operations] has been our star performer and continues to go from strength-to-strength, consolidating our position as the world's leading online casino," commented Ryan in his report.
H1 2009 online casino earnings rose 34.8 percent from to GBP22.2 million with average daily revenues increasing 17 percent between the second and first quarters of the year.
PartyGaming’s shares have nearly tripled since November, boosted by a settlement with US prosecutors.
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