1/24/2012 : Well positioned to take advantage of market opportunities wherever as and when they appear says chief executive
 
Online gambling firm Playtech Limited has given the industry something to chew on with a slew of announcements that include its Q4/2011 results, two joint venture announcements, clarification on its Sciplay joint venture and the announcement of the acquisition of a sports book developer.
 
The company's fourth quarter ending December 31 2011 performed strongly with the Board confident in meeting full year expectations.
 
Key Performance Indicators include:
 
–     Gross income up 79 percent to Euro 78.4 million, (Q4/2010: Euro 43.9 million)
 
–     Total revenues up an impressive 89 percent to Euro 69.6 million, (Q4/2010: Euro 36.9 million) and 13 percent higher than the Euro 61.5 million achieved in Q3/2011.
 
Quarter on Quarter:
 
–     Casino revenues up 13 percent to Euro 32.8 million, (Q3/2011: Euro 28.9 million)
 
–     Poker revenues down 2 percent to Euro 5.5 million, (Q3/2011: Euro 5.6 million)
 
–     Bingo revenues up 9 percent to Euro 4.1 million, (Q3/2011: Euro 3.8 million)
 
–     Services revenues up 18 percent to Euro 23.1 million, (Q3/2011: Euro 19.5 million)
 
–     Videobet up 22 percent to Euro 2.7 million, (Q3/2011: Euro 2.2 million)
 
 
12 months ending 31 December 2011:
 
–     Gross income up 41 percent to Euro 243.6 million, (2010: Euro 173.1 million)
 
–     Total revenues up 46 percent to Euro 207.5 million, (2010: Euro 142.3 million); an increase of 15 percent excluding impact from 2011 acquisitions
 
–     Share of profit from William Hill Online (WHO) up 17 percent to Euro 36.1 million for the full year (2010: Euro 30.8 million), including Euro 8.8 million in Q4/2011
 
–     Cash balances net of credit facility debt at 31 December 2011 in excess of Euro 137.3 million, after 2011 payment of Euro 83.3 million for PTTS, IGS, Mobenga and Ash Gaming.
 
 
Trading update:
 
The company reports a robust start to the year with the first 22 days of January ahead of Q1/2011 by 25 percent in software royalties and 2 percent ahead of the average for Q4/2011.
 
Joint Venture Announcements:
 
–     Playtech has entered in a 49.99 percent joint venture with German land-based gaming operator and owner of the Merkur gaming brand, Gauselmann.
 
      The joint venture has been formed in advance of German regulation and will offer broad-based sports betting and gaming products and services, where permitted.
 
      Gauselmann will retain a technical controlling interest of 50.01 per cent and the partners have agreed to equal board representation.  The expectation is that the joint venture will be a long term relationship.
 
–     A 50:50 partnership with Peermont, a South African casino and resort operator, in anticipation of expected revisions to South African online gaming regulations.
 
      Peermont holds seven casino licenses in South Africa and three in neighbouring Botswana. It operates 14 properties, including its flagship Emperors Palace Resort in Johannesburg, seven other casino resorts and two casinos. In 2010 revenues from its gaming operations totalled SAR 2.7 billion (approx. Euro 260 million).
 
      This joint venture will initially offer sports betting and, later, broad-based gaming on the introduction of new legalization.
 
      Playtech will also benefit from a separate software license agreement to provide online gaming technology and player management systems to the partnership.
 
–     Rumours circulating in the industry this week of trouble in the joint venture between Scientific Games and Playtech seem to have been confirmed with the announcement that the Sciplay joint venture is to be restructured to a simple supplier relationship, allowing for expansion of the scope outside the initial lottery arrangement and on a non-exclusive basis.
 
      A Playtech statement said the restructure "delivers greater flexibility for both parties and more straightforward revenue recognition".
 
 
Acquisition Announcements:
 
Playtech further announced the outright acquisition of UK-based sports book developer Geneity for an initial cash consideration of GBP 11 million, of which GBP 4 million will be held in escrow for 30 months.
 
A further GBP 4 million in cash will be payable subject to certain agreed deliverables by Geniety.
 
Geneity was formed in 2006 and currently provides its sportsbook software to Gala Coral, which is contracted through to the end of 2012, and its lottery software to the Health Lottery. Its other clients include Betfair, Ladbrokes and other UK bookmakers.
 
In the year to 31 March 2011, Geneity had unaudited revenues of GBP 2.3 million and unaudited profits before tax of GBP 0.82 million.
 
Geneity’s sportsbook product will replace Playtech’s existing offering and the company expects to achieve cost savings through the replacement.  It brings a modern, proven, robust and scaleable sports betting platform as well as lottery capabilities to Playtech's suite of gaming products, together with a well-respected team of experienced sportsbook developers with many years of in-depth industry expertise.
 
Playtech has additionally identified opportunities to integrate Geneity products with its recently acquired Mobenga mobile sportsbook platform.
 
 
Going forward the firm has outlined the following past and present operational highlights:
 
–     Integration is commencing, following its acquisition of Ash Gaming last month.
 
–     Paddy Power casino launched at the beginning of October on the Playtech platform and Gala Coral's migration project is underway with completion expected in the middle of this year.
 
–     Mobenga launched with Betchoice and provided Skybet with scorecast betting capabilities.
 
–     Preparation continues for licencees launch in the Spanish and Danish markets.
 
–     Videobet operational development including datacentre capacity and international expansion.
 
–     Have begun initial projects with an outsourcing company in Kiev
 
 
Mor Weizer, chief executive of Playtech commented:
 
"Playtech has again delivered a robust fourth quarter performance. As a result, the Board is very comfortable with market expectations for the year ended 31 December 2011 and looks forward to 2012 with confidence.
 
"Growth from our existing business has created a solid platform for 2012. Taken together with today's other announcements, I believe Playtech is well positioned to take advantage of market opportunities wherever as and when they appear.
 
"It is clear that there is continuing momentum towards regulated gaming in Europe, with Denmark recently launched in regulated form, and both Spain and Belgium due to regulate this year. The US Department of Justice's pre-Christmas guidance has provided further encouragement for those looking to achieve regulation in the US. Playtech is preparing itself for each and every market to help its customers and partners make the most of the changing regulatory landscape and invest into those to certify its products.
 
"Playtech's acquisition of Geneity will enhance its sportsbook capabilities, replacing Playtech's existing offering and providing an important entry point for many operators in newly regulated markets. Taken with the acquisition of Ash Gaming, which we announced in December, we have invested in a substantially enhanced development capability in both product vertical and content areas."
 
On the recently signed joint venture agreements Weizer said: " …these agreements are clear evidence that the strategy we set out in the second half of 2011 is being delivered.