Friday August 23,2013 : SPORTECH EYES NEW JERSEY FOR ONLINE GAMBLING
US action could revitalise company's struggling online gambling activities
The Sportech gambling group's struggling Playtech-powered e-gaming division could be given a new lease of life if the company is able to enter the legalised New Jersey online gambling market in November this year, an area in which it appears to share competitive ambitions with a number of other international online gambling firms.
The company's online gambling results posted earlier this week reflected a first-half decline in earnings, which slid from a profit of GBP 700,000 in 2012 to a similar figure but on the red ink side of the book in the same period this year, despite an 8 percent improvement in revenues, a growing client base and heavier marketing.
Sportech is well-placed to advance in the US; it has a presence through the successful Sportech Racing subsidiary, which currently generates around 40 percent of the group's earnings, and holds a slew of betting licenses across almost half the US states.
Chief executive Ian Penrose has made no secret of his intention to turn that substantial US presence into a competitive online gambling venture in states where this is legal, and he has revealed that talks are in progress with a number of potential software providers.
If successful in New Jersey, Sportech will find itself in some august company, according to a mix of recent media reports and speculation.
Some 37 companies, several US land giants partnered with major online gambling companies among them, have already applied for New Jersey licensing, where online gambling will be confined to existing Atlantic City land operators.
All but two of those operators have already clinched online gambling operational partnerships, leaving only Revel and Atlantic Club still to announce partners.
The rumour-mill has it that the giant American horse-racing conglomerate Churchill Downs – which already has considerable experience in online wagering through its TwinSpires.com company – may be interested in Atlantic Club, which controversially backed out of a deal with Pokerstars earlier this year).
The innovative and energetic UK land and online gambling group Paddy Power is also rumoured to have plans to expand its international reach into the US, and has reportedly made application, too – there is talk of an Atlantic Club move there as well.
Another recent foreign contender is UK-based 2UP Gaming, which has announced that it has the financial clout to take an acquisition run at an unidentified Atlantic City land casino…or build one of its own. The company has indicated that it has substantial Asian backing, but has not identified from whom.
The latest speculation was triggered by tweets from an Atlantic City casino business publication which suggested that the huge Malaysian and UK land and online gambling group Genting may be interested in Revel.
New Jersey looks set to be a highly competitive and overcrowded online gambling market…but that could mean better offers to players.