Just over three years since it was launched in 2006, Sportingbet's Italian venture, Sportingbet Italia has been sold to its management for an undisclosed but reportedly nominal consideration.
UK business media report that the UK gambling group entered the Italian market in the hope that further liberalisation of Italian online gaming regulation would take place, including a rise in the maximum payout from Euro 10 000. However, the Italian authorities introduced a new offline model by tendering over 13 500 shop-based licences. The consequence was more competition from offline outlets, adding to other concerns regarding the Italian government's requirement that operators use specific software for the Italian market.
The sale is likely to result in an exceptional cost of GBP 7.1 million, reports the Reuters news agency, but the management is still confident of hitting forecasts of GBP 29 million in operating profits for the year ending 31 July 2009.
Reports indicate that losses have accrued since the acquisition in May 2006 of Sportingbet Italia.
Amounts wagered at Sportingbet Italia in the first 11 months of its current financial year were GBP 13.7 million with GBP 2 million in net gaming revenue, resulting in an operational loss of approximately GBP 1.5 million.