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Unibet acquired a quarter share in Bingo.com in hopes of entering the US market

May 07, 2010
Bingo Unibet

In anticipating of a potential opening of the US online gambling market, Unibet PLC has paid $2.25 million for a 25.9% share in bingo.com. The private placement comes shortly after bingo.com switched to Unibet’s online bingo and casino network. Unibet has also announced its intention to apply for a license to operate in France.

Wall Street Journal Market Watch: Bingo.com Closes $2,250,000 Private Placement from Unibet

Bingo.com, Ltd., owner of the online gaming site www.bingo.com, announced yesterday that it closed a private placement from Unibet Group plc, selling 15 million common shares at $0.15 apiece, raising net proceeds of $2,250,000. The placement represents 25.9% Bingo.com.

“Bingo.com is pleased to have secured a private placement from Unibet,” said Bingo.com’s CEO Tarrnie Williams. “With one of the World’s leading gaming operators as both an investor and operational partner, Bingo.com will now have the resources to support its brand in a number of emerging online bingo markets. We very much look forward to taking on a leading role in the expansion of online bingo worldwide.”

Unibet CEO Petter Nylander was equally positive. “Investing in Bingo.com, one of the strongest bingo brand names in the industry, is exciting for us. We believe in the power of the Bingo.com URL and believe that Bingo.com will be a leader in online bingo for years to come. We look forward to growing our businesses together in existing and new markets.”

Unibet recently developed turn-key online gaming platform, offering partners to be part of their online casino and bingo network.

Business Wire: Unibet Group plc – Interim report January – March 2010

During the first quarter of 2010 Unibet Group plc saw continued growth in terms of gross winnings revenue as well as active customers. Their live betting offerings together with live event streaming and the Unibet Mobile platform have all been important driving factors in recent months.

April also shows very good figures, with average daily gross revenue up over the average daily gross revenue for the previous three months.

Unibet recently decided to apply for a licence to operate in France after the recent opening of their online gambling market. The exact terms of licences in the country have yet to be revealed, but 2010 earnings are not expected to be significant. This change in the regulatory situation renders the group’s financial goals for 2010 obsolete. Given the uncertainty regarding France, Unibet CEO Petter Nylande says it will be challenging to outperform 2009.

Lastly, in preparation for the possible opening of the US online gambling market, Unibet has acquired 25.9% of the NASDAQ listed company Bingo.com through a private placement of $2.25 million.

eGaming Review: Unibet wagers on legal US egaming with Bingo.com stake

UNIBET just acquired a quarter of NASDAQ-listed Bingo.com in hopes that the US online gambling market will soon open up once again.

The Swedish operator now owns a 25.9% stake in the business, acquired through a private placement for $2.25m. The move follows just two months after Bingo.com joined Unibet’s online bingo and casino network in March.

Petter Nylander, chief executive of Unibet, said: “We believe in the power of the Bingo.com URL and believe that Bingo.com will be a leader in online bingo for years to come.”

Unibet also just announced its intention to apply for a licence to operate in the recently-opened French egaming market.

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Bingo Bill Makes Headway in the Alabama State Senate

Mar 31, 2010
Alabama Bingo

After months of both debate and action with accents of public discontent, a bill regarding the current bingo situation has finally made a bit of headway in the Alabama legislative system. The bill was passed, by the skin of its teeth in the state Senate on Tuesday.

Andalusia State-News: Bingo narrowly passes Senate

Late yesterday, the Alabama Senate passed a bingo bill with a vote of 21-13. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, and would allow Alabama residents to decide if they want to tax and regulate electronic bingo in November.

This bill would create a gaming commission and tax gambling in the state by at least 25%. Bedford said that this rate is already 3 times higher than in New Jersey and Nevada, but could be increased.

The 5 members of the gaming commission couldn’t work for gambling interests for 5 years before or after serving on the commission; and gambling interests couldn’t contribute to the campaigns of the elected officials who appoint commission members. The commission would have subpoena power and would be subject to the Alabama Ethics Commission.

If the Legislature and voters approve the bill, lawmakers will have a special session next year and determine more of the details. The measure must also pass the Alabama House of Representatives.

CBS News: Senate Approves Bingo Bill

A once thought dead bingo bill has new life in what the bill’s author calls a shorter, simpler form. In a surprise move on Tuesday, Senate Bill 330 was re-introduced by Senator Roger Bedford. Senate Republicans tried to defeat the measure but failed and it passed with 21 votes to 13.

The bill now needs to be passed in the state House. There are still 3 weeks left in the session, and bingo supporters say they’ll have plenty of time to get it passed so Alabama residents will get the chance to vote on it in November.

The Associated Press: Alabama Senate Passes Electronic Bingo Bill

Alabama voters may get to vote in referendum on whether they want electronic gaming in the state after the senate passed a proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday night.

The senate mustered 21 votes, just enough to pass the bill, which protects games from raids, at the same time as taxing and regulating them. Before this bill is subjected to referendum, it must be passed in the state’s House of Representatives.

In the meantime, the Alabama Supreme Court has left a judge’s order in place which blocks the Governor’s Anti-Gambling Task Force from raiding VictoryLand in Macon County.

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Alabama’s Bingo Battle Verging on All-Out War

Mar 24, 2010
Bingo Peace

Alabama state governor Bob Riley has become famous for his Task Force on Illegal Gambling, which he sends around to raid what he calls “illegal” electronic bingo halls. In a surprising move, Attorney General Troy King has just taken control of the task force, insisting that the raids stop until the legal status of the bingo machines is determined by the courts. The state of Alabama has already paid half a million dollars in legal fees supporting the Task Force in the 18 lawsuits that have been filed against it. Task Force Commander John Tyson, says King does not have the authority to take over or stop raids.

Bloomberg Business Week: Alabama AG to take over antigambling task force

Two casinos in the US state of Alabama intend to reopen next week after Attorney General Troy King announced that he is taking over the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling, King intends to put an end to the ongoing raids of electronic bingo casinos until a final court ruling regarding the legality of machines.

The two casinos, Country Crossing at Dothan and White Hall Entertainment Center in Lowndes County, both closed down a month ago to avoid being raided by the governor’s task force.

The legal battle over electronic bingo in Alabama’s boils down to a simple disagreement. Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Task Force Commander Tyson argue that electronic bingo machines are illegal slot machines, while King insists that the final determination must be made by the court.

King intends to use his authority as Alabama’s top law officer to take control, remove Tyson from power, and secure all evidence collected by the Task Force. King will also put an end to the pre-dawn raids of casinos that the Task Force has been conducting – without search warrants.

Task Force Commander Tyson, who is also a district attorney in Mobile, says King does not have the authority to take over or stop raids.

“If the attorney general gets his way, then the only thing that will be assured is that the illegal slot machines casinos will get to stay open for months and months as the gambling bosses drag out the litigation that the attorney general says he is going to bring,” Tyson said.

Fox News Alabama: Tyson Fires Back at Troy King over Gambling

John Tyson said yesterday that he has no intentions of stepping down from his position as the Commander of Alabama Governor Riley’s anti-gambling task force.

Tyson he argues that the issue is greater than just a battle against illegal gambling, noting that casinos have a tendency to breed corruption.

“I fought corruption because it’s the right thing to do and yeah, I’ve taken some heat for it,” Tyson said. “Governor Riley and I talked about the price of fighting corruption. We both agree, it’s worth the heat.”

Tyson also said he would comply with King’s demands turn over the evidence the Task Force has collected.

When asked if he intends to execute raids on any casinos that dare to re-open in light of King’s announcement, Tyson replied: “The Governor of the state of Alabama as recently as this morning again says ‘John, you’re the commander of the task force on illegal gambling, go get ’em, ‘. I will see to it to see that the laws of the state are enforced. I will not disclose how we might choose to do that.”

Mongomery Advisor: Several lawsuits have been filed against the task force

The state of Alabama has paid $536,115 in legal expenses since December 2008 to support Governor Bob Riley’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling.

The state has also has seized about $1.3 million during raids on electronic bingo parlors. After each of the raids or in to stop anticipated raids, organizations have filed lawsuits against the Task Force, its Commander John Tyson., Governor Riley, and other officials.

According to the Governor’s office, the Task Force is currently involved in 18 lawsuits related to gambling. The court battles involve operators trying to get back gambling machines and monies seized during the raids. Some lawsuits even involve attempts by bingo establishments to file restraining orders against the Task Force to prevent future raids.

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Debate of Gambling in Alabama Continues to Escalate

Feb 24, 2010
Alabama bingo

Governor Bob Riley of Alabama continues to go on an escapade claiming that Bingo machines in a new local entertainment center are actually illegal slot machines. Rallies are being held over the issue and in a recent rally against the facility, Riley was drowned out by cries of “Let us Vote.”

Bloomberg Business Week: Bingo proponents drown out Ala. governor at rally

Gov. Bob Riley attempted to address casino opponents gathered in front of Alabama’s Statehouse, Monday, but was drowned out by the shouts of casino supporters. Shouts of “Let us vote” made hearing Riley say electronic bingo machines are illegal slot machines difficult.

Inside the Statehouse, proponents of pro-electronic bingo casino legislation decided not to seek a vote in the Senate. They didn’t have the required 21 out of the 35 senators’ votes. If passed by the Senate, legislation won’t take effect unless approved by the House and then by Alabama voters in a statewide referendum.

The legislation would tax, regulate and protect 3 facilities that were shut down under the threat of raids by the Governor’s Task Force on Illegal Gambling. It would also allow 2 dog tracks, additional casinos and 4 new casinos.

More than 1,000 people overflowed the Statehouse lawn and spilled over onto the Capitol lawn during the Governors speech. Riley and his wife were surrounded by a dozen uniformed and plainclothes officers as they tried to speak over the shouting of casino proponents.

CBS News: Bingo Rallies

It was a spirited and tense day in front of the Alabama State House as 2 rallies ran – 1 for and 1 against bingo. The pro bingo crowd’s cries delayed an appearance by Gov. Riley. After the crowd calmed the governor addressed his loyal supporters.

Many Alabama residents believe that if gambling is allowed, crime, poverty, unemployment will increase. Others believe allowing gambling in any form will destroy Alabama families. Others turn to the Bible for their beliefs on gambling.

The pro bingo rally message is simple, they just want a chance to vote on the matter. One of the main reasons supporters want to see electronic bingo facilities stay open is because for many, it’s their livelihood. The gambling facilities provide communities with hundreds of jobs, if nothing else. A lack of support in the Senate kept the Bill from reaching the floor.

AL.com: Bingo forces clash in competing rallies on the State House steps

More than 1,000 protesters for and against bingo are amassed on the steps of the Alabama State House trying to out-shout each other. Bingo supporters chant “Let the people vote,” while opponents chant, “Enforce the law.”

Gov. Bob Riley was supposed to speak at 12:30, but it’s unclear whether he will appear as hundreds of protestors swamp the steps and both sides try to shout each out other in a chaotic clash.

Employees of the state’s major bingo casinos went to the State House to show support for bingo legislation being considered this session. They began arriving at 10 a.m. and have a rally set for 2 p.m. Anti-bingo protestors arrived for their rally simultaneously.

Many people are proponents to the many gambling facilities because they depend on it. The different gambling centers throughout Alabama provide hundreds of jobs to local residents and are a financial staple to society.

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Playtech acquires Virtue Fusion

Feb 17, 2010
Playtech

The online gaming software giant Playtech has purchased the internet bingo company Virtue Fusion in a deal worth up to £36 million. Virtue Fusion currently supplies more than 20 groups with online bingo services. The deal is expected to push Playtech to the forefront of the international online bingo industry.

Reuters UK: Playtech buys online bingo firm Virtue Fashion

The internet gambling software giant Playtech just acquired the online bingo company Virtue Fashion in a deal worth up to £36 million. Playtech aims strengthen its presence in the international bingo market.

Playtech will make an initial payment of £29 million pounds in cash, with an additional performance-based payment of up to £7 million in early 2011.

The company says that bingo is one of the fastest growing facets of the online gambling world, and that the the deal will provide them with cross-selling opportunities.

Virtue Fashion currently has more than 20 licensees, including well known brands like as William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power. They saw a turnover of £12.3 million in 2009.

Playtech’s shares have lifted 21% in the last three months. Shares were up 2.1% to 477 pence after the merger was announced, valuing the company at about £1.15 billion.

London Evening Standard: Bingo king Al Haig sells Virtue to Playtech for £29m

Land-based bingo halls in the UK might be struggling, but millions of pounds are pouring through online versions of the game, where bingo is one of the online gaming industry’s fastest growing markets.

Internet bingo entrepreneur Al Haig recently became £25 million richer after selling his Virtue Fusion bingo business to Playtech for an upfront cost of £29 million, with more cash to follow if the business does well.

Virtue Fusion creates online bingo platforms for household names such as Ladbrokes and Sky. Playtech also works in the online gaming business, putting together software for internet casinos, mobile phones and TVs. Virtue Fusion had turnover of £12 million and saw a profit of £3.8 million last year.

Bob McCulloch, Virtual Fusion’s chief executive, is also expecting a pay-out from the deal, and intends to stay with the business for at least two years.

Playtech’s chief executive, Mor Weizer, said the acquisition will make his company a leading player in the international bingo market.

Proactive Investors UK: Playtech snaps up online bingo developer Virtue Fusion for £29 million

Online gaming software company Playtech is acquiring Virtue Fusion, a developer and licensor of internet bingo products, for an initial price of £29 million in cash, up to a potential £36 million depending on the performance of Virtue Fusion in 2010.

Playtech said the acquisition will transform it into a global leader in online bingo market, complementing its current position in the internet poker and casino industries. The deal is also expected to be earnings accretive in 2010, and will generate “additional cross-selling opportunities”.

In 2009, Virtue Fusion generated £12.3 million in revenues and adjusted EBITDA of £3.8 million, marking a significant increase compared to 2008 revenues of £8.1 million and adjusted EBITDA of £2.3 million in 2008. Playtech is paying a premium price to gain a firm position in the bingo sector, which according to the company is one of the fastest growing online gaming segments.

Virtue Fusion typically sees more than 6,000 concurrent players on their platform. They licence their online bingo products to more than 20 groups, including Paddy Power, Vigrin and William Hill.

“For Playtech, the acquisition significantly enhances its own bingo offering, brings new licensees and enhances its relationships with a number of existing licensees. It also positions Playtech as the leading supplier in all of the key product segments in the online gaming industry, with very substantial liquidity in each of its player networks,” Playtech stated this morning.

“As with poker, network player liquidity is an important element for bingo operators. By linking the operator’s bingo rooms across the network, Virtue Fusion can facilitate more frequent games being offered and higher prize values and jackpots for the same individual stake. Both Playtech and Virtue Fusion’s existing licensees will therefore enjoy the benefits of increased liquidity when their networks are combined.”

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