Friday, December 25, 2009

Online gaming groups say they are on winning streak - 20th December 2009

Two of Britain’s largest online gaming groups signalled yesterday that punters were returning to the tables.

PartyGaming recorded its best quarter since the second quarter of 2008, while Sportingbet said it had gone from strength to strength.

The fourth quarter of the year is seasonally strong for online gaming companies and PartyGaming did not disappoint after reporting quarter-on-quarter growth across all of its categories, including bingo and casino. KBC Peel Hunt, the stockbroker and advisory house, projected a 24 per cent rise in revenue compared with the same period in 2008, its first year-on-year rise in six quarters.

Yet it was at the poker table that the company played its strongest hand, after revamping its site and working hard to introduce better loyalty offers. It is the first quarter-on-quarter growth that the company, once the largest online poker company in the world, has recorded since 2007.

Jim Ryan, chief executive of PartyGaming, hailed the “return to growth” in the fourth quarter, despite competition from “illegal” US-facing sites.

“Returning poker to growth has been a key focus for us. We are pleased to see that the initiatives introduced throughout the year are now feeding through into both operational and financial performance with increased player numbers and average net daily revenues,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sportingbet also issued a positive trading statement yesterday to coincide with its annual meeting. It said that the strength of its online sportsbook, which accounts for nearly 70 per cent of its revenue, has continued to offset weakness at its poker operation.

PartyGaming looks set to play a significant role in industry consolidation during 2010.

It aims to be a top-three player in the online sportsbook market, after its acquisition of Gamebookers three years ago.

PartyGaming secured a new £35 million banking facility that will fund bolt-on deals. However, the company kept its cards close to its chest over its acquisition plans.




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