iGB Diary: Excuses excuses, it's all happening on IoM, Tats markets, Paper tigers?

15 November 2013

Sorry excuses
You know the industry’s at some kind of turning point when a number of the larger, legacy brands begin to suffer big dents in their revenues and come up with woeful excuses for poor performance. The Diary's favourite this week has to go to Gala Coral, who blamed a “long British summer” (careful what you wish for eh...) for a 34% slide in fourth quarter earnings, a year-on-year loss of £20m. Next thing you know the CFO will tell shareholders that his dog has eaten his annual report. Bwin.party also came up with a few corkers this week after seeing their Q3 revenues fall 21% year-on-year. Not only that it looks like they have ground all new casino development to a standstill and are only making money in one, just one, regulated market; Belgium. That’s a bit like buying a million pounds worth of scratch cards and only getting a fiver back. For some bizarre reason Norbert Teufelberger, co-founder and now sole CEO following Jim Ryan’s exit a year ago, focused on Greece and its restrictive market as one of the principal reasons for his company’s slump in fortunes. Greece? It only accounts for around 4% of revenues. How about telling us why the company’s numbers have dramatically fallen ever since the merger with PartyGaming and exactly what point of differentiation the company now offers compared to its competitors. These two companies are not alone. The market is getting tougher and tougher and, while we're not sure what changes lay ahead it seems certain a number of large brands are going through some painful times and that there will inevitably be more casualties in the coming months.

Great fires of, er Douglas!
Sighs of relief all round this week after Isle of Man Today revealed the explosive news that a fire had broken out in the Mount Murray Hotel and Country Club and forced organisers KPMG to move its annual egaming summit to another venue. Fear not diary readers, the event went ahead as planned at the Palace Hotel, Central Promenade. Quite how IOM Today managed to squeeze 437 words out of this “story” is anyone’s guess.

In other Isle of Man news:
Monday: Isai “bigfoot” Scheinberg spotted on Island
Tuesday: Cat grows tail
Wednesday: Missing pasty found
Thursday: Man born
Friday: Hooray! It’s Thursday!
Saturday: Pokerstars sponsors solo three-legged race
Sunday: We’re closed

Tats magic
Surely the best news of the week has to be television presenter and broadcaster David Dimbleby getting a scorpion tattooed on his shoulder blade at the age of 75. Of course a betting company had to get in on the action with William Hill reportedly paying out to six punters at odds of 16/1. But questions remains as to why there was a market on Dimbers getting a tat, how anyone knew about it and lastly why anyone would be stupid enough to put money on such a strange event? What next, David Cameron answering Prime Minister’s Question Time in nothing but a pair of Union Jack socks? I’d like to suggest the following as potential markets, let’s see if Hills agree:

  • Ralph Topping to shave off his beard for Children in Need
  • Hills to rebrand as ‘Squillion Mill’ after making so much cash this year
  • Topping to play Father Christmas in the 18th remake of Miracle on 34th Street
  • Richard Glynn to be poached as deputy CEO

Paper talk
With the UK Point of Consumption Tax theoretically only a year away, what gives with every jurisdiction under the sun bar Gibraltar (that stands to suffer more than most due to tier one operators residing there) signing Memorandums of Understanding? What is an MoU anyway and what does it even signify? To cynics, i.e. us lot at the Diary, it’s just a piece of paper that's more about form than substance, but clearly it means a great deal to smaller tax havens such as Alderney and Malta who, whenever they get their Mont Blancs out of their top pockets to sign one of these things, pump out a press release. POCT is undoubtedly going to have a major impact and the gut feel is that these documents, as well as perhaps some of these jurisdictions, will no longer be necessary in a rapidly maturing and regulating industry.