iGB Diary: GVC close to climax?!, Macau scale, Champagne Showers, Paddy's immigrant love in

10 July 2015

Happy Friday! This week GVC and bwin get nearer to tying the knot, Macau makes for fascinating reading and viewing, Champagne Showers in Malta and we look back at Paddy's 'immigrant truck' from last week.

GVC close to climax?! 
The M&A space this week was dominated by the potential GVC-bwin party deal. The principle of the €900m cash and shares acquisition seems to be agreed and approval from bwin shareholders will now be sought. GVC boss Kenny Alexander talked about major synergies (cutting costs), but it will be interesting to see how his group handles bwin’s regulated markets. The latter’s strategy of focusing on regulated countries is well known but it is notoriously difficult to make much money out of them, while GVC has been doing very well by focusing on unregulated/grey markets in recent years. Meanwhile Germany is a vital market for both GVC and bwin party and will loom large on their thoughts with the regulatory situation there remaining very much unclear. As for GVC’s tie up with Amaya, the Canadian group has seemed to act as much as a conduit to funding as the acquirer of PartyPoker’s US activity, hence entering New Jersey at some point, while hoovering up the last of the poker competition. Anyway, we thought this French affiliate’s take on the GVC-bwin talks was very… French. Loosely translated: ‘bwin takeover: GVC close to climax.’ Yep, we weren’t sure what to make of it either. 

Scale it up
Scale is a word that is used so often in the gambling industry that it is easy to lose sight of its true meaning. To illustrate the point, the word trillion is often bandied about when talking about debt or liabilities, especially since 2008. But did you know that when converted into years a trillion seconds amounts to 31688.8 years? Gives an idea of true scale (thanks to Bitcoin expert Brock Pierce’s talk at the iGaming Super Show for this nugget). Which brings us on to Macau, the size of the casino business there and the dispute between the US public service broadcaster PBS and renowned investigative journalist Lowell Bergman of big tobacco-busting fame (played by Al Pacino in the movie The Insider). PBS cancelled a Frontline documentary about Macau casinos and their alleged relationships with criminal gangs in China and Hong Kong; and when it comes to US casinos of course we’re talking about the likes of the Wynn group and Sheldon Adelson’s LVS. Recriminations abound, with Bergman and his team claiming PBS got cold feet at the prospect of endless and hugely costly lawsuits from Steve Wynn and Adelson, while PBS shot back that Bergman and his team’s work had been slack and didn’t meet the required editorial standards for such a programme. But for more on the sheer scale of the Macau casino business, the role and place of criminal gangs and the links it has Chinese politics, nationalism, finance and so on, you can read about it here and watch Bergman moderating a talk about it here, the Guardian also wrote a good piece on Macau back in April.

Paddy’s immigrant love in
So Paddy Power was left ‘red faced’ when it paid out early on a ‘Yes’ vote for the Greece referendum last Sunday, only to find out that the Greeks had decided to reject it, and pretty overwhelmingly. Enough of the frivolous stuff and on to Paddy’s classic ‘immigrant truck’ stunt from last week (we had a tech hiccup, aka as fat finger syndrome, so couldn’t report on it). The bookmaker sent a bright green truck down to Dover plastered with the tagline: “Immigrants, jump in the back! (But only if you’re good at sport)”. Call it gimmicky or any other derogatory term but it probably attracted opprobrium and applause in equal measure, so clearly achieved its aim. Some of the Facebook comments it generated were also quite sublime, but our pick featured one Andy Johnstone, who proudly announced: “That's the paddy power app deleted then!” Had he been offended by Paddy Power making fun of people stuck in Calais in desperate circumstances? (Calais is bad enough when everything’s ok so…) Or fleeing some war-ravaged hell-hole of a homeland? Oh no. As he asked with a rhetorical flourish: “Not even worth joking about tho (sic) is it, or are you all happy for the floodgates to open(?)” Unbeatable logic there Andy, final word has to go to Paddy Power though, as it responded via a statement: “That’s (the stunt is) a reference to the fact that so many of England’s most celebrated athletes of recent years aren’t actually English at all. For example (…) highly underpaid football player Raheem Sterling, general liability Manu Tualagi and Eoin Morgan – who is about as English as a burrito, wearing a beret, dancing a tango on top of a left-hand drive Saab.” Well put Paddy. Next time send the truck up the road to the village of Down, Ukip leader Nigel Farage would welcome it with open arms. 

Champagne Showers  
Many of the industry execs who attended the iGaming Super Show in late June headed straight to Malta after the event to finish the week at Champagne Showers (there’s a brand name that could be misconstrued if I ever saw one, Ed). The event is “a spectacular Ibiza inspired pool party based on a Champagne concept” according to the blurb, but where people (lots of them igaming since it’s Malta’s second biggest industry after tourism) basically drink all day and spray each other with champers. Hard life eh. Even more galling, iGaming Business could have had a table at the event but our boss turned it down saying we needed to get back to the office!! Sheeesh…


Have a great weekend!