iGB Diary: Playtech eyes up OpenBet clients, Bede research, Snap! err, chat?, slots in a vacuum

21 February 2014

And they’re off!
Playtech quotes are back to their bombastic best this week. Online betting is the one vertical where the group hasn’t made any real headway (yet?), so good to see chief exec Mor Weizer follow up the record results news yesterday with the claim that Playtech would become the leading supplier in online betting (although the “transformational acquisition” shtick could do with an update). Playtech should be finalising deals for new clients on the Geneity platform it acquired in 2012 soon, but should the competition be worried? When Playtech talks about operators looking to overhaul their “legacy systems”, it’s batting its eyelashes at all those working off OpenBet. For the time being OpenBet probably doesn’t need to worry too much, but there’s no doubt the starting gun has now gone off between the two firms. And remember what Teddy Sagi’s company (according to the Daily Telegraph, Sagi stands to pocket a cool £76m from the £100m dividend to the group is paying out to, err, shareholders) said when it first emerged. When asked what its main aim was, it was happy to reply something to the effect of (ok, just less polite): “to annihilate CryptoLogic”, at the time one of the leading igaming suppliers. And we all know what happened to Crypto in the following years...  

Bede research
Good to see other gaming news sites ‘revealing’ that a number of online bingo brands owned by a certain European Domain Management had decided to move over to the Bede Gaming platform. But were we the only ones to know that EDM is also owned by Bede’s founders and senior management? 

Congrats to Betfair as it’s now the first igaming company to feature on Snapchat, the photo messaging mobile app. The deal will see the operator trial its prices and offers to Snapchat users via its ‘Betfairofficial’ handle, although one does wonder how many punters use the app and what’s the difference between getting those updates on the official Betfair app or some live score/banner-type offering (or maybe we’re just getting too old for all this stuff...). Anyway, it’s good to move with the times. Speaking of messaging apps and all things online, new Facebook acquisition WhatsApp’s line criticising Google was cute: “They knew what you were searching for, so they could gather your data more efficiently and sell better ads. These days companies know literally everything about you, your friends, your interests, and they use it all to sell ads.” Reminds us some other online giant... just can’t think of the name right now. 

Online slots love a regulatory vacuum
It’s only fair that the Spanish Gaming Business Council (CEJUEGO) should bristle at the possibility of online slots being regulated in Spain, it wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t make its opposition to the project clear. Alejandro Landaluce, director general of CEJUEGO, said “the approval of the law would create an insurmountable level of unfair competition (for land-based gaming companies)... which are heavily regulated and controlled by the autonomous communities to ensure a clean and safe [environment] for responsible gamblers”. That it wants to protect its members’ interests is the prerogative of any lobby but the Spanish government should take CEJUEGO’s warnings with a large pinch of salt. The fact that generally there are major differences between online and offline slot players (demographic, socio-economic etc) is one issue; if Spain drops the regulation it would just create a vacuum and result in Spaniards going to play on sites more than happy to accept their bets without any kind of regulatory supervision whatsoever, never mind being taxed and providing much-needed revenues for the state. In fact, Spain should ask France about the nefarious effects of leaving a regulatory vacuum on such a key igaming product.