A LOVE AFFAIR WITH BRUSSELS
Casinos Austria International treated the European capital to an unforgettable party to celebrate the opening of its VIAGE entertainment center and casino.
For three days at the end of April, the Place de la Monnaie in the heart of Brussels was the place to be. More than 800 invited guests and 130 journalists turned out for champagne and cocktails at a VIP Gala reception on April 22, capped by a ribbon-cutting formally inaugurating the 14,000-square-meter entertainment center.
“We wanted to make sure that everyone in Brussels had the chance to enjoy our opening weekend and see for themselves some of the many entertainment options we have to offer,” said General Manager Andrew Webb.
VIAGE, which translates from the French as “voyage” or “journey,” boasts a unique nightlife experience, centered on a 1,000-seat theater hosting some of the continent’s best-known performers, a rooftop restaurant called Kameleon Sky specializing in fine dining and spectacular views of the city, and a more casual eatery called Saffron, featuring a mix of Asian and Belgian dishes.
The casino is touted as one of Europe’s finest, with 36 table games (including roulette, blackjack, punto banco, Brussels Stud Poker and Texas Hold ’Em), 360 gaming machines and 100 bingo seats. VIAGE also offers a dedicated poker room and a seven-table salon privé called the Oak Room.
Together with its various local partners, Vienna-based Casinos Austria International operates 38 land-based casinos in 16 countries, eight shipboard casinos, 15 slot parlors, a range of lottery products and a new online gaming platform (caigames.com).
BALLY TAKES ITALY WITH MAJOR DEAL FOR VLTS, SYSTEMS
Bally Technologies has moved strongly into the European VLT market, securing contracts to initially provide 3,600 games for Italy’s new video lottery program.
The Las Vegas-based slots and systems giant has entered into long-term agreements with two of the country’s VLT concessionaires - HBG Group, for 2,000 machines, and Sisal Slot, for 1,600 machines.
Bally expects to begin delivery in the fall.
The agreements include both games and systems solutions and will feature Bally’s CMP technology suite, which includes an array of player-tracking, bonusing, promotions and reporting tools.
In addition to games and systems, the company will draw upon its expertise in the central-determination and VLT markets to provide a server-based central-control and monitoring system designed specifically for the Italian market.
The company also has signed a distribution agreement with Italy-based Zest Gaming to market, sell, service and maintain its video lottery systems and gaming devices in Italy.
Zest is one of the largest gaming technology providers on the continent.
UK GAMBLING DOWN, LATEST SURVEY SAYS
Figures for the year to March released by the UK Gambling Commission show a slight drop in gambling activity.
The conclusion was reached from results of the commission’s quarterly gambling participation survey of 8,000 respondents cited in a report by the Gaming Intelligence Web site. The survey found that 54.7 percent of the country took part in at least one form of gambling in the previous four weeks. In the four weeks through December, 55.2 percent of respondents said they had gambled in the previous four weeks.
The level of remote gambling participation climbed to 10.7 percent (10.5 percent for the 2009 calendar year), driven by an increase in online lottery sales. Participation in all other games, including poker, casino, betting and bingo, was unchanged or down compared to the previous period.
Excluding those who played only National Lottery products online, the level of remote gambling participation was 5.7 percent, unchanged from last year and basically flat with 2008.
Among all respondents, 9.4 percent said they had gambled online via the Internet, up from 9.1 percent in 2009. Mobile gambling was unchanged at 2.8 percent. Interactive TV was down slightly, from 1.9 percent to 1.7 percent.
A BANNER YEAR FOR LOTTERY IN CZECH REPUBLIC
SAZKA, the Czech Republic’s largest operator of lottery and betting games, reported a 3.8 percent increase in revenues year over year to more than US$4 billion.
The increase was the highest ever for the company, which is operated as a joint stock company with nine sports-oriented civic associations as shareholders.
Earnings after tax exceeded $64 million.
Odds bets comprised the largest sales increase, up almost 94 percent as a result of the introduction of Internet betting. In January 2009, the company launched Sazka TIP Internet odds bets, which were complemented with live bets in December, enabling players to bet on selected sports events in running.
Also last year, the company launched its Klub Sazka loyalty program.
The company paid out more than $228 million in prizes during the year, up 9.8 percent over 2008. The largest prize, $4.1 million, was won in the Sportka number lottery.
According to a November 2009 study by the European Brand Institute, which looked into more than 3,000 companies from 24 countries, SAZKA was ranked the most valuable brand in the Czech Republic.
Since its founding SAZKA has contributed more than $1.4 billion to good causes and paid out almost $4.9 billion in prizes.
APPLE's iPHONE: A VIRGIN NO MORE
Betfair has launched a gambling application for the Apple iPhone.
The app, currently available in the UK and Ireland only, lets customers of the betting exchange giant bet on an array of sporting and non-sporting events. The strength of the iPhone’s features will provide bettors “the same core functionality as the main Betfair site,” said the company’s head of mobile, Charles Palmer.
The news comes as a surprise to some since real-money gambling apps haven’t been allowed onto the iPhone App Store before.
Betfair’s uses GPS to make sure that users are in the UK or Ireland before allowing them to place a bet - a move designed to ensure it doesn’t flout remote gambling laws in other countries, like the United States.
Palmer says Betfair signed up 40 percent more mobile users last year, with mobile revenues growing 50 percent year on year.
GLI MOVES BOLDLY INTO ONLINE SPACE
Gaming Laboratories International is expanding into remote gambling, creating a new interactive gaming division, GLI Interactive, and acquiring the assets, intellectual property and trade names of Technical Systems Testing, a global leader in interactive gaming and systems testing and wagering system certification.
The new division will allow GLI to combine its services with TST’s technical knowledge in the e-Gaming and interactive gaming niche.
Phillip Barow, managing director for Netherlands-based GLI Europe, was one of the key architects of the TST acquisition and will become the new managing director of GLI Interactive, responsible for leading the company’s e-Gaming testing worldwide.
TST will continue to operate under its current brand and from its labs in London, Macau, Manila and Vancouver, GLI said. GLI also said it is retaining TST Chief Executive Salim Adatia and his management team, including CTO Noah Turner; and all of TST’s employees.
Interactive gaming development in Europe will be headed by Filippo Ferri, who will work closely with TST management, GLI said.
TST, GLI Europe and GLI Italy will work in close concert under the management of Barow and Martin Britton, director of operations of GLI Europe and GLI Italy.