|Traded as||LSE: BPTY
|Headquarters||Suite 711, Europort, Gibraltar|
|Key people||Simon Duffy, Chairman
Jim Ryan, co-CEO
Norbert Teufelberger, co-CEO
|Revenue||€ 609.4 million (2013)|
|Operating income||€51.9 million (2013)|
|Net income||€41.1 million (2013)|
Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment is an online gambling company, formed by the March 2011 merger of PartyGaming plc and Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG. The world's largest publicly traded online gambling firm, it is best known for its online poker room PartyPoker.com and its sports betting brand Bwin (officially styled bwin). It is headquartered in Gibraltar and quoted on the London Stock Exchange. PartyGaming Plc was founded in 1997 with the launch of Starluck Casino. Prior to passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 by the U.S. Congress, PartyPoker was the world's largest online poker brand (based on cash game revenue and number of players). Its market share has fallen since then, but it remains the third largest online poker room in the world, behind PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.
The new company became the world's largest publicly traded online gaming firm in 2010, 48.4% owned by existing PartyGaming shareholders and 51.6% by Bwin shareholders. The merged company is listed on the London Stock Exchange, with joint CEO's Norbert Teufelberger and Jim Ryan.
bwin – known as betandwin from its founding until 2006 – began life with 12 employees in 1997. The company launched its first online gambling site a year later, focusing on the growing sports betting market. Its live bet product, developed in-house, allows players to bet on sporting events while the event is underway. The firm's initial public offering at the Vienna Stock Exchange took place in March 2000. In June 2001, betandwin acquired Simon Bold (Gibraltar), which is now known as bwin International Ltd., essentially moving its operations to Gibraltar. The move followed that of some of the company's largest rivals to that country. In December 2001, betandwin launched its first online casino platform. Two years later, in July 2003, betandwin introduced a soft games platform known as Balls of Fire. In November 2004, betandwin launched multiplayer poker. The group acquired betoto.com to expand its presence in the Greek market in June 2005, a company which offers a fixed-odds betting service to punters around the globe. December of the same year marked another major acquisition – Ongame e-Solutions AB was taken over. This acquisition furthered the group's strategy of expanding into the poker market; after the takeover, Ongame e-Solutions changed its name to bwin Games. Also in 2005, betandwin acquired global media rights outside of Germany to the German Football League. In August 2006, betandwin launched the new bwin brand, to better reflect the wide assortment of entertainment offerings covered by the company, including sports betting, poker, soft games, and casino games. In 2007, bwin began to offer live streaming of major sports events.
Sports bets are the core business at bwin. Today, the sports betting lineup includes more than 90 different sports; the core area of customer interest is soccer. In order to boost bwin's presence in the UK football betting market, the company launched bwinbetting.com in 2011. Other sports include all popular ball-related sports, US sports as well as all major winter sports and motorsports ranging from Formula 1 to MotoGP. "Exotic" sports such as roller hockey, futsal and darts are also included in the daily lineup. Customers will also find odds on a range of events outside of sports. These include bets on politics and entertainment such as the Oscars, talent shows, the Eurovision Song Contest and "Miss" events.
The following types of games are offered at bwin Poker: Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo and Five-card draw, plus house variations like Double (three hole cards, choose two, halfway between Hold'em and Omaha). In terms of stakes, users can choose between Fixed Limit, Pot Limit or No Limit tables. A "play money" version of the games is also available for users to try out for free. bwin offers poker tournaments, both Sit & Go and scheduled, and cash games (ring games). Sit & Go tournaments begin as soon as the table is completely occupied. Scheduled tournaments begin at a specified time and allow for higher numbers of participants and the highest prize pools. In cash games the players can join and leave whenever they want. bwin Poker can be played using the Mac OS X Poker Client, the Windows Poker Client, the Java Poker Client or the Poker app for Android or the iPhone. The Mac and Windows version offers an extensive selection of features such as statistics and a mini-table function. The Java client is platform-independent as it is a browser-based solution. In January 2011, bwin launched a dedicated Poker app for the iPhone to allow real money poker. This was followed in July 2011 by a similar application for Android-based devices. The mobile client allows customers to play cash games on their mobile phones. Both apps are restricted to limited territories as permitted by local laws.
PokerRoom.com was an online poker cardroom founded in 1999. Licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, PokerRoom offered both play and real money formats. Tournaments and ring games were available in both web-browser and download client platforms, with support for both Macintosh and Linux. PokerRoom was one of the first online poker sites to provide multi-language support, and catered to Danish, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, and Swedish speakers. These languages were accessed via "regional sites", many of them showing local sponsoring for the selected region. After 10 years of operation, bwin announced the closure of PokerRoom.com on 14 April 2009. It was relaunched in 2012 but shut down again on 19 February 2013.
bwin offers more than 100 games, ranging from classics such as roulette or blackjack to slot machines and casino tournaments. The casino has a longstanding tradition at bwin: In 2001, it was introduced as a second product, after sports betting.
bwin offers more than 60 games divided into the categories of Fortune Games, Skill Games, Mini Games and "ParaDice", as well as Backgammon. This is the product group with the biggest potential for innovation and expansion on the market.
As the global legal framework for Internet gambling is a complicated mix of laws and regulations, bwin's situation varies depending on the country concerned. Recently, Italy extended its online licences to include poker tournaments, and countries such as Denmark and Spain announced their intention to permit private operators access to their markets under stringent conditions and controls. On the other hand, other countries maintain a state monopoly on internet gaming, or ban it completely.
On 15 September 2006, Norbert Teufelberger and Manfred Bodner were arrested at a press conference in La Turbie, France, for allegedly breaking French gambling laws. After an investigation, a judge released them three days later. Ironically, when France opened their market for private online gaming in June 2010, bwin became the first operator there.
PartyGaming was founded in 1997 as a network of gambling sites operated by Ruth Parasol in the Caribbean. The network eventually operated under an umbrella company called iGlobalMedia, which then changed its name to PartyGaming. PartyGaming's flagship site, PartyPoker.com, was launched in 2001. Its primary shareholders were Parasol, Group Operations Director Anurag Dikshit, Marketing Director Vikrant Bhargava (who joined the company in 1998 and 1999, respectively), and Russ DeLeon (Parasol's ex-husband, Harvard attorney and serial entrepreneur).
In the 1990s, Las Vegas consultant and actuary Michael Shackleford ran a computer trial of the first blackjack and roulette games offered by the company. Shackleford stated that the "results clearly showed they (the games) weren't fair". Ruth Parasol's spokesman Jon Mendelsohn acknowledged that the chances had "tipped too much toward the house", but attributed the problems to "software flaws", not rigging. It led to the development of their own proprietary software rather than using external platforms.
The foursome sold over 23% of their combined shares to take the company public on the London Stock Exchange in June 2005. The initial offer price of 116p valued the company at £4.64 billion ($8.46 billion). Within a month a rising share price rose saw the value of the company exceed $12 billion. In early September 2005, a cautious statement about future growth prospects saw the shares fall by a third in a day, but the same week the company was promoted to the FTSE 100 Index. By the end of November 2005 the stock had regained its original IPO value. During the IPO, no new shares of PartyGaming were issued, so all of the net proceeds went to the four original shareholders selling shares and nothing to the company itself.
Dikshit and Bhargava stepped down from the company's board in May 2006. Dikshit announced that he would remain with the company as the Chief Operating Officer; Bhargava would continue as an advisor and shareholder of the company while pursuing other business interests.
In February 2006, PartyGaming introduced a new integrated platform, enabling multiple games to be played without requiring customers to log in each time and deposit funds in separate accounts. An online backgammon site, PartyGammon.com, was launched in mid-2006. In August 2006 PartyGaming acquired Antigua and Barbuda–registered sports betting operator Gamebookers which focuses on the European market.
Party Gaming and Bwin merged on March 31, 2011. The rumors of a planned Bwin and Party merger began in November 2009, but were not confirmed until a joint statement was issued August 26, 2010. In December 2010 shareholders were sent a 478-page document which included details and an outline of planned merger. On Jan 28, 2011 the merger was approved by shareholders and then completed on March 31, 2011. PartyPoker Bwin Merger
On 29 September 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
On 2 October 2006, PartyGaming announced that it would "suspend all real money gaming business with US customers" in light of the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. George W. Bush signed the act into law on 13 October, and PartyGaming suspended offerings of real-money games to U.S. players. Free play games and non-US customers were not affected.
In April 2009, the company made a settlement with the United States government where they agreed to pay a penalty of $105 million over the next four years as part of a "non-prosecution agreement". As part of the deal, PartyGaming put its name to a "statement of facts" in which it admitted for the first time that, before October 2006, it had targeted US citizens, resulting in the processing of transactions that were "contrary to certain US laws".
In June 2010, PartyGaming obtained its first agreement on recently regulated French market. This agreement is given for the online betting activity of the websites partybets.fr and gamebookers.fr. At the same time, PartyGaming obtained the online poker French licence for partypoker.fr, acfpoker.fr and luckyjeux.fr.
In February 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority referred the Bwin arm of bwin.party to the Australian Federal Police for contraventions of the Interactive Gambling Act. The Act prohibits gambling companies from providing 'interactive' gambling services to those in Australia. Penalties for each breach, which can be for each day, are $220,000 for individuals and $1.1 million for corporations.
PartyPoker.com was launched in August 2001 and was one of the pioneers of the online poker industry. It has since grown to be one of the largest online poker card rooms. The site is endorsed by Mike Sexton, the host of the World Poker Tour television show. The domain partypoker.com attracted at least 3.6 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study. Today, the site is available in 14 different languages and in addition to PartyPoker.com, PartyPoker also offers dedicated networks for French and Italian based players via PartyPoker.fr and PartyPoker.it, respectively.
PartyPoker offers a wide variety of different tournaments with different prize levels for single-table tournaments as well as multi-table tournaments. PartyPoker's Sit & Go tournaments run 24 hours a day and players can register for tournaments with entry fees starting at $1, and ranging in size from 2 to 50 players.
In its early days, PartyGaming entered into several marketing partnerships that allowed companies such as Empire Online, which ran Empire Poker, to share in a common pool of poker players. Players could access the PartyGaming network either through the PartyPoker.com software itself or through the software of one of PartyGaming's "skin" partners.
In mid-2005, PartyGaming made various moves to ringfence its own players from those of the "skin" partners. The company began to explore mergers, buyouts, and other options. In October of that year, PartyGaming launched an upgraded PartyPoker.com software system that cut off the "skin" partners from the main pool of players, and left the "skin" players on the old system.
In November 2005, offer discussions with Empire Online were terminated, and in December Empire Online confirmed that it had started legal proceedings against PartyGaming in the High Court of Gibraltar. In February 2006 the two companies announced a US$250 million settlement deal; PartyGaming agreed to acquire Empire's "skin" operations, and Empire dropped the suit. In December 2006, PartyGaming announced the acquisition of the remaining assets of Empire Online.
PartyGaming also acquired the operations of former "skin" partners IntertopsPoker and MultiPoker, in separate private transactions for undisclosed amounts.
In November 2013 it was announced that bwin.party had applied for an online gaming licence for the state of New Jersey in July, and on 8 November had been awarded a transactional waiver that allows it to participate in the online gaming market in the state by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, prior to a full licence being granted. The group launched both poker and casino games under the land-based casino licence of its New Jersey partner, Borgata Casino, the launch included both Borgata's and its own brands, including partypoker.com. By the end of December, the new partypoker site had acquired 50% of the cash game traffic in New Jersey.
World Poker Tour in the debut season of its television show contributed to the global boom in online poker, pioneering the "hole card" format that allows viewers to see player's cards.
World Poker Tour programming has been broadcast in over 150 countries and territories, and about two dozen World Poker Tour main events are held from London to Las Vegas across the globe. Additional regional and national events are held, with smaller buy-ins.
The World Poker Tour brand extends across various digital platforms, with its ClubWPT subscription poker and "insiders' club" offering monthly cash prizes; a Facebook poker application that is among the five largest on the platform; and a mobile poker product that has been downloaded nearly 20 million times. In addition, the brand can be found on everything from clothing to magazines to training courses to lottery tickets.
Following the acquisition of Cashcade in 2009, bwin.party have become market leaders in bingo. This has been achieved mainly through the B2C portfolio of lead brands including Foxy Bingo, PartyBingo and CheekyBingo.
Cashcade was the first company to promote online bingo to a mass market via television advertising and was first to develop the "free bingo" concept to attract new customers. Bwin began offering bingo at the end of December 2009 when its Italian subsidiary, Gioco Digitale, launched bingo as the first authorised Italian private online gaming operator. As a result, they are market leaders in two regulated markets – Italy and the UK.
Bwin recently sponsored football giants Real Madrid, AC Milan and Bayern Munich and more recently Olympique de Marseille. In October 2010, Bwin announced a sponsorship for the upcoming three football seasons in which they will be the title sponsor of the Portuguese League Cup - in future named "Bwin Cup". Italy's second tier Serie B has already been re-branded "Serie bwin" after a two-year sponsorship deal was signed in July 2010.
On the 16 August 2012, bwin announced it was entering into a digital partnership with Manchester United F.C to become the club's official online gaming and betting partner.
In the past, many other top events in the international and local sports world were supported by the corporation. Bwin also sponsored the Portuguese first football league (bwinLIGA) and has been partner to clubs such as Juventus Turin and Werder Bremen.
Bwin cooperates with the International Basketball Association (FIBA) and has been sponsoring the European and World Basketball Championships since 2006. A second basketball sponsorship is Euroleague Basketball. Bwin's marketing and media rights agreement for Euroleague events runs until June 2014.
In the area of motorsport, the company is one of the main sponsors of the MotoGP series. In 2012, Bwin is the title sponsor of the races in Jerez and GP in Brno and official partner of the Misano, Mugello and Silverstone. In December 2011, bwin announced it would be extending their Moto GP sponsorships through to 2013.
In addition, Bwin organises numerous poker events both online and offline. One of the biggest regular online tournaments is the ChampionChip. Special poker tournaments like the Weekly Country Showdown or the Bwin Dailies offer a range of tournaments adjusted to country specifics and buy-in levels. Periodically there are launched new types and variations of Sit & Go's. Via several online qualifiers the Bwin user can qualify for offline events like the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the Aussie Millions and events on the World Poker Tour, with the results reported at the official Bwin Poker Blog. For "poker newbies" Bwin offers the Rookie Challenge where a new poker player has the chance to climb up several stages for free to earn real money tickets.
The company have faced some opposition in Europe over sponsorship of sports, especially football. In 2006 Bremen banned its top football team, Sportverein Werder Bremen, from carrying the Bwin logo on its shirts.
In January 2014, the company announced major sponsorship deals with the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers. The combined deals include major advertising to the fans of both teams and the creation of the Dream Seat Series, which is a series of online poker tournaments offering ticket packages to winners and other prizes to runner-ups before every home game.