Apparently our good friends across the pond are a bit more optimistic about the notion of the US opening its online gambling market in 2010 than we are … and in preparation, the buzz around England is that Betfair — the British online poker-and-more company and title sponsor of WSOP-Europe — is getting serious about making an estimated Â£1.5 billion ($2.5 billion) initial public offering.
The intent would be to raise capital in preparation for all sorts of crazy consolidation and forthcoming acquisitions in the online gambling sector.
At least one Betfair exec dismisses the talk as little more than speculation, despite meetings with Credit Suisse and other banking advisors that have the European financial press getting their knickers in a bunch as “companies seek to position themselves to enter the world’s biggest gambling market.” Should the rumored floatation happen, it would be the first major listing on the London Stock Exchange since the global economic collapse.
At the same time, Betfair last week made another move toward American soil by pledging $400,000 to the New York (Horse) Racing Association as an overlay should two specific horses face off against each other in October at Belmont Park:
Rachel Alexandra, the first filly to win the second leg of horse racingâ€™s Triple Crown since 1924, has won her last eight races. Zenyatta is undefeated in 12 career starts, including the 2008 Breedersâ€™ Cup Ladies Classic.
LOL, I didn’t even realize they had ladies events in horse racing!
Across the Chunnel: Refashioning French Poker
Betfair also just got themselves approved to enter France’s online gambling market, which is set to open next year … apparently with some nice poker-friendly alterations to the rake. (The new French law originally had players paying tax on every bet and raise, on every street … which can totally screw with your pot-odds calculations!) Helping get Betfair to the front of the French licensing line, with a better rake structure no less? Heavy lobbying efforts from billionaire bling merchant Bernard Arnault, CEO of Louis Vuitton, 10 percent owner of Betfair, and the 15th richest person in the world.
New-and-improved Yahoo! Poker Coming Soon
We’re talking Yahoo! Uk & Ireland, of course, not Yahoo! USA. The British arm of the web behemoth just re-upped its partnership with GTech G2, for two years, to provide real-money gaming options — and part of that deal includes plans to unveil a fully downloadable real-money Yahoo! poker room, not just the (lame) in-browser version currently available.
Magazine Moguls Jump into Mobile Gambling
PartyGaming CEO Jim Ryan recently said that the biggest threat to established online gaming brands comes from major media outlets, not current competitors. And sure enough … Dennis Publishing — the mega-magazine company behind Maxim, MacUser, Computer Shopper, Bizarre, Men’s Fitness, and more than a dozen other publications (including PokerPlayer, Inside Poker Business, and Stacked) — just launched its Monkey Mobile Casino, offering real-money online gambling on handheld devices. (The current issue of Monkey, fwiw, features a picture of Lady Gaga’s recent nipple slip.
The Swedish Taxman Cometh
Meanwhile, the Swedish Tax Authority (Skatteverket) has been studying all forms of internet commerce tax evasion since 2007, and has concluded that online poker companies with offshore servers are one of their biggest sources of uncollected e-commerce taxes.