Q&A: Bwin.party

Sport Business News

At the time of writing, one prolific gaming sponsor in European sport, bwin, had just completed a multi–billion pound merger with PartyGaming, to form bwin.party. Bwin's sponsorship deals over the last seven years have included partnerships with AC Milan, FIBA, MotoGP, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. In this Q&A, MEI catches up with Bwin.party company spokesman John Shepherd to talk corruption, technology and sponsorship.

Do you think that there is more corruption in sport (related to betting) these days (perhaps due to the growth in online betting and spread betting in particular), or just that cases are being reported on more than previously? (ie has sport always been a bit murky where gambling is concerned and/or always will be? )" There is no evidence that would lead us to conclude that this is the case: to the contrary, modern technology is a powerful tool that can be used to detect and prevent fraud. Technology also provides considerably higher transparency: the fact that each individual click is being tracked and analysed from a security perspective creates numerous new technological opportunities for preventing any attempts to commit sport–related fraud. Sophisticated real time alert engines, which are based on 'expert systems', and advanced technical fingerprinting and pattern matching technologies collectively provide an effective detection radar to look out for any irregular betting patterns. " How important is for bwin. party digital entertainment to work closely with sports properties directly (either as sponsors or offering them services to help their events reach betting audiences)? " The bwin sports betting operation has a long history of close cooperation with the sports industry. Over the past seven years it has sponsored a number of blue–chip sports properties like AC Milan, FIBA, MotoGP, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich with great benefit for all parties. Sports and sports betting share common interests and can support each–others development while working jointly to promote integrity. In addition, bwin. party's business strategy includes developing long–term partnerships with sports organisations, because if you are betting on sports then you should have very strong ties with sports, and not only professional sports but also grass roots sports. While associating itself with other leading brands in the sports business and also supporting well–established events, bwin. party is strengthening its own bwin sports betting brand. " Do you consider the increase in relationships between sports properties and gaming brands to be a sign that sport is more open towards gambling and/or a bit savvier about getting a slice of the gambling pie, or just that they need to find revenue from somewhere due to sponsors from other sectors pulling out? " No sports equals no sports betting, so for this simple reason sponsorship has an important role to play at bwin. party. Professional sport relies highly on high–end sponsorships. The development of a successful international gaming industry generated a new and important revenue stream for the sports industry. Over the last three years the gaming industry spent more than é¼300m in sponsorship activities in football only in Europe and more than é¼650m per year in marketing/communication activities around sports. The gaming industry is already one of the top three sectors in European sports sponsorship and is likely to become one of if not the most important financial support for professional sports. " What has been bwin's business model for offering streaming of sports events directly to its customers (does it buy the rights directly from the sports or offer the sports a cut of revenue? )" bwin. party acquires streaming rights via media agencies, sports associations and sponsoring rights. Today it offers more than 1, 300 hours of live streaming events per month, substantially contributing to the promotion of the respective competitions and to the development of the underlying sport. Federations not only benefit financially from their broadcasting rights, but also through the additional public exposure which helps to increase the value of on–site advertisement spaces. This particularly applies to minority sports, which in the past were heavily dependent on cross–financing from football. " With PartyGaming (and bwin's) sponsorships past and present, how pleased have you been with the outcomes in terms of helping you reach new customers and what have the benefits been to the sports events and clubs etc themselves through partnering with you? " The relationship between the pre–merger bwin sports betting operation and sports properties it has sponsored has been one of mutual benefit and great success. It helped bwin develop its business and enhance its brand image, and sports properties support the investments required for their future success, increase fans' attention and obtain additional public exposure. " Finally, where do you see the relationship between sport and the betting industry headed? Will larger or more crown–jewel type sports start offering video of their events to gaming companies for their punters to bet on for example? Could sports ever become their own bookmakers? " There is no doubt that the amount of video content delivered through multiple channels is increasing and raising awareness of its commercial potential. Media convergence on the web, talked about for years, has happened and is continuing to evolve at a rapid rate – the supply of sports video content can only but increase. We believe that sports associations should never be their own bookmakers, apart from tote systems like those that exist for horse racing. )","43

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