Online gambling companies "coming together" at EiG

12 October 2006

"One thing you need to realize is that this industry has always been under siege and probably always will be," said Sue Schneider, CEO of River City Group in her welcoming remarks to attendees of the European I-Gaming Congress and Exhibition (EiG) Wednesday morning.

More than 1,000 delegates are in attendance at the Clarion Events ATE/River City Group produced event this week where the theme is "coming together."

Staggering problems have lately emerged on both sides of the Atlantic for the global companies that deal in the interactive gambling space. On one side European Member States have begun taking more aggressive actions to prevent foreign companies from offering Internet gambling services to their citizens, while on the other the American government has passed legislation aimed at prohibiting most forms of Internet gambling altogether.

Things are complicated further by the fact that several online gambling companies listed shares on public stock exchanges in 2005 and 2006. The listings were hailed as a means to bring more credibility and transparency to the companies, but ironically those that listed now face problems that their private rivals may be able to sidestep-- if they dare.

"There are personal risks and there are corporate concerns, and you have to be aware of how those color decisions," said Schneider.

In the last two weeks several of the publicly-traded firms such as PartyGaming and 888 responded to the American prohibition by shutting down their operations to American consumers. Most of the private firms on the other hand are taking a wait-and-see approach to the American prohibition and may be hoping it will prove unenforceable.

Although expansion in Europe has been a goal in which a lot of online gambling companies have succeeded in 2006, Member State governments would prefer to put an end to the expansion so that their own domestic operators can dominate the market.

Following Schneider on the program was Norbert Teufelberger, one of the co-CEO's of European betting giant who was arrested in France last month on charges related to offering betting to French citizens without a proper license.

Tuefelberger echoed EiG's underlying theme of "coming together" by revealing that his company was working with others to formulate a two-year lobbying and public relations campaign. "We will bring information to the decision-makers," he stated.

Schneider noted in her remarks that a number of regulators from EU governments and representatives from state-run companies are attendance. No American regulators are in attendance.

When asked later that evening about her impression of what was going on at the conference Schneider replied: "There is a lot of discussion among the delegates about what sort of changes may need to take place among their companies and how they're going to handle that sort of thing."

Related Links
European iGaming Congress & Expo (EiG) 2006
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