Online gambling already has a place on the London Stock Exchange, and this trend is set to continue boldly as worldwide acceptance of internet gaming increases. The UK online gambling site Betfair is considering a stock float of £1.5 billion in 2010. Founders Andrew Black and Ed Wray, who own 25% of the firm will then realize £375 million, and are likely to sell some of their holdings if the stock increases as expected after the offering.
Another big financial move in the online casino business is the upcoming merger between PartyGaming PLC and Bwin Interactive Entertainment. This will create the world’s largest online wagering empire, leading the market in casino, games, sports betting, and poker. Shareholders of both the entities have approved of the merger, and the deal is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2011, and the resulting company will be traded on the London Stock Exchange. Before the merger, the companies combined had net gaming revenues in 2009 of 682 million euros.
PartyGaming is based in Gibralter, and Bwin is based in Austria. After the merger, Bwin’s assets and liabilities will transfer to PartyGaming, and the new joint company will be based in Gibralter and at that time will be de-listed from the Vienna Stock Exchange.
The merger of these two online gaming giants is likely to prompt more mergers and acquisitions, particularly when coupled with a worldwide trend of relaxing gambling laws.
Another trend that is likely to improve the fortunes of the internet gaming industry is the increase in the use of mobile devices for online wagering. The value of the mobile online gaming sub-sector is valued at around $20 billion (US) in 2010, and that value is expected to grow rapidly in 2011.
Currently, the main thing holding back the impending surge in mobile gaming is that mobile device brands and media owners are waiting on various international legalities of online gambling to work themselves out, particularly in the US, which would represent an enormous market if legislation is passed by the US Congress clarifying the legal status of online casinos in the US.
Nevertheless, some companies are developing and testing mobile platforms in anticipation of growth in the market, and the UK has led the way in this effort. Other areas of the world expected to contribute significantly to the growing market in mobile internet gambling include Europe as a whole, which currently makes up 37% of the market. The Asia-Pacific region makes up nearly 40% of the market. The biggest contributors to the fortunes of mobile gambling in terms of games are expected to be lotteries, with sports betting coming in second, and casino gaming following in third place.