32Red prepares for Italy casino launch

32Red Casino will go live in the regulated Italian online gambling market early in the fourth quarter of 2012, it confirmed today.

The Microgaming-powered casino “will commence marketing activity in Italy during the second half of the year” to support the launch, with poker and bingo to follow at a later date.

CEO Ed Ware said: “[W]e look forward to utilising our Italian licence to expand the profile of the brand and to grow the business in another regulated market.”

32Red, which currently generates 75% of its business from the UK, received an online gaming licence from Italian regulator AAMS in March of this year. Online slot games are set to launch in the ringfenced dot.it market from 3 December, following that of casino table games such as blackjack and roulette last July. Land-based slots are the favourite gambling choice of Italians, representing more than half of the €80bn spent on gambling last year.

32Red’s entry into the Italian online gambling market, largely dominated by local incumbents with the exception of PokerStars, follows that of fellow London-listed companies 888, William Hill and Paddy Power, as well as privately owned Tombola. Paddy Power last week claimed 4% market share of regulated Italian sports betting turnover in June, its first full month of operation, while William Hill and 888 commanded respective shares of 6.6% and 4.9% of total revenues from the country’s casino table games market. Tombola grew its share of revenue from the dot.it bingo market to 11.4%.

32Red this morning posted first-half earnings (EBITDA) of £1.7m, 12% up on the £1.5m generated a year earlier, off a previously reported 50% rise in revenue to £16.5m. The company credited “[t]he continued acceleration in the growth of our player base” on the back of increased investment in marketing its core casino product, which represented 88% of total group revenues in the six months to the end of June 2012. Active casino players were up 81% year-on-year to 31,722 and new casino players 93% to 18,724, boosted by initiatives such as the brand’s shirt sponsorship of English Premier League club Swansea City and increased TV ad spend.

The strong trading performance also continued into July and August, with revenues up 22% on the comparable period last year “despite the excitement and distraction of the Olympic Games”, added a bullish Ware.

Casino Choice journalist

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