Bwin, an Austrain-based online sports betting company, just issued a press release announcing its intentions to head for the Americas. Right now 96% of the group’s business is done in Europe, but they are working on hard a new global expansion strategy. The sportsbook will first set up shop in several South American nations, but is also getting ready to enter the United States “when the market is liberalised again shortly”.
The group is especially anxious to offer internet betting in the United States. “We are in talks with possible partners from the casino and media areas; we want to start by 2011 at the latest,” Chief Executive Norbert Teufelberger told the Austrian daily Kurier. The company is hopeful that US gambling regulation will soon change.
Bwin has had its eye on the US internet sports betting market for some time. Back in 2006 the group spent $680 to acquire the Swedish poker room Ongame, only to watch American gambling laws change right under their feet, with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) effectively banning online poker and keeping Bwin from targeting US players. Teufelberger says that they have had several offers for Ongame, but are not interested in selling – the brand is too-well positioned in the US to let go.
While the European sports betting market is booming, Bwin sees more potential for expansion in the US. The EJC has yet to decide where it stands on state gambling monopolies and their relationship with cross-border internet gambling, which has left some markets like Germany and Portugal difficult to compete in. The US, on the other hand, will be ripe for the picking if and when they liberalize their online gambling market. Until then, Bwin is standing at the ready.