Home Online bingo Intertain seeks to attract punters with online bingo

Intertain seeks to attract punters with online bingo


Bingo in Britain is a far cry from its origins in 14th century Italy or the salons of 17th century France where aristos played a form of gambling called Le Lotto. Here, working-class sororities play bingo in the hallways, marking their cards and barricading callers shouting numbers in their own patois: “Was she worth it?” Shouts a caller alluding to 76, supposed to be the cost of a marriage license. “Every penny,” chant the players, mostly women aged 55 and over (living snakes or a moldy beehive in bingo jargon).

However, the bingo halls are disappearing. The death knell was the smoking ban introduced in the UK ten years ago. Only some of the sisters have moved online.

The UK is the world’s largest online bingo market with around 3 million players, according to Intertain of Canada. Last year he agreed to pay up to £ 375million for Jackpotjoy, which is run by Cockney Sparrow Queen Barbara Windsor and claims to be the UK’s biggest bingo site. Today, the UK accounts for the bulk of Intertain’s revenue and is preparing to go on the London Stock Exchange next month. She hopes to be better heard by British investors than she has had in Canada. There, the shares are roughly five times the earnings forecast for December.

Intertain’s problem is that online bingo is a nascent market on the fringes of the gaming industry. Total online bingo revenue was around £ 130million last year, according to the UK Commission on Gambling. games of chance. This compares to revenues of £ 3.6 billion from all types of online betting and £ 12.6 billion from all forms of gambling – betting shops, racetracks, casinos, national lottery and others. And while online bingo is growing, it is not doing it as fast as other forms of online betting.

Online bingo is what is called a soft game, like the national lottery or scratch cards. Players are not big players. Most of them are women in their 30s, who put on a few pounds on a quick game while using the chat rooms.

There is nothing sweet about the business, however. There are hundreds of sites. The technology is relatively straightforward, says Andrew McIver, Managing Director of Intertain. The art is to create a buzz. His recipe for happiness is: “More people, more games, more interest and bigger jackpots”. Online bingo operators do not get rich by taking a share of the bingo winnings. The battle is to win new bettors at their desks or on the phone and persuade them to spend as much as possible in a matter of minutes on the sidebar casino games and scratch cards. But it is expensive to catch the attention of punters and soon loses it.

“You need a lot of nets in the water to catch more fish,” says Eitan Boyd, general manager of Stride Gaming, operator of Luckypants and Kitty Bingo.

The scrutiny of regulators and governments makes life more difficult. When the UK government imposed a consumption tax point on betting companies in 2014, many smaller competitors “were wiped out,” Boyd said. Stride took advantage of their misfortune. It now holds a tenth of the UK distance bingo market, having acquired 96 brands of bingo last year. For now, the bet is won. Last week, he said that a strong trade recently would increase revenue and profit before the bad guys for the year through August by 70%. The shares have risen 84 percent since their IPO last year, putting them on about 10 times next year’s earnings.

Mr McIver would give his eyes some teeth for the market to price Intertain this high. This is achievable, he says, for a group that has nearly 30 percent of the UK market and profit margins well above 30 percent. “We have critical mass and the full range of brands,” he says.

Still, he should be prepared for the disappointment. Tellingly, Intertain – or Jackpotjoy as it will be called when it goes listed in London – does not have the track record to qualify for a premium listing in the London market. Revenues may have risen from zero to C $ 384million in two years, but investors will need x-ray vision to see through stock issues and the £ 384million in debt raised to finance acquisitions.

Online bingo is an open market where growth is limited by demographics. It is as unlikely to make investors rich as those who play bingo. But at least the latter are playing for a laugh.

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