Bwin.com History aka Betandwin
Introduction to Bwin
Update: Last Updated June 8, 2010: See comments for details
Bwin is a public trading gambling operator on the Austrian stock market, essentially known as the world’s biggest publicly listed online gambling platform. Financials and other stuff can be found at the corportate bwin.org site. The company boasts a customer base of a staggering 20 million players from around the world who enjoy its wide range of gambling services, including poker, casino, games and sports betting, not completing the 4quads as I call them without Bingo games.
The group employs 1,400 people, with 800 based in Vienna alone. Gross gaming revenues for 2008 were recorded at €431 million, and 282 million bets were placed in the same year. The word ‘bwin’ is entered into internet search engines 2,240,000 times a day (reported 2009 by Google)!
Bwin began its life as a small start up coming in 1997, employing just 12 people and was initially known as betandwin.
First Internet Site – Betandwin
Betandwin launched its first online gambling site just one year after the company was founded, focusing on the growing sports betting market.
One of the most important developments in the history of betandwin was the launch of its live bet product, developed in house, allowing players to place bet on sporting events while the actual event is taking place.
Launch on the Stock Exchange
In March 2000, betandwin became the most successful initial public offering in the history of the Austrian Stock Exchange by raising capital of €55 million.
In June 2001, betandwin acquired Simon Bold (Gibraltar), which is now known as bwin International Ltd, essentially moving its operations to Gibraltar. The move was made to follow some of the company’s biggest rivals to the island.
By June 2005, betandwin was at its peak and ready to embark on a number of lucrative acquisitions that would expand its excellent brand even further. The group acquired betoto.com to expand its presence in the Greek market in June, a group which offers a fixed odds betting service to punters around the globe.
December of the same year marked another two major acquisitions – Ongame e-Solutions AB and global media rights outside of Germany to the Germany Football League. Gross gaming revenues from the latter totaled €144 million.
The purchase of Ongame was one of betandwin’s most important steps in its expansion plan. Ongame was founded in 1999 and launched real money games on its poker network in 2001. In 2004, PokerNetwork (which was renamed Ongame Network in 2005), was established and by the end of the year, eight sites – with 3.5 million registered players – were part of the network. In 2005, PokerRoom was appointed Poker Site of the Year and boasted 6 million players.
In 2006, bwin announced the acquisition of Ongame eSolutions AB, a move consistent with the group’s strategy to expand into the poker market. In the same year, Ongame eSolutions changed its name to bwin Games. The division of bwin develops high quality products via digital distribution channels for the group’s proprietarily owned brands.
The Bwin Brand Launched
In August 2006, the betandwin launched the new bwin brand. This was done after it was found that the betandwin brand, which was described as “descriptive, high-grade and functional”, was not suited anymore for the wide assortment of entertainment offerings covered by the company, including sports bet, poker, soft games, and casino games. “In the course of a two-year process, we succeeded in creating a communication basis by way of the transformation from BetandWin into the brand platform bwin, which covers a broad product portfolio,” said Mandred Bodner. “bwin is not only more generic and substantially easier to recharge emotionally, but also allows us to communicate still faster than in the past. bwin then becomes the right choice for an umbrella brand name in respect of all our requirements.”
Entering Italy’s Poker Market
In September 2009, bwin announced another very important acquisition – this time of Italy’s oldest online gaming site, Gioco Digitale. The 100% acquisition allowed bwin to enter the growing Italian poker for the price of €50 million in cash and 2.3 million bwin shares. At the time of the acquisition, Bodner said: “There are 60 to 70 people in Gioco Digitale and we would have had to build a team with that many people to be able to compete with the biggest poker sites in Italy. The time to market would have been too slow, the market penetration had to happen fast.”
One of the key aspects of bwin’s philosophy has been to sponsor quality sports events. The company sponsors top groups such as Real Madrid (2007) and AC Milan (2006) and is premium partner to FC Bayern Munich (October 2008). Moving away from soccer, bwin is also a well know sponsor for a number of MotoGP races.
In September 2009, bwin announced the extension of its sponsorship agreement for Real Madrid Football Club’s 2012-2013 season. At the time, the Chief Executive Officer of bwin, Manfred Brodner said: “We are proud to sponsor the greatest football club in the world.”
Bwin takes its corporate social responsibility very seriously and has a dedicated in house department to deal with any matters that fall under this issue. The company supports research in the field of gaming addiction with Harvard Medical School and is an active member of the European Gaming and Betting Association.
Bwin also founded the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) which campaigns strongly against fraud in the sports and betting arenas.
As one of the foremost gambling operators in the world, and certainly one of the biggest publicly trading service providers of its kind, bwin is certainly at the forefront of the industry. The company continues to expand into new markets and its powerful presence means that this is one group that will continue to play an active part in the gambling world for years to come. Word of possible Partygaming and Bwin mergers have even been talked about.
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