The chief executive officer of the UK-based Remote Gambling Association, Clive Hawkswood, was in bullish mood during an interview this week with the Reuters news agency, predicting that European gambling groups should return an average growth of ten percent in 2009.
Hawkswood's view was preceded earlier in the week by the projections of the respected Global Betting and Gaming Consultants company, which revealed that online gambling gross gambling yield passed the $20 million benchmark in 2008 and that a resilient industry continues to perform strongly going into 2009 (see previous InfoPowa report).
The Remote Gambling Association is a good barometer of the Internet gambling market in Europe, comprised as it is of leading European gambling groups handling much of the Internet business in the region.
Hawkswood told Reuters that Europe's online gambling groups should buck the economic downturn with around 10 percent growth in revenues this year. "The online betting market is coping very well with the slowdown and is bucking the trend," he said. "The main thing that we still have going for us is that our markets are still growing and our markets are very diverse."
Last month, Britain's top two bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill both posted a rise in profits, and the latter has made no secret of its intention to ramp up Internet activity. Paddy Power similarly announced that Internet revenues had made up 70 percent of its operating profit.
Hawkswood said his members, which also include Unibet, 888.com and Paddy Power, were not completely immune from the worst financial crisis in nearly 80 years and were making adjustments to their businesses.
"Projections from 12 months to 18 months ago are certainly not the same, but if you compare this to other industries, the online gambling industry can still expect to do very well," Hawkswood said. "I would expect to see growth for the industry of around 10 percent this year."
The executive said that many punters are switching to the Internet, forcing traditional high street betting shops to close. "There is a general trend of moving from traditional outlets to online operators. Online betting has less overheads and costs for both the operator and consumer," Hawkswood continued, citing the convenience of the Internet as an important advantage.
Forecasting that the online gambling industry should maintain its resilience as the impact of the recession spreads into the real economy, Hawkswood concluded: "Betting is not an expensive hobby. Stakes are small and affordable. People will continue to have a flutter even when times are tough."
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