UK-traded gambling operator Bwin.party announced this week its 2014 earnings will come in short of previous estimates, citing “exceptionally weak gross win margin in sports betting” as the primary culprit.
While bet volumes and player participation rates held steady, the company says unpredicted wagering results in favor of gamblers greatly reduced earnings in December.
Although the digital entertainment company won’t release its bottom line statistics until March, Bwin said investors should expect total revenues to be in the $730 to $734 million range, down from previous estimates of $742 to $756 million.
Headquartered in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar and traded on the London Stock Exchange, Bwin.party shares fell more than four percent following the news to â‚¬112.90 ($135.57).
Despite Bwin singling out sports betting as one area chiefly responsible for the lagging returns, card rooms continue to disappoint in New Jersey. In November, earnings from Internet poker fell to $1 million split among all legalized operators in the Garden State.
Partnered with the Borgata, Bwin’s web-based poker rooms will cost the company more than $12 million in 2014. Over 500,000 residents have opened online gambling accounts, but the market hasn’t posted a gain large enough to support its operating costs since last August.
Jason Ader, a Las Vegas Sands Corporation board member who put himself at odds with Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson by acquiring six percent of all Bwin shares, was quick to respond to the lower-than-expected numbers.
In an email Ader says Bwin’s management executives “should be embarrassed by these results given the strong performance of Bwin’s peers… The time for change at Bwin is long overdue.”
Change appears to be on the horizon. Following Bwin’s gloomy revenues announcement, the company disclosed it is currently “in active discussions” in trying to sell its social gaming division, Win.com.
Although just over two years old and still considered an optimistic market to some, the platform has largely underperformed and has cost Bwin nearly $8.5 million over the past 12 months.
Rumors include Amaya Gaming as a potential suitor to acquiring Win.com as PokerStars looks to diversify by including sports betting and social gaming by the end of 2015.
Playtech, another Internet gaming company traded on the London Stock Exchange, is also thought to be interested, but the frontrunner might be a New York-based gaming startup founded by former Zynga exec Maytal Olsha. Her RisingTideGames is believed to be another leading candidate for the takeover.
As Bwin looks to cut its losses and move forward, poker players in America might be weary about the game’s future stateside.
Currently the market leader in Jersey, should Bwin further consolidate its business by selling or eliminating its partnership with the Borgata, deficient poker rooms could become nearly desolate.
Considering PartyPokerNJ also shares the same player pool as Borgata, keeping Bwin active and profitable might be more vital to the overall health of Internet poker in the United States than most likely realize.