Landry’s Inc., owner of the Golden Nugget casinos, hired Thomas Winter, a former head of Gibraltar-based gaming website Betclic Ltd., to run its online business as the company prepares to start service this year.
Recruiting Winter, 39, will advance Houston-based Landry’s plan to introduce Internet betting in New Jersey and Nevada as early as this year, Steve Scheinthal, executive vice president and general counsel for the firm, said in an interview.
U.S. casino operators are tapping European executives to draw on their expertise in an industry that is legally established in 10 countries. Online gambling generated almost $13.8 billion in revenue last year in Europe, and the U.S. market, led by Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, could expand to $7.4 billion by 2017, according to H2 Gaming Capital.
Winter, who will be vice president of online gaming, spent four years at Betclic serving as chief operating officer then chief executive officer, as it expanded to $200 million in revenue from $20 million over three years, according to Landry’s. He moved to Expekt.com, a Scandinavian online gaming operator before it merged with Betclic.
As part of its online push, Landry’s Golden Nugget said today that it is partnering with Bally Technologies Inc. (BYI:US) to provide Internet gaming products and support. Las Vegas-based Bally last year acquired the online gaming business of Chiligaming, a company with offices in France, the U.K. and Malta.
“They had the experience with gaming in Europe and we didn’t want to do business with someone who will compete against us here,” Scheinthal said.
Among the markets where online gambling is legal in Europe, the British territory of Gibraltar is an attractive location because of its low taxation status.
New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the first three states to legalize online betting in the U.S. In New Jersey, online operators are required to partner with casinos located in the state. Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR:US), the largest owner of casinos in the U.S., plans to offer online games with Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings Plc. MGM Resorts International (MGM:US) and Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD:US) have partnered with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc (BPTY), also based in Gibraltar.
Collaborations and in some cases consolidations between European and U.S. gaming companies are likely to continue, according to David Berman, an investment banker with Macquarie Capital USA Inc. in Los Angeles.
“The Europeans are the only companies with real-money gaming online expertise on any scale -- yet the U.S. gaming operators have the gaming licenses, customer data bases and local knowledge,” he said.
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