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Bwin online betting operator reports €540 mln losses

Legislative changes in the United States caused dramatic losses for Vienna-based online betting operator bwin, the company said on Thursday.

For 2006 bwin Interactive Entertainment AG reported losses after tax and minority interests of €539.6 million ($732.9 million), for the most part due to losses within its US business. In 2005, bwin reported profits of €6.4 million. Operative results of the bwin fell to minus €587.5 million, compared to €7.7 million in 2005. The company reported an EBITDA loss of €7.0 million, compared with a profit of €15.09 million for 2005. The signing of the US-Safe Port Act in October 2006 led to the cessation of business in the United States. “bwin took an impairment charge of €515.1 million due to the non-cash depreciation of the customer base and goodwill as a result of the bwin Games acquisition,” the company said. At the same time bwin met 'increased resistance' by betting monopolies in several European countries. As a result, the company said it would refocus on its core-business of sports betting and poker in already established markets. In September 2006, CEOs Norbert Teufelberger and Manfred Bodner were arrested at a press conference in France, due to offences against the French gambling laws and held in custody for three days. In 2006, bwin reported gross gaming revenues of €381.8 million from €144 million in 2005 from its sports betting, poker, casino and games operations. (