“We remain ardent believers in the growth opportunities for online gaming”
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Julia Boguslawski VP- Investor Relations & Corporate Communications of Shuffle Master.
Why did you decide to withdraw from your proposed acquisition of bwin.party's Ongame poker network?
At the time we signed the tentative agreement in March, we believed that market conditions in Europe and the sales pipeline would support our decision. However, business conditions in Europe have since deteriorated significantly and it became apparent that Ongame’s operations post-acquisition would not achieve the near-term results we initially anticipated. The timing of the legalization of online poker in the US was also factored into our decision to terminate the agreement; though we believe online poker will eventually open up throughout the U.S., there is no set timeline for when key markets will open. We are disappointed in the outcome, but we believe this was the right thing to do for the Company and it's shareholders.
In no way does our decision not to proceed with Ongame mean that we’re not focused on the online space; in fact, quite the opposite. Just this week the Nevada Gaming Commission granted us the third unrestricted interactive gaming license in the United States. We remain ardent believers in the growth opportunities for online gaming and continue to invest in our own state-of-the-art content platform, which capitalizes on our industry-leading portfolio of Proprietary Table Games. We haven’t ruled out online poker either; we are currently considering other alternatives for providing a business-to-business online poker product.
What will happen now with your partnership with Bally and Ongame Networks?
The strategic alliance was between Ongame and both Bally/Aristocrat. We can't answer on behalf of Bally and/or Aristocrat but the fact that we're not moving forward with the Ongame acquisition does not necessarily mean that the strategic alliance wouldn't still be in effect. Bally and Aristocrat can best speak to their plans though.
Are you interested in another poker network? Is it a core part of Shuffle Master's strategy?
We are actively reviewing potential purchases and developing our own online offerings. We will continue to look for opportunities to achieve our growth objectives in the online space, including leveraging and protecting our strong intellectual property and brands, and will investigate all prospects – both organic and acquisitive – that make strategic and financial sense.
What are your plans regarding the online gaming arena? Are you a company merely b2b or our business covers the b2c segment too?
Our strategy online is the same strategy we have always pursued and is consistent with our mission statement. Our overarching mission is to make our customers more profitable, period. And by customers we specifically employ a B2B (casinos, operators) focus, not direct to player (B2C). We achieve this a number of ways, such as providing products that enhance efficiency and security, in addition to creating compelling content and entertainment that resonates with players. This will continue to be our strategy online – every interactive initiative we are pursuing is designed first and foremost to service our customers’ needs.