hat's your balance for the first two quarters of 2010?
Because Alsart Group doesn’t trade its shares in the equity market, we have not published its balance sheets yet. However, I can say that the first half of 2010 pleased us - we have got significant growth of alternative gambling directions of the companies belonging to our Group. These are the projects allowed by law regarding Russian gambling zones and lottery projects at a federal level, as well as trading and financial betting. And we are very optimistic about the results of 2010. If the situation with the gambling business regulation in Ukraine and the lottery business in Russia develops according to our forecasts, Alsart Group turnover will increase approximately three times by the end of the year.
Which are Alsart Group’s expectations and main objectives for the coming months?
The cancelling of the gambling ban in Ukraine is the most important expectation for us. With the opening of legal gambling market, Ukraine has all chances to become the Eastern- European Las Vegas. Kiev is a one-hour flight from Moscow and has a developed entertainment industry; it is a place which is always a pleasure to visit. Ukrainian gambling business was estimated at us$ 1, 8 billion before the closing. Now, that figure should be significantly higher because of the neighborhood with Russia, where gambling has also been banned for almost a year (except for 4 distant and, in fact, inactive zones).
We assumed that situation’s development a year ago. So by diversifying the business, we kept both our established business connections with the owners of the closed slot halls and casinos in Ukraine and the delivery and technical support infrastructure. Now we are preparing the opening of our sales and operating office in Kiev and intend to capture, together with our business partners, up to 60% of the re-opening of the Ukrainian gambling market.
Such plans may seem too ambitious, but we have reasons for that. After a year of ban, the country market is in fact empty for legal casinos and slot halls: ex major operators have left the Ukrainian market with heavy losses because of the government actions, new small operators do not have sufficient experience in the gambling business, they don’t have technology, and there are no adapted spaces. Today, not many people in Ukraine understand the real situation, and most important - the willingness and resources for large-scale business development in new conditions. We and our partners have it. We are ready to capture this market.
Alsart Group has also other plans for 2010: projects in the gambling zones in Russia and participation in the Olympic lottery project Sochi 2014. Furthermore, we expect that the problem of the online casino regulation in Russia and Ukraine is solved this year.
Which are the main characteristics of your products?
Today, Alsart Group actively develops its lottery direction - the “NovoloT” project. This is a unique lottery that has no analogues in Russia. In this lottery, winnings are defined at the time of purchasing the lottery ticket, and after the run. Within the framework of the project, we are opening the lottery centers under the brand «NovoloT» in Moscow and other Russian cities, and we also manufacture and supply specialized lottery terminals «NovoloT».
Technical parameters are not the main characteristics of this product. The key point is that the «NovoloT» terminals and lottery by itself fully comply with the current Russian legislation. It's no secret that after the closure of casinos and slot halls in 2009 in Russia, pseudo-lottery halls with slot machines began to appear, disguised as lottery terminals. The authorities fight with such institutions, but as long as ex-visitors of casinos do not get an alternative, "lottery" halls and other illegal gambling houses will continue to arise.
«NovoloT» is a solution, which aimed at forcing the illegal gambling business in accordance with the policy of the President of Russia. We’ve managed to make the participation process in the lottery fun, enjoyable and remarkable event, similar by its emotional feelings to the game on the slot machines.
Have you scheduled the launch of other products for the near future?
Today Alsart is more focused on the operation, delivery of equipment of foreign manufacturers and technical service. The production of «NovoloT» lottery terminals is quite enough. Today, the opening of the new lottery centers under the brand «NovoloT» is a priority for us in Russia. And also - starting services in trading sector (Forex, CFD, etc.) and the opening of poker clubs.
Have you closed new distribution or sales deals recently? What do they consist of?
As I said above, we expect a cancellation of gambling ban in Ukraine in the near future; we are opening an «Aurora» trading office there, and we are preparing to take a dominant share of the gaming equipment supplies for the Ukrainian market. We are already negotiating with major foreign manufacturers of gaming equipment on behalf of their interests in Ukraine and in Russia (to supply equipment for the gaming zones). Also we meet with customers. I must say that we have a lot of orders in Ukraine, but so far these are pre-orders for gambling equipment - everybody is waiting for the fact of the cancellation of the gambling ban in Ukraine.
In which trade fair’s will you participate this year?
RGW, G2E and IGE. The nearest exhibition - forum Russian Gaming Week (EELEX) 2010 is the most interesting for us now. This is the main industry event for the CIS markets, where we operate. Despite the current legal situation, they have a really high potential. Especially, in anticipation of the ban’s cancellation on gambling activities in Ukraine.
How do you see the industry in Latin America and other main territories this year?
Markets changes, somewhere more, somewhere less, some markets opens, and some of them close. Laws, requirements and regulations of the authorities’ change. In my opinion, there is no such a rapid development of the gambling industry in the whole world, which we have seen, about 5 years ago. All markets are generally still in stagnation and only “came to life” after the crisis. The major markets for Alsart Group for the next 2-3 years are Ukraine and Russia.