win.party Digital Entertainment PLC said it would seek to give its poker products a makeover to halt declining revenues in the game and see off competition from a resurgent PokerStars.
The world's largest online gaming group reported first half earnings up 13 percent to 92 million euros on Friday, slightly ahead of market expectations, as strong takings from sports and casino betting offset the weakness in poker and increased taxes.
It said average net daily revenues in July and August were down 8 percent versus the second quarter, affected by a later that usual start to the German football league - delayed due to the timing of the London Olympics - but that it remained confident on its full year result.
Bwin, which launched in Spain in 2012 after internet betting was allowed there for the first time, said economic woes in southern Europe had also had an impact.
"It has been difficult for us, the two markets that have been most challenging have been Italy and Spain. Last year we saw a significant dip in Greece but actually Greece now seems to be levelling out a bit," said Chief Financial Officer Martin Weigold on a call to journalists.
Faced with declining poker revenues across Europe, bwin said it would focus on renewing its poker products, aiming to do more to attract and keep casual players and introducing mobile poker games.
"We believe we have to differentiate ourselves in this market and to make sure we pick up our share and remain competitive especially against a backdrop of an ever strengthening PokerStars," said co-CEO Jim Ryan.
Earlier this month, popular online poker firm PokerStars settled a fraud complaint with U.S. authorities, setting the stage for it to re-enter the U.S. market.
"There is a lot of work going on under the bonnet at bwin.party but much of this is being overshadowed by regulatory developments and structural challenges in the poker market," said analysts at Peel Hunt. "There doesn't appear to be a need to rush in," the broker said, maintaining its 'hold' on the stock."