SOFIA (Bulgaria), September 9 (SeeNews) – Bulgaria's entertainment and sports betting industry needs an improved regulatory oversight to ensure a level playing-field and fair competition, the top executives of local sports betting company Eurofootball told SeeNews in a recent interview.
Eurofootball is 49%-owned by Greek gaming systems and solutions provider Intralot, a subsidiary of IT solutions provider Intracom. It offers 10,000 betting opportunities in 20 non-Olympic sports in two draws per week. The gaming company (www.eurofootball.bg) is a regular member of the World Lottery Association, the European Lotteries and Toto Association and the UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Here is what Mariela Zamfirova and Nikolaos Arsenopoulos said:
Q: Has the financial crisis affected your business?
M.Z.: When there is a crisis, its effects spill all over. It affects individuals, society as a whole and business. As regards the entertainment industry in particular, it's not an exception. In times of economic stagnation, consumers retrench their spending. Statistics show a falling consumption not only of goods but also of services. This is an indication that the customer is trimming his entertainment expenses to some extent. However, any crisis creates many new opportunities.
Q: What is your forecast for the development of the industry over the longer term?
M.Z.: We expect protection to be afforded to the local market for legal entertainment services. As you know Internet gambling operators in Bulgaria are not subject to any licensing requirements and this allows them to expatriate a significant amount of untaxed money. In the mean time, bookmakers Eurofootball pay a 10% corporate income tax. The company is not just a large taxpayer but also a responsible corporate member of society. It has been sponsoring many professional and amateur sporting events for 16 years now while engaging in large-scale charity work and funding youth-focused initiatives promoting a healthy lifestyle and meaningful leisure pursuits. Eurofootball is a main sponsor of Bulgarian sports and a major partner of Bulgarian football in almost all of its sports events. The company also encourages the development of small businesses in Bulgaria through a network of bookmaker's offices across the country and is a major distributor of the state lottery under a deal which was the first ever partnership between a state-run and a private gambling operator.
Q: What challenges lie ahead for the sector?
N.A.: The challenges the industry is facing are regulation-related and have to do with providing for the equal treatment of all market players - those who have built proprietary networks, like Eurofootball, and also those like the Internet gambling operators which face no licensing or tax requirements in Bulgaria. When the competition is fair and companies in the industry are equally treated, they will be encouraged to reinvest their profits in innovation and new jobs and to keep revenues in the country. Furthermore, there should be a guaranteed transparency and lawfulness in the industry so that clients' interests can be protected.
Q: Do you plan further expansion of your media business?
N.A.: Eurofootball runs four communication channels – a corporate website, www.eurofootball.bg, an information TV channel Eurofootball, a specialised newspaper Eurofootball and the country's biggest point-of-sale network. We recently opened two of the formats – the newspaper and the TV channel, to advertisers. We believe this will help their development. We constantly invest in improving their quality in order to better satisfy the needs of the participants in the games organised by Eurofootball.
Q: Do you plan to enter markets abroad?
M.Z.: In times like these, everybody is planning and mulling new potential opportunities that could be explored and executed after the crisis. Eurofootball has already offered several new attractive betting options early this year, we are finalising work on several other innovations that will be ready for commercial duty shortly. But the main priority of the company is to enrich its product portfolio, to guarantee a good service and to retain its position as the preferred Bulgarian bookmaker of both the state and the market participants.
Q: What are your forecasts about Eurofootball's financial performance this year and in the longer run?
N.A.: Of course, our expectations are positive. The company is financially stable, has a leading market position and is becoming ever more flexible and efficient. We strive to offer variety so that our clients are satisfied. As regards the financial performance of our company, we can say that it will be very close to last year’s results but we consider this to be a temporary aberration related to the financial crisis that will not affect the company’s development dynamics. In the long run, Eurofootball will continue to offer not only attractive and diversified services, but also an experience of a unique kind. Our ambition is to provide our clients with the best place where they can meet, have fun and network socially.