Thierry Henry may have done little to endear the Irish to France but as far as Setanta Sports and ChiliGaming are concerned, Franco-Irish relations couldn’t be any better.
The Irish television broadcaster has signed an exclusive agreement to launch an online gambling arm with the French gaming company.
SetantaBet.com will offer a full range of sports betting services to the Irish market in addition to online poker and casino from 1 February in a landmark deal for the company, which will become the first Irish broadcaster to enter the gaming market.
“This new partnership with ChiliGaming showcases the potential for a media organisation to target its own audience with its own gaming product,” said Setanta Sports co-founder Michael O’Rourke. “We believe that we can enhance the entertainment experience of our customers with premium sports and gaming products and we are confident that this will allow us to become a key player in the Irish gaming industry.
“Setantabet.com will share the Setanta Sports commitment to have a passionate, professional and impartial approach to sports. We select business partners who share the same values and goals as ourselves and we are delighted to be teaming up with ChiliGaming in this regard.”
It is a bold move from the Irish company, whose last high-profile venture, Setanta Sports GB, proved to be a unmitigated disaster, with the company going into administration last June when several British football clubs were put into severe financial difficulty after the subscription sports channel failed to pay money promised to them for broadcasting rights.
Despite the association with ChiliGaming, the SetantaBet.com project represents a focus on the Irish market, with industry whispers suggesting the company will also withdraw from the US market after allegedly agreeing the sale of its US pay-TV business to rival broadcaster Fox Sports.
The venture echoes SKY’s highly successful move into the betting arena in 2003, when BskyB bought out Surrey Racing before going on to take over TotalBet and UKBetting four years later, and also poses a threat to Ireland’s market leader Paddy Power.
It is also a another major step for the ambitious ChiliGaming, which began as a poker website in 2006 and has been realigning business in readiness for France’s anticipated new gambling regulations this year.
Last February the Malta-based company signed an exclusive deal with French group Iliad, enabling access to 4.3 million household customers of internet provider Free.
Two months ago ChiliGaming launched its own sportsbook, Chilibet.com, using a sports betting platform supplied by OddsMatrix. And it will soon also enter the online bingo market, after striking a software provider deal with Parlay Entertainment.
ChiliGaming, which in 2009 recorded a 40% annual increase in revenues to $11.7 million, estimates that the Setanta agreement will open the doors to more than 600,000 households in Ireland.
“I am very proud and ambitious about our new partnership with Setanta,” said Chiligaming founder Alexandre Dreyfus. “We are going to deliver both Setanta’s and Chili’s spirit to our players.”
“In addition to the online betting, we will jointly promote Chilipoker in Ireland and will become the new premium home for Irish poker players.” Dreyfus said.