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ITV raises stake in online gambling

ITV raises stake in online gambling

ITV has expanded its online gambling operations in partnership with PartyGaming as it tries to supplement its terrestrial television advertising revenues.

The broadcaster said it was an extension of its offer that until June was provided by Jackpotjoy and included games branded with the names of ITV’s top programmes such as Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

ITV.com was relaunched to the public in July and provided a link to PartyGaming’s website, but since Tuesday internet users have been able to play the online games directly through a connection on the main page of the broadcaster’s site.

Games on offer include virtual versions of blackjack, roulette, slot machines and other popular games of chance.

A representative said: “These new games are an extension of the existing portfolio we have already had on the site.”

ITV has a stated ambition to reduce the proportion of its income that it derives from the advertising sales of its main ITV1 channel to less than 50 per cent.

Michael Grade, executive chairman, has said he is looking to ITV.com to provide additional earnings.

Its revenues for the first half of 2007 were £4m, a 100 per cent increase on the performance for the previous year.

The link-up with the gambling company comes despite Mr Grade’s decision to remove the ITV Play channel, a digital call-tv service that provided £26m to the company in the first half of 2006. That decision came before a series of scandals that drew the scrutiny of regulators – and fines – on channels screening participation-television programmes.

Mr Grade has been at the forefront of calls by leading broadcasters to re-establish trust with viewers in the wake of the scandals that have focused on viewers phoning in.

PartyGaming said on Wednesday the ITV deal showed that its ability to forge alliances with well established blue-chip companies “says something about the value and capability of our gaming products. It is a very good endorsement”.

It declined to give details about the contract.

Most agreements of this kind are for durations of at least three years and the relationship opens up the possibility of a reciprocal deal that would see PartyGaming advertise on ITV.

PartyGaming’s shares rose 2.7 per cent to 28¼p in heavy trading.


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