Among them is a comparatively new company, but with strong credentials coming from the touchscreen industry. The Betstation, which operates through is based at Schorfling, close to Linz in Upper Austria and is housed in the same building as Europe’s biggest touchscreen games company. Fun world, it is no co-incidence, for the owner of the Fun world’s is also the owner of the bet station and Josef Ohlinger has joined forces with Hubert Hofer as his company’s managing director to promote the new business.

      Effectively, what the Betstation is offering pub and arcade owners wherever the law permits, is a betting office in a cabinet. It tailor-makes the system to fit the requirements of the operator, which may be to have the ‘betting office’ no larger than an AWP standing in his premises, or open an entire office full of terminals and monitors to supplement his other activities.
      The Betstation Sportwetten GmbH specializes in providing betting terminals for sports and dog racing and is a full service partner for a mobile and flexible sports betting office. “We have a shop-in-shop concept,” said Hofer. “Should takings   at the particular location not meet expectation, then it can simply be transferred to another location Flexibility and compactness were vital ingredients during the conception of the business. ”
      The company slogan “…und die Wette gilt ” (..and the bet is on) was carefully chosen to illustrate what the Betstation does. “Safety is of considerable importance here. Its ability to be easily transportable means it is virtually assured of success. We have already shown though tests that is a profitable platform for sports and dog betting and is accompanied by experienced software development partners. ”
      Together Hofer and Josef Ohlinger put together a highly experienced team to perfect the concept, drawn from the ranks of Fun world and from other sources. “They have gathered a great deal of experience of this sector both in sales and project management. ”
      Hofer said that in the final analysis it is the players who make the decisions. “They have asked for betting terminals to go into their regular pubs or games arcades. It the pressure is coming from the base then we must produce the right terminal to meet it. ” Every Touchwin machine comes supplied with the necessary marketing tools in the form of a starter pack, of tee-shirts, lighters, table displays, stickers and posters.


The company which effectively turned UK gaming on its head, signed a letter of intent for its acquisition by Scientific Games Corporation in January. SGC is a major supplier of instant tickets, systems and services to lotteries and of wagering systems and services to pari-mutuel operators.
      The deal is expected to be concluded any time now, but Austrian-based Global Draw regards the venture as a vehicle to drive the company forward at a faster rate, rather than anything about which current customers should feel concerned. The progress of the Global Draw over the past two years has been nothing short of breathtaking.

It is not based in the UK – where the company’s dynamic expansion took place – but has corporate offices also in Vienna, Austria, where all of the group software and technology is supported. Formed in 2000, the Global Draw has its roots in the mid-1990s. Partners Steve Frater and Walter Grubmuller have in five years transformed the company at a growth rate of over 200 per cent per annum. Sales in the UK in 2000 were £ 472,000; by the end of March’06 that will have grown to £ 40m and profits £25m.
      Frater was with UK bookmaker William Hill while Grubmuller’s background is a gaming expert in Austria where he set up the Admiral chain of bookmaking shops. They got together and opened their first UK Admiral shop in 1996. But the British National Lottery was giving bookmakers a hard time and they were searching for add-ons to their businesses, often experimenting with numbers games. It was the Frater-Grubmuller combination’s desire to see an automated version of the numbers game which laid the foundation for their success.

      They were ready with their first prototypes in 1999 which they tried in their own shops and in some of the big chains such as Ladbroke, coral and William Hill and there was an immediate success. But it was the change from a turnover tax to a profits based tax that led to the explosion of the business. The resulting roulette game quickly dominated the market and now 95 percent of wagers on FOBTs in the UK are on roulette games. In 2004, £20bn was staked on FOBTs, netting a life-saving £500m for the bookies and, not incidentally, £80m for the British Treasury in taxes.
      Even legislative curbs did not halt the company’s growth. Admittedly the Global Draw, its growing number of competitors and not least to bookies themselves, were worried when the British Gaming Board called into question to the legality of FOBTs in 2002. However, in the end the Gaming Board backed off in favour of restrictions, cutting the number of terminals in any one bookmaking shop to four, setting a maximum stake of £100, top prize  of £500 and limiting the speed of games to three per minute. The company, however, was not fazed by this   bid to slow down the business; it regarded it more as the setting of a level playing field...and continued to expand.

      Today, the Global Draw operates its huge British business – it has an estimated one-third of the market of 20m000 FOBTs in 8,000 locations – on a rental basis, taking a cut of the proceeds and eyeing international expansion. This is likely to come through Italy. Switzerland and Walter Grubmuller’s homeland of Austria, where the technology support operation is based- plus eastern Europe.
      The company’s use of the Sirius Satellite to operate its system provides a major benefit in this respect, as it has a ‘footprint ’ which spans Europe. The legislation in different countries may not mirror that of the UK, but with some adjustments and tweaking, the company sees no reason why it cannot similarly fire the imagination of punters across Europe.
      Obviously Scientific Games sees the same potential, which has prompted it to pay US $183m plus an earn-out depending upon progress, to buy the company. It will bring to the table fresh technologies, relationships and expertise in territories way beyond Europe to help grow the Global Draw to the next levels in its development