Ryanair Offers Gambling Web Site

Ryanair Holdings PLC, Europe's fastest-growing airline, said Wednesday it is launching a new gambling Web site in a deal with a leading Internet gaming company, Jackpotjoy.com.

Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said he hoped the deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, would help the carrier to boost non-ticket revenue to 20 percent from the current 15 percent.

The deal means visitors to Ryanair's Web site are being offered the chance to make a credit-card deposit to play more than 80 online games, including several kinds of bingo, casino and card games. Next year, O'Leary said, Ryanair hopes to allow passengers to play Jackpotjoy games on their cell phones during flights - once the airline installs new telecommunications equipment on its planes that permits in-flight cell phone use.

In September, Ryanair announced a five-year contract with an advertising company, InviseoMedia, to install seatback ads on all of its aircraft in another initiative to generate income from passengers during flights.

Dublin-based Ryanair, which was founded in 1985, today has 3,700 employees and operates more than 350 routes to 23 countries across Europe. It is currently pursuing a hostile takeover of Irish rival Aer Lingus Group PLC, a formerly state-controlled airline that was floated on the Irish and British stock exchanges last month.

Online gambling has been the subject of international controversy since the United States effectively banned it last month.

Britain is seeking support from dozens of nations for new regulations on the booming sector, saying that would offer gamblers better protection than a ban.

The U.S. Congress caught the gaming industry by surprise when it added a provision to an unrelated bill making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to settle payments to online gambling sites. President Bush signed it into law Oct. 14.


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