Online casino planned for Ryanair flights - Tuesday 18th of October 2005

Ryanair is set to launch an online casino that will operate in tandem with a new in-flight entertainment service. The facility is designed to give a further boost to the airlines fast-growing ancillary revenues.

The airline is believed to be finalising plans to launch a virtual casino on its Ryanair.com website before Christmas. The move into gaming is an attempt by Ryanair to leverage off the phenomenal success of the website.

Chief executive Michael OLeary recently told investors that the site had 15 million unique users per month, and that Ryanair was the fifth most recognisable company brand name on internet search engine Google.

He added that the company was seeking to leverage off the websites scale to enhance revenue streams including gambling, travel insurance, car rental, hostels, online advertising and car parking.

Ryanair, which will be partnered by one of the existing technology providers in the gaming sector, is not expected to contribute any capital towards the project.

Instead, it will provide distribution, steering a portion of its massive online traffic onto the site and taking a percentage of the business that is generated.

The low-fares airline is also expected to introduce gaming as a new onboard entertainment service.

Earlier this year, Ryanair abandoned the in-flight entertainment it introduced in late 2004, after a slower than expected pick-up.

The airline is more confident that gaming, which is more immediate, could deliver a more practical offering than movies.

The airline is due to announce second-quarter results on November 7.

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