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bwin – known as betandwin from its founding until 2006 – began life with 12 employees in 1997. The company launched its first online gambling site just one year after the company was founded, focusing on the growing sports betting market. One of the most important developments in the history of the company was the launch of its live bet product, developed in house, allowing players to place bet on sporting events while the actual event is taking place. The firm's initial public offering at the Austrian Stock Exchange took place in March 2000. In June 2001, betandwin acquired Simon Bold (Gibraltar), which is now known as bwin International Ltd., essentially moving its operations to Gibraltar. The move was made to follow some of the company’s biggest rivals to the island. By December 2001, betandwin was ready to step into the online casinogaming market and did so by launching its first casino platform. Two years later, in July 2003, betandwin introduced and launched a soft games platform known as Balls of Fire. In November 2004, betandwin launched multiplayer poker. The group acquired betoto.com to expand its presence in the Greek market in June 2005, a company which offers a fixed-odds betting service to punters around the globe. December of the same year marked another major acquisition – Ongame e-Solutions AB was taken over. This acquisition was a move consistent with the group’s strategy to expand into the poker market, after the takeover Ongame e-Solutions changed its name to bwin Games. Still in 2005 betandwin acquired global media rights outside of Germany to the Germany Football League. In August 2006 betandwin launched the new bwin brand. This was done after it was found that the betandwin brand, which was described as “descriptive, high-grade and functional”, was not suited anymore for the wide assortment of entertainment offerings covered by the company, including sports betting, poker, soft games, and casino games. In 2007, bwin began to offer live streaming of major sports events. In September 2009, bwin announced the acquisition of Italian poker operator Gioco Digitale, marking the company's entry into the Italian online gambling market.