Per Widerström, the managing director of Gala Coral subsidiary Gala Interactive, is to step down from his role to take over as chairman and CEO of Central European land-based and online gaming operator Fortuna Entertainment Group.

Fortuna said that Widerström will begin his new role during the fourth quarter, replacing the operator’s current chairman and CEO Radim Haluza, who will stay with the business until the end of 2014 to ensure a smooth transition.

“I am very happy to join the Fortuna team,” Widerström said of his appointment. “Fortuna Entertainment Group is very well positioned to become the undisputable leader in the regulated Central European sports betting and gaming sector with the most trusted and exciting multi-channel betting and gaming brand.”

“I am delighted to have got the opportunity to lead the Fortuna organisation in these exciting times,” he added.

In his new role, Widerström will take responsibility for developing the company’s multi-channel strategy, and joins at a time when Fortuna has seen its online sportsbook offering grow strongly. It accounted for nearly half of total gross win during H1, with online betting gross win surpassing retail for the first time ever in Q1.

Widerström joins Fortuna after almost three years with Gala Interactive, which he joined in November 2011 after eight months as chief integration officer and group games director for bwin.party. He took up that role following the merger between bwin and PartyGaming in April 2011, having spent just over a year as chief operating officer of PartyGaming. Prior to that, Widerström also served as CEO of Scandinavian operator Expekt.

Fortuna's outgoing chief executive Radim Haluza said he was leaving the company in "very good financial shape" and at a time when it was enjoying a high level of trust and credibility among its investors.

“I have enjoyed three successful and exciting years in Fortuna and wishing the company and the new management team all the best,” Haluza said.

Shares in Fortuna Entertainment Group NV (Co.Data) (PRA:FOREG) are currently trading up 1.22 per cent at CZK124.50 per share in Prague this morning.

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