Category Archive : gambling

Catena Media posts revenue rise, with coronavirus having limited impact

Catena Media has reported a 2% year-on-year rise in revenue for Q1 2020, outlining that the coronavirus pandemic has had a limited impact on operations.

Revenue rose to €26.7m ($29m) for the first three months of the year up to 31 March, with adjusted EBITDA – excluding exceptional costs – increasing by 15% to €12.9m.

Its casino segment was the highest-performing vertical, contributing 61% of revenue, with sports betting representing 33%.

The company said the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t had much effect on operations at this stage, with any limitations on average player values to be offset by an increase in the number of players.

Catena Media CEO, Per Hellberg, said: “Our business remains strong and I am happy to see revenues in the first quarter increased compared to last year and that April has continued to develop well, despite weaker performance from the sports segment.

“Further, it makes me proud to see our employees continue to achieve great things while working remotely.”

Last month, Catena Media mentioned the suspension of all major sport meant it was focusing on its casino business, with revenue increasing 6% yearly from January to February, to €18m.

Svenska Spel reports stable Q1 results in “troubled times”

Svenska Spel saw Q1 2020 revenue of SEK 2.05bn ($207m), which is consistent with the same quarter of 2019.

Operating profit was SEK 701m, up 35% year-on-year.

The Swedish operator saw its digital business grow 13% compared with 2019, which now accounts for 41% of the company’s total revenue.

The period has seen decreased sales of physical lottery tickets by agents, as a result of fewer customers visiting shops and stores.

The cancellation of sporting events has also impacted the operator’s sport and casino segment, which saw a decrease of 1% for the quarter.

Svenska Spel said land-based casinos have been the most affected, after March saw “a dramatic reduction in the number of guests at physical casinos.”

All four of the operator’s casinos in its Casino Cosmopol and Vegas business area were closed on 29 March, with short-term work introduced for more than 800 of the 900 affected employees.

Patrik Hofbauer, president and CEO of Svenska Spel, said: “Svenska Spel, like many other companies and organisations, has quickly been forced to adapt to a new reality with the effects of the coronavirus. 

“We have therefore implemented measures to ensure a sustainable business, and we have done so with the utmost care about our customers and employees.

“Our hope is to be able to quickly switch to full operations when the situation turns around.”

RELATED TAGS: Online | Land-Based | Industry | Sports Betting | Financial | Casino

Problem gambling has not increased as we were expecting during pandemic

Yanica Saint, head of EU affairs & policy, Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) says the data the regulator has received does not show as “drastic” a change in player behaviour as was expected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking as part of a safer gambling panel during the SBC Digital Summit, Saint said the MGA is looking to implement an evidence-based approach to regulation and is still analysing current online gaming data.

What Saint has seen so far, however, matches what operators have been telling the MGA and the messages they were also expressing during the panel.

She said: “The MGA is also attempting an evidence-based approach, like the UK. We are still analysing the data we’ve received. The data does tally with what operators are saying. What we were expecting was a much more drastic change in player behaviour than has actually happened.

“Some operators did attempt to exploit the situation via marketing but the majority of regulated operators have been very responsible. Some operators are quite good on this front.

“The law requires operators to market their product in a socially responsible way. That was always the law. What we’ve done during the pandemic is merely issue a note on this emphasising any mention of COVID-19 would be in breach of these regulations.”

Panel moderator Andy Danson, partner, Bird & Bird, also emphasised what could be perceived as an exaggerated reporting of increases in gambling – and thereby problem gambling – from external news outlets.

Echoing the thoughts of the panellists, he said: “There have been less changes in player behaviour than has been reported outside the industry; certainly not the drastic changes that have been suggested.”

Retailers have learned online gaming is not the “enemy”

One of the biggest lessons for retailers during the coronavirus outbreak is that online gaming isn’t the “enemy,” according to the CEO of Italian firm Snaitech.

Fabio Schiavolin said there were many things for retailers to take out of the period, which has seen shops closed and live sport suspended, including the importance of converting from retail to digital.

Speaking on the ‘An opportunity to revisit the omni-channel approach’ panel on day one of SBC’s Digital Summit, Schiavolin said: “If there is a new spike of the virus, the lesson our retailers have taken is digital isn’t an enemy for them, it can be an opportunity for alternative revenue for the shops.

“They need to be prepared to develop better in the online vertical because if they are not exploiting this, someone else will take advantage of their customers in the online platform.

“When we reopen, there will be a better possibility for us to implement all the tools needed to convert from retail to digital and also be better prepared for an evolution in this market.”

Schiavolin added the online market is a way to evolve and find opportunities, including investing in markets which used to be considered minor, such as lesser-known sports leagues.

He said: “I think this market is resilient; with a lack of full market offering, I wasn’t expecting an average gross gaming revenue (GGR) of €16m ($17.4m) to continue, with just Russian table tennis and Nicaraguan football; but we are very close to the average GGR we were doing in the first two months of the year.”

In the same panel, the CEO of Superbet, Johnny Hartnett, mentioned diversity is key in times such as these; being able to offer products across multiple verticals and platforms, or being available in several markets.

Harnett explained: “Having a diverse business will put you in a better position when unexpected shocks come, which also includes having a reasonable split across sports betting and gaming.

“The online gaming business we own has had a pretty good period over the past couple of weeks as people have migrated from sports betting and from retail to online.”

Restrictive regulation “contradictive” to player protection

Following his talk at the ‘Business continuity in the face of COVID-19’ panel at the SBC Digital Summit, Gambling Insider caught up with Betsson Group CEO Jesper Svensson.

What are the benefits of having a virtual conference and what are the drawbacks?

I think it’s good to have such conferences still happening as they bring the industry together and discuss important topics. If you think about it, when you go to one of the real-life events, there will always be these kinds of speakers and sessions people will attend and listen to. So from that point of view, it covers it really well. Of course, there is the lack of interactions you have in real-life conferences, with networking and meetings that you set up. But, from the purpose of knowledge sharing and the discussion of various topics, I think the virtual side works really well.

How was your virtual panel experience at the SBC Digital Summit and what were your main takeaway points as one of the contributors?

In a time like this, I’ve been speaking with a range of other people in the industry, including other CEOs. You do want to have an understanding of what others are doing and see if you can find any commonalities. It’s good when you sit down and hear that some of the work others are doing, you’re doing too. Particularly around how you navigate around responsible gaming at a time like this. It gives you confirmation that the initiatives you’re doing are also happening elsewhere. It’s really important to hear many are thinking along the same lines.

Did you get a sense of vindication from what you heard from the other speakers?

Yeah, I would say so. I think several mentioned they have increased the level of interactions with customers during the current situation. Not just when it comes to the responsible gaming side, but there was a discussion around the changing patterns you see. Table tennis is now a popular sport, the football leagues in Belarus and Nicaragua are getting a lot of attention. You see more shifts towards esports than before. Those are trends we have seen as well, so of course that shows the industry, as a whole, is experiencing similar types of trends right now.

For Betsson specifically, are these the kind of markets bettors are flooding to – casino, virtuals, esports and sports like table tennis?

Flooding is a strong word! But we as a company have historically been quite big on the casino side in relative terms to our other products. Before this happened, we were already at 75% of our business being casino. We see a steadiness in our casino numbers. On the sports side, of course, we have decreased significantly. Because, although you see an increase in some minor sports like table tennis, it’s by no means at the level of when you have all the big football leagues up and running. So you see a shift based on what is available but there is also a drop in general activity.

Do you have any worries about marketing and compliance failures during the pandemic?

I’ve heard that there have been instances like that. But, in general, if you take the serious regulated companies, you will not see that type of behaviour. You will instead see an extra focus on player protection. I think, unfortunately, there will always be a few that are not doing good things for the industry as a whole. That’s not what the industry needs or wants, because most operators in my view are taking responsibility at times like this. But not just in times like this – all the time.

We are very highly regulated; I think sometimes from the outside it can be hard to understand how well-regulated many of the companies are. We are licensed under 12 different jurisdictions, for example, and there is always some kind of audit going on. But also as a company, you want to do the right thing, be fair to your customers and protect your customers. That mantra I know many companies have and it’s unfortunate if some companies don’t, and try to benefit from this situation; because that gives the whole industry a bad name.

We’ve just seen this week the Betting and Gaming Council has placed a voluntary ban on all TV and radio gambling advertising in the UK, although in Spain and Sweden we’ve seen increased restrictions during this pandemic. Do you have any thoughts on regulator responses during the pandemic?

You mentioned Spain and there is one type of regulation. What is unfortunate is also what’s happening in Latvia, where they suspended licenses for the regulated operators. And also when you look at certain limits being discussed in Sweden. What you risk doing as a regulator, is pushing players to play outside the regulated market. That can severely impact the channelisation in those jurisdictions, because players will not stop to play, they will just find other places to play.

So it becomes contradictive to do that in the name of player protection. I think it’s good when you can work closely with the regulators and have a good dialogue about what are the right measurements to do at a time like this; to protect not just the consumers but the regulations in themselves.

All eyes on the casino industry, payments and compliance, among the topics at MBGSVE2020 (Virtual Conference)

All eyes on the casino industry, payments and compliance, among the topics at MBGSVE2020 (Virtual Conference)

The casino industry, payments industry, and future compliance to be in the spotlight on the 7th of May during virtual conference.

Big names of the casino, payments, and gambling compliance industry are joining the discussions at European Gaming Media’s (part of Hipther Agency) first virtual conference this year which will take place on the 7th of May.

You can register on this link to save your seat (no travel needed, you can attend from the comfort of your home or office)

PLEASE NOTE: If you are already a registered delegate of MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit, you don’t have to purchase a new ticket!

IS THE ONLINE CASINO INDUSTRY BENEFITING DURING SPORTS TOURNAMENT DISRUPTION?

Sports betting enthusiasts are spending more time playing casino games and with all the land-based casino lockdowns, the online casino industry should be benefiting the most. Among the verticals that have seen an increased activity is the online poker industry. While live tournaments are being canceled, the poker players are moving online and resurrecting the online poker industry. But, is this the real case?

The experts of the “IS THE ONLINE CASINO INDUSTRY BENEFITING DURING SPORTS TOURNAMENT DISRUPTION PERIOD” panel discussion, which will be moderated byAndriusGabnys (Attorney At Law – Gabnys Law Firm), is joined by BeyzaOrazova (Head of Sales, iGaming at DIMOCO Carrier Billing), Vadim Potapenko (Head of sales at Slotegrator), Dmitry Starostenkov (CEO at Evenbet Gaming – the leading poker platform provider), Jan Urbanec (CEO at Endorphina), Vladimir Malakchi (Chief Business Development Officer at Evoplay Entertainment), and NadiyaAttard (Director of Sales at Relax Gaming).

THE PAYMENTS INDUSTRY DURING COVID-19

Social distancing is keeping people in their homes and with this comes more online spending. The fiat currencies are doing good during this crisis, however, cryptocurrencies are losing their value fast. We will analyze if there are growths in the transaction volumes and how the spend is increasing during this period but also keeping an eye on cybersecurity.

The discussion will be moderated byDr. Simon Planzer (Partner at PLANZER LAW),and will be joined by Simon Dorsen (Director of Gaming at OKTO – Gaming Fintech solutions), Vytautas Karalevičius (Co-founder at Bankera), Vasilije Lekovic (Director of Gaming at Trustly), SauliusRacevičius (CEO at ConnectPay), Olga Golikova (Head of Billing at Parimatch), and Marc Riedi (Director, paysafecard Switzerland, a Paysafe Company).

WILL ADVERTISEMENT BANNING STILL BE ENFORCED AFTER COVID-19?

While battling against COVID-19, European countries are spending a huge amount of incomes and once the battle is over, the state budget has to be supplemented. Will legislators consider lifting advertisement bans in order to allow operators and affiliates to relaunch their activities and start running the business, while paying taxes.

Compliance experts and lawyers, regulators are going to join the “WILL ADVERTISEMENT BANNING STILL BE ENFORCED AFTER COVID-19?” panel discussion, which will be moderated by Dr. Joerg Hofmann (Partner at MELCHERS LAW).

The discussion will be joined by SörenMeius (Estonian Ministry of Finance), Morten Ronde (CEO at Danish Online Gambling Association and Managing Partner at Nordic Gambling), Joe Ewens (Managing Editor of GamblingComplianceat VIXIO), GustafHoffstedt (Secretary-General at the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling), and Ivan Liashenko (Chief Marketing Officer at Parimatch).

As mentioned above the virtual edition of #MBGS2020VE will be held on the 7th of May and will gather 300 gambling industry professionals who can attend virtually from their internet browser. The gathering will allow virtual delegates to network at virtual tables in the virtual deal room and conduct 1 on 1 meetings with their prospects/clients/partners.

The conference will start at 9:30 AM CET on the 7th of May and the participants will gain access to the platform on 23 April.

For further inquiries about the 2020 edition of MBGS and BSG Awards, speaking/attending/sponsoring options, make sure to send an e-mail to Andrada Bota (B2B Sales Executive at Hipther Agency) or subscribe to the weekly newsletter on the following link.

Among the supporters of the conference, you will also find Square in the Air as a strategic partner, and leading media outlets such as Online Casino Reports, CalvinaAyre.com, Focus Gaming News, Gioco News, iGaming Business, iGamingCalendar.com, Gambling Insider, InterGame, Global Legal Group, FortunaWeb, Commission Magazine, Slotegrator and much more.

For media-related inquiries, please contact Alexandru Marginean (Marketing Specialist at Hipther Agency).

MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit Live and BSG Awards

Information about the live edition of the conference and BSG Awards, which will be held on the 6th of August, will be announced at a later stage. The online voting stage for BSG Awards 2020 has been stopped and will be reset in order to allow all participants to focus on different matters.

A new online voting stage will be started between 1 and 30 June. Further information will be released in the upcoming weeks.

MARE BALTICUM Gaming Summit, also known as the Baltic and Scandinavian Gaming Summit & Awards offers the opportunity for both new companies and veterans, to learn about industry insights and compliance update, while also being part of a group that is at the forefront of the gambling industry in the Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, and also from the DACH region.

The Summit approaches all regulatory and compliance related aspects of the mentioned markets and also highlights some trending topics of the gambling industry.

For more details visit www.marebalticumgaming.com

European Gaming Media and Events press contacts:

Zoltan Tuendik, Head of Business

[email protected], +40 735 559 234

Alex Marginean, Marketing Specialist

[email protected], +40 731 394 220

Stars Group shareholders vote to approve Flutter deal

The Stars Group’s acquisition by Flutter Entertainment has been given the green light by its shareholders after they voted overwhelmingly in favour of the arrangement.

At a meeting, approximately 99.99% of votes from Stars Group shareholders supported the special resolution, which will see Flutter acquire all the operator’s issued and outstanding shares.

The approval follows shareholders in Flutter backing the deal last week, with 99.19% of its share capital voting in favour of the merger and just 0.81% against it.

The agreement for Flutter to acquire Stars Group was reached last October, to create a merged entity worth £3.8bn ($4.7bn), with Flutter holding 54.64% of the new combined business and Stars Group taking a 45.36% stake.

It is expected the merger will close in May, after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) cleared the deal at the end of March.

In February, Flutter and Stars Group posted combined total revenue of $5.28bn for full-year 2019. Flutter’s revenue increased 14% year-on-year to £2.14bn, while Stars Group saw revenue of $2.53bn, up 25%.

UK gambling consultant predicts 50% drop in betting shops post-COVID

Gambling consultant Steve Donoughue believes UK retail sports betting will see a lasting impact after the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Speaking with Gambling Insider for the May/June edition of its magazine, Donoughue explained that while all changes in betting behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic had the potential to be permanent, the shift away from customers physically visiting betting shops could have a lasting impact for retail-reliant operators.

He said: “Land-based is going to suffer as people will switch to online and may never return.

“Land-based depends on people making a visit to their venue as part of their regular schedule. Once that stops being regular, things will change.”

When asked if retail sports betting had the potential to recover post-COVID, Donoughue said he thinks this is doubtful.

He explained: “I can’t see it going back to the way it was. There will always be a market for retail sports betting. But will it be one that is sufficient for the number of shops we have now? I doubt it.

“I predict a 50% drop over the next few years.”

Despite this outlook, Donoughue had some inspirational advice for sports betting operators in the UK.

“Keep your nerve,” Donoughue urged. “We will get through this. Sport will return.

“Be innovative but don’t be greedy or desperate as the Government is waiting to pounce.”

The full feature will appear in the May/Jun edition of Gambling Insider magazine. Click here to read when available. 

Virtual sports to remain “core offering” long term

Virtual sports will be a “core offering” for operators when live sport returns, according to the COO of Inspired Entertainment.

The president and COO of the virtual sports supplier, Brooks Pierce, has used the success of the Virtual Grand National earlier this month as an example of how virtual sports can plug the gap of live sports.

The Virtual Grand National, which replaced the actual race after it was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, was aired on ITV on 4 April, raising £2.6m ($3.2m) for NHS Charities Together, while reaching a peak viewership of 4.8 million.

With Inspired Entertainment providing the animation for the race, Pierce is adamant the vertical is here to stay.

Speaking to Gambling Insider, Pierce said: “In addition to the extensive viewership, information about Inspired’s Virtual Grand National was trending second worldwide on Twitter for a period of time. This is a great example of how virtual sports can plug the gap and bring people together.

“Virtual sports can fill the void of live sports with ultra-realistic content and with attractive betting options that sports wagering fans are used to and can easily adopt.

“It will also be a core offering when live sports are back, as players like the quick action offered by virtual sports with a contest going off every few minutes.

“Our virtual sports business has seen significant growth in the last month and so have our online and mobile slot games.”

Inspired is hoping its V-Play Basketball virtual game can help fill the void after March Madness was cancelled last month, while it is the only current provider of virtual American Football, which it said has seen a “tremendous response” since last year’s launch.

You can read the full Virtual Sports feature in our May/June edition of Gambling Insider when it is published.

Sweden ready to enforce strict gambling rules

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Sweden’s government proposed a set of temporary rules that will restrict gambling activities. Social security minister Ardalan Shekarabi proposed to limit the exposure of online gambling, stating that online casinos are “one of the most risky forms of gambling”, especially since many sporting events and other gambling-related activities have been shut down.

Restrictions include a limit to a weekly gambling deposit, with a maximum of SEK 5,000 ($500). The same sum is also the loss limit when using vending machines. Players will also have to set time limits on their online casino activities. Additionally, there will be a SEK 100 cap on bonus offers.

The Spelinspektionen gambling regulator will also have new assignments, such as providing the government on monthly reports relayed to the market or suggesting measures to strengthen consumer protection. Spelinspektionen general director Camilla Rosenberg stated the organization now has “an even clearer focus on gaming responsibility and the fight against illegal gambling.”

Svenska Spel’s president and CEO Patrik Hofbauer expressed a different opinion, saying “It is difficult to interpret the proposals as anything other than a substantial underestimation of the gaming industry’s ability to present powerful measures themselves. At the same time, we are surprised at what we think is missing about consumer protection.”

The proposal will be up for discussion until May 7, but the minister hopes it’ll go into effect on June 1 and last until the end of 2020.