Svenska Spel reports stable Q1 results in “troubled times”

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

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.

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.”

NetEnt, ReelPlay Announce Intellectual Property Alliance

Casino game developers and providers NetEnt and ReelPlay today announced that they have teamed up to strengthen their rights associated with their respective franchises InfiniReels and Infinity Reels.

Under the terms of the two companies’ recent alliance, NetEnt and ReelPlay are set to work together to jointly extend and protect their marks.

NetEnt is set to release its first InfiniReels game – Gods of Gold InfiniReels – on May 14. The InfiniReels mechanic is the latest innovation to be presented by the Swedish content developer. It increases the number of reels in a slots game with each win, with an infinite number of reels and win ways available within that game.

ReelPlay debuted its Infinity Reels mechanic last November. The new feature provides the chance to add an additional reel, re-spin, and multiplier with each spin.

The first Infinity Reels slot title – El Dorado Infinity Reels – hit the market in November 2019. A follow up game – Giza Infinity Reels – was rolled out earlier this month. ReelPlay’s third Infinity Reels title – Odin Infinity Reels – is scheduled for June 2020 release.

Partnership a Logical Step

Commenting on their partnership with ReelPlay, Bryan Upton, Director Games at NetEnt, said that as both companies clearly followed similar ideas independently from one another, “it made sense for us to come together to reinforce our unique propositions in a highly competitive market.”

Mr. Upton commended and thanked their partner for “their innovative approach and for working together with us in these dynamic times.”

David Johnson, Chief Commercial Officer at ReelPlay, added that they are happy to have agreed a collaboration “with an established global pioneer such as NetEnt.”

ReelPlay was founded in 2014 as Chance Interactive, but rebranded in 2019. The slots studio is based in Sydney, Australia. The company holds a license from the UK Gambling Commission to provide its content to UK-facing gambling operators and content aggregators, but its portfolio is available across multiple other markets, as well.

Swiss and Colombian Debut for NetEnt

News about NetEnt’s partnership with ReelPlay emerged shortly after the Swedish company announced that it has introduced its content in two new regulated markets.

In early April, NetEnt announced that it has obtained the global standard ISO 27001 certification that enabled it to enter the Swiss online gambling market and supply its content to locally licensed online casinos.

Last week, the major Swedish supplier announced its Colombian debut through a previous partnership with US online casino operator Rush Street Interactive. NetEnt has been supplying its content to Rush Street’s US-facing online gaming operations for a while now.

In Colombia, Rush Street is one of more than 15 locally licensed operators following the reorganization of the Latin American nation’s iGaming market several years ago.

Source: NetEnt and ReelPlay agree IP partnership

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U.S Authorities Seize COVID Domain Name; Owner tries to sell it in BTC

The owner tries to sell COVID domain name in exchange for Bitcoin; US authorities seize the platform.

According to the recent reports, the U.S Department of Justice has received a warrant against the owner of a COVID domain name called coronaprevention.org alleging that the person attempted to sell the domain name in exchange for Bitcoin on a hackers forum.

The seller positioned the domain name as a platform to sell demand products with a high markup. In response to the warrant, The United States Attorney’s Office has seized the domain name. This move comes after Attorney General William Barr requested the department to closely monitor fraudulent and illicit activities related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Michael Johnson, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations included an affidavit in the warrant mentioning that an HSI agent helped the owner of the domain into the forum.

Moreover, the alleged HSI agent was actually pretending to be selling fake COVID-19 testing kits on the platform, which the owner of the site deemed as a genius. However, he acknowledged  “they wanted to do that but I couldn’t get enough cash to bulk buy them from Alibaba.”

The agent further made a partial payment on 20th April against the domain for which the owner initially requested $500 worth BTC.

Jhonson also suggested that the owner of the domain is probably involved in “laundering monetary instruments as well as aiding and abetting the laundering of monetary instruments.”

As of now, coronaprevention.org has been taken down and redirected to the Justice Department’s seizure notice. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started creating havoc across the world, vendors on dark web marketplaces have been selling fraudulent items related to the COVID-19. Items like hand sanitizers, fake vaccines, face masks, toilet papers, etc. are being sold at exorbitant prices on the darknet. 

Hegic Assigns Loss of Customer Funds to a Typo in its Smart Contract Code

On-chain options trading protocol Hegic says that a ‘typo’ in its smart contract code led to the $28000 worth users funds being locked in its smart contract.  

On-chain options trading protocol built on the Ethereum Blockchain, Hegic has already encountered its first hurdle, days after it launched on the Ethereum mainnet. Hegic introduced its smart contract on 23rd April, but a bug in its code (at least that is what initial audit suggested) has locked up $28000 worth user funds, most of which were in DAI stablecoin and the rest in Ether. Hegic has however assured to refund the money to all its users.

However, it acknowledged that the lost funds will forever be locked in the smart contracts. 

What hasn’t gone down well with users is the fact that Hegic is now reasoning the fund locking to have occurred due to a typo in its smart contract code. A user even took to Twitter alleging that Hegic is underplaying the severity of the bug. 

A software auditing firm named Trail of Bits claimed that Hegic had ignored bug warnings, along with other important flaws in its code.

In an interview with the blockchain news platform Decrypt, Dan Guido, CEO of Trail of Bits told, “It’s clearly an error, and one that would have been easily caught had they written any unit tests.”

Here is how options trading works. Using this method, traders are able to purchase a contract, and then buy or sell assets pertaining to that contract at a later date for a specific price. However, in this case, the error in Hegic’s smart contract stopped users from accessing their funds locked in the contracts, once they had expired. 

Commenting about the issue, Dan Guido, CEO of Trail of Bits stressed the fact that misrepresentation of security audits can be detrimental to the entire DeFi ecosystem. Similar incidents have happened on Ethereum before.

For example, in the 2017 Parity wallet case, an entire library of wallets worth $280 million in the Parity DAO was accidentally removed by an anonymous developer. 

 

Hard Rock Confident in Success of Greek Casino License Appeal

Hard Rock International is confident that it will win a court appeal of the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s decision to disqualify the hotel and casino operator from the race for a license for the development of a casino resort at a defunct airport near Athens, Greece.

The Greek gambling regulator awarded the license to another US-based casino and hospitality company – Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, earlier this year.

The license authorizes the tribal gaming and hotel operator to build a €1 billion casino resort as part of a larger complex, dubbed the Hellinikon, at the site of the former Ellinikon International Airport, just outside the Greek capital.

As mentioned above, Hard Rock was disqualified from the casino license race and the company appealed that decision. Its appeal was rejected by the Hellenic Gaming Commission and the Preliminary Appeals Authority.

Greece’s highest administrative court is set to hear the appeal today. Hard Rock spokesperson Michael Karloutsos told local media that the company “will ultimately win the competition for Hellinikon” and that it is the only company in the race “to have developed a project like this before and they will do it again.”

Mr. Karloutsos went on to say that Hard Rock “is the only contender with a recognizable global brand and a worldwide network with staying power that can attract much needed additional tourists to Greece.”

Insufficient Experience and Finances Behind Rejection of Hard Rock’s Bid

According to Greek news outlets, Hard Rock sent a letter of guarantee outside the timeframe specified by the Hellenic Gaming Commission. In addition, the regulator reportedly told the company that its application papers did not demonstrate sufficient development experience and did not meet financial criteria.

Companies interested in participating in the Hellinikon casino license bidding process had until early October 2019 to submit the necessary documents with the Greek gambling regulator.

Responding to comments about its lack of experience and finances for the project, Hard Rock said last year that it was “absolutely laughable” that the company’s expertise was being questioned.

Hard Rock operates hotel and casino resorts in Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, Mississippi, and Canada, and is looking to build an integrated resort in Japan. The company was also authorized to build a luxury resort in Spain.

As mentioned earlier, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and its INSPIRE Athens concept was selected as the preferred bidder for a casino resort at the Hellinikon. The eventual start of the project has been delayed for years, and the global coronavirus crisis has pushed back groundbreaking one more time.

Hard Rock’s legal challenge is expected to further delay the process. The company maintains that “it was wrongly disqualified” and that it was victim of “unfair and improper practice.” Hard Rock also says that it is ready to take the matter to Greek and even European courts to end up as the winner in the race for the casino license.

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bitFlyer Blockchain Arm Starts Offering Consultancy Services

Japanese Crypto Exchange bitFlyer blockchain arm starts offering consultancy services to new businesses in the blockchain space. 

One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan, bitFlyer just announced that its blockchain arm named bitFlyer Blockchain will offer consultancy services to businesses around the world built around blockchain technology. bitFlyer is also one of the most prominent Bitcoin brokers in the world. 

bitFlyer already offers services like BaaS, Joint Business, Miyabi Core, and RegTech. With the launch of its latest consultancy service, it aims to help new blockchain businesses with their task management requirements. As of now, bitFlyer Blockchain is targeting new companies in sectors like finance, manufacturing, technology, real estate, and public sectors. 

In the press release, bitFlyer noted, “We do not know how to launch a business using blockchain, we do not know the effect of introduction, there are no blockchain experts, the significance of using the blockchain instead of general database “Why Blockchain?” Many companies face challenges such as in-depth discussions.

As a virtual currency exchange company, we have a track record of operating for over 6 years. In addition, we have expertise in cryptography, which was originally developed from 0 for the blockchain algorithm, and a domestic top-class blockchain patent.”

Based on these backgrounds, in addition to the segments shown in Figures 1 to 4 below, experienced blockchain consultants have developed from the perspective of the customer to solve the business problems of the customer. As a new segment, we have started to provide consulting services.

The firm had been receiving many requests from major corporations regarding Security Token Offerings (STO), building transparent supply chains, and the usage of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT). It is being speculated the recently launched consultancy services will help to address such inquiries. 

Genesis Affiliates Presents New Casino Planet Brand

Genesis Affiliates is gearing up preparations to soon debut Casino Planet, the 12th online casino powered by the multi-brand affiliate program.

Casino Planet promises personalized experience in an otherworldly city where the sun never rises and districts never go to sleep, bursting with energy and entertainment and neon gleaming lights.

The new online casino, yet to open its virtual doors for gaming enthusiasts, will offer a rich library of games that are known to be globally loved by players. The digital gambling venue will also be generous in promotions and special bonuses in a bid to attract players and keep them entertained.

As mentioned earlier, Casino Planet will offer tailor-made experience, built around advanced technology and real-time communication with players.

Gaming Software and Other Important Info

Casino Planet will feature a wide variety of content from some of the most advanced and largest game studios in the industry, including NetEnt, Microgaming, Yggdrasil, Play’n GO, Red Tiger, Evolution Gaming, among others.

The new online casino will also offer titles developed by new but very promising iGaming content developers.

Planet Casino’s library will include slots, progressive jackpots such as all-time classics Mega Moolah, Hall of Gods, and Mega Fortune, daily jackpots, popular table games, and Live Casino hits that offer authentic land-based casino experience but from the comfort of players’ own homes.

The casino will keep adding new and exciting games every month.

Upon launch, the new casino will be offering more than 1,300 different games on desktop and over 500 titles on mobile.

Casino Planet will support English, German, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian languages. Supported currencies will include EUR, GBP, USD, CAD, INR, ZAR, SEK, and NOK, among others, which suggests that it would target and service players from some of the largest European markets, but also from the rest of the world.

Casino Planet is licensed and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, and the Swedish Gambling Authority (Spelinspektionen).

Casino Planet Offers and Bonuses

Casino Planet arrives with a plenty of welcome bonus packages and other special offers and promises to always maintain a wide variety of promotions.

The casino offers 100%, max bonus £$€300 for all markets except Finland, Sweden, and India, plus 200 Free Spins as a welcome bonus. Finnish players will receive 100 Free Spins (20 a day) upon deposit. In Sweden, players will be offered 50 Free Spins for the Starburst slot upon deposit. And in India, players are treated to a 100% welcome bonus up to ₹30,000 + 20 Free Spins.

The main welcome package includes 100% up to £$€300 + 200 Free Spins for a first deposit, 50% up to £$€400 for a second deposit, and 25% up to £$€400 for a third and fourth deposit.

For Indian players, the welcome package includes 100% up to ₹10,000 + 20 Free Spins on Starburst for a first deposit, 50% up to ₹10,000 for a second deposit, and 25% up to ₹5,000 for a third and fourth deposit.

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New Bitcoin Scam Uses Fake Celebrity Endorsements

Cryptocurrencies are indeed a hot topic these days, especially with the world under complete lockdown. Millions are growing interest in the sector, and some are even investing. So much so, that certain crypto firms and researchers believe that US citizens are investing their $1200 COVID-19 stimulus package in crypto. With so much profit potential, cryptocurrency investment is actually luring. However, some scammers are taking advantage of the situation, and utilizing the credibility of celebrities to attract potential investors into fake investment opportunities. 

Bitcoin Pro: A fake trading app

One such platform is the Bitcoin Pro. Make no mistake, this is not the older Bitcoin Pro App, but a scam trading platform which is equipped with an automated trading application. It has positioned itself as a potential high-return investment platform. However, the only possible outcome of investing in it is losing the entire investment amount, let along making any profits out of it. 

The misleading trading robot in question was actually created by an unauthorized affiliate network, with an aim to scam people, by luring them of making million dollar profit returns out of their investment in the Bitcoin pro scam trading app.

Scammers using celebrity names to gain credibility

While crypto scams have been there for a long time, scammers are now using celebrity images to advertise their schemes and crate credibility among the audience. We are often lured into something that is endorsed by prominent personalities, and Bitcoin Pro, along with other scammers are taking advantage of that psyche. For example, the Bitcoin Pro registration page displays an image of CNN anchor Jake Tapper endorsing the platform. 

However, the same endorsement has been promoted in other clone sites like Bitcoin Rush and Bitcoin Trader, which is substantial evidence that such advertisement is nothing but a scam trap. Moreover, there are a number of fake reviews circulating on the web regarding the profit potential on such platforms. Well, the scammers do not stop there. Apart from reviews and fake advertisements, they have also pushed a number of fake articles, and have made them seem believable by using celebrity faces like Gordon Ramsay, Sir Richard Branson, Dragons’ Den, Eric Bana, Shark Tank, Martin Lewis, James McAvoy, Peter Lim, Daniel Radcliffe, and Jamie Oliver.

A couple of weeks ago, celebrity Eric Bana tweeted regarding the same stating, “Unfortunately even in times as harsh as now, there are no stopping scam artists. Please do not open any fake articles claiming that I am involved in any way in cryptocurrencies. My name is illegally being used for that purpose. Take care.”

Recently, British TV presenter and former X-Factor star, Rylan Clark-Neal issued a warning to his followers, to not believe in the fake interview, that was then going around the internet, stating that Ryan had made millions by trading Bitcoin. A couple of weeks ago, the FBI also released a statement explaining that it expects the rise of crypto scams amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this scenario, we recommend you keep away from such fake promises of high-return crypto investments. While the crypto industry is undoubtedly a promising proposition, there is no way of using it as a short-term money-making machine. 

Stay safe!