The Senet Group will has over its assets and responsibilities to the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) on 8 April.
Previously a responsible gambling body for the UK market, the Senet Group was established in September 2014 – but it hands over its duties as part of the BGC’s commitment to drive safer gambling across the industry.
The BGC was formed as an amalgamation of the Remote Gambling Association and the Association of British Bookmakers, and it now continues the centralisation of influence within the UK gambling sector.
The Senet Group currently manages the MOSES retail self-exclusion campaign and oversees the ‘When The Fun Stops Stop’ campaign.
Gillian Wilmot, Senet Chairman, said: “The collaborative ethos at the heart of the new Betting and Gaming Council now offers the opportunity to combine resources to deliver safer gambling initiatives at scale.”
Brigid Simmonds, Chairman of the BGC, said: “The cross-industry collaborative approach pioneered by Senet became a blueprint which made the creation of the new Betting and Gaming Council possible.
“I would like to thank the Senet board, headed by Gillian Wilmot, and the team led by Sarah Hanratty for their hard work, dedication and the legacy they leave through the Safer Gambling Commitments, which provide a roadmap for raising standards across our industry. We look forward to building on that work.”
GVC Holdings has announced Grainne Hurst will become its first Group Corporate Affairs Director, joining the executive committee team.
Hurst has been promoted from her previous role as GVC Director of Responsible Gambling, a position she’s held since March 2017.
The newly created position will allow the operator to build on its ambition to push responsible gambling, developing relationships with the media and external partners.
Hurst, who has previously served as a government special advisor, will take the role up returning from maternity leave next month.
Hurst said: “Ensuring GVC continues to lead the way in safe gambling, corporate social responsibility and regulatory affairs has never been so important.
“I am delighted to be joining the talented management team at GVC, following my maternity leave, as well as working with our industry and charitable partners to deliver a successful, sustainable and socially responsible business.”
GVC CEO Kenny Alexander added: “I am delighted to be promoting from within GVC, after an extensive external search, which proves we have the existing talent and expertise to develop our leadership team.”
In March, GVC reported a 2% year-on-year rise in 2019 pro forma group net gaming revenue, up to £3.66bn ($4.49bn).
The Stars Group has announced its proposed merger with Flutter Entertainment is still set to go ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak.
A special shareholder meeting will be held on 24 April to approve the all-share combination with Flutter, which will also provide updates on the merger and composition of its board of directors.
However, The Stars Group’s CEO Rafi Ashkenazi will not become COO as previously decided, but will instead take the role of consultant to Flutter, advising its CEO on Stars Group’s businesses related to the combined company.
The board of directors of both Stars Group and Flutter agreed, that although the coronavirus will have an affect on the industry, they still believe strongly in the strategic reasoning for the merger.
Flutter announced it will suspend its dividend for the current financial year ending 31 December 2020 and existing shareholders will be entitled to receive a final 2019 dividend of 133 pence per ordinary share, to be paid in Flutter shares instead of cash.
Both Stars Group and Flutter also agreed the Flutter board of directors will comprise of 15 directors until 31 December, with a total of nine Flutter directors during this period.
It was announced last October Flutter agreed to acquire Stars Group, to create a combined business with annual revenue of £3.8bn ($4.6bn).
William Hill’s incoming Chief Finance Officer has made a sudden u-turn informing its new employer that he has decided to keep his current CFO role at international packaging company DS Smith due to ongoing market uncertainty stemming from the global coronavirus crisis.
The British bookmaker announced in February that it has appointed Adrian Marsh as its new CFO. Mr. Marsh was supposed to replace Ruth Prior, who said in January that she would step down as CFO and Director of William Hill to return to the private equity sector.
Following news about Ms. Prior’s departure, the gambling operator said that it commenced a search for her successor and would announce Ms. Prior’s departure date in due course.
As for Mr. Marsh, he joined his current employer in September 2013 and has been serving as DS Smith’s group CFO for the past six and a half years. In June 2019, he joined multinational energy services company John Wood Group as Audit Chair.
Of his decision to stay with DS Smith, Mr. Marsh said:
A few months ago it seemed like a good time to move on to a new challenge. However, these are very strange times and my loyalties are to my colleagues and stakeholders in DS Smith.
William Hill said that Ms. Prior will continue in the CFO role for the time being.
The legacy bookmaker said that while it was too early to accurately determine the effect of the Covid-19 crisis, it has considered several scenarios that might occur in the coming months.
The coronavirus outbreak and the rapid spread of the highly contagious virus has brought gambling stocks to record lows and has wreaked unseen havoc in the sector.
William Hill said earlier this month that it expected full-year group EBITDA to slump by £100-110 million if UK and international football resumes in August, the UEFA Euro 2020 is postponed until next year, UK retail betting shops remain closed for a month, US sports resume in time for the new NFL season, and the Grand National and Royal Ascot are canceled.
William Hill’s estimates did not include the cancellation/postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee this week announced that the Games must now “be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”
The postponement of one of the biggest sporting events in the world would bring more losses to William Hill and other sports betting operators.
The Stars Group has declared it is performing ahead of expectations so far this year, despite the worldwide impact of the coronavirus.
The operator said its UK segment, which includes the Sky Betting & Gaming brand, has continued strong underlying momentum in Q1 2020, while international revenue is slightly ahead year-on-year, on a constant currency basis.
While The Stars Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi was happy with performance so far, sustained or further postponement of major sporting events will naturally affect short-term sports betting revenue.
The outbreak, which has seen nearly 175,000 reported cases worldwide, has led to the entire football league, from the Premier League down to League Two, suspended in England until at least early April, along with other major European leagues.
However, William Hill has said the impact of the virus is expected to reduce group EBITDA by £100m to £110m ($122m-$135m) for the year, citing the fact that last year 53% of its revenue was generated through sports betting.
The operator is also suspending its dividend until further notice, saying its 2019 final dividend will not be proposed at May’s AGM.
William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson, said: “We are taking action to maintain our operational capability, to secure and enhance our liquidity and to ensure we are in a strong position to resume full operations when the sporting calendar returns to normal.”
Meanwhile, GVC Holdings has estimated EBITDA will be reduced by approximately £130-150m for the year if major sporting events are cancelled.
If UK shops are closed, EBITDA would incrementally reduce by approximately £45-50m per month.
GVC CEO Kenny Alexander said: “While we do not underestimate the challenge presented by Covid-19, GVC is in a robust position to manage the impact on our operations.”
Gauselmann Group has acquired a majority stake in software supplier Bede Gaming.
The deal, described by German supplier Gauselmann as a “significant majority stake,” further expands its digital presence ahead of re-regulation of the German online market from 2021.
The acquisition will also allow Gauselmann to gain a foothold in the North American lottery market, with Bede Gaming a partner to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
Bede Gaming, headquartered in Newcastle, England, will continue to operate as an independent business within Gauselmann, while the management will still hold a stake in the company.
Gauselmann Group Founder and CEO Paul Gauselmann said: “Bede’s technological expertise is very impressive and its highly complex solutions are first choice for league gaming companies not only in the UK, but around the world.
“This acquisition will allow us to significantly broaden the existing technology base within the Group and at the same time enable us to offer it to our customers and partners.”
Bede Gaming Chairman Joe Saumarez-Smith added: “Gauselmann’s long-term prospects and financial strength will allow us to further enhance our range of products and services to existing customers, as well as win new business partners.”
Spotlight Sports Group, the recent rebrand of Racing Post Group, has formed a new partnership with Betfair Exchange.
Through the deal, the two companies will launch ‘Racing Post Live’ – a new show covering horseracing festivals throughout the year.
Covering more than 42 live racing events, the show will feature racing experts from Spotlight Sports Group and Betfair Exchange, offering tips, insight and reaction to horseracing.
Gethin Evans, Spotlight Sports Group Digital Marketing Director, said: “We are very excited to work on this innovative video proposition in partnership with the marketing at Betfair.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us as digital publishers, for Betfair as a real-time exchange education platform and for the sport of horseracing to get a true digital share of voice across our group, including the Racing Post and MyRacing channels.
“We have a great mix of in-house talent and external guests to provide live insight at major racedays and have some fun at the same time.”
In January, the Racing Post Group announced it was rebranding as Spotlight Sports Group in a bid to encapsulate the diversity of brands under the Racing Post Group umbrella.
Gambling Insider spoke with Spotlight Sports Group at the time to get its insight into the decision.
Gavin Hamilton, CEO of Red Tiger Gaming, has become the COO of NetEnt Group to focus on bringing product and commercial business units from both companies into one organisation.
The move will allow for greater collaboration and alignment on commercial priorities and the brands’ games roadmap, among other things.
Hamilton will, in addition to the role as COO of NetEnt Group, also remain as CEO of Red Tiger.
Therese Hillman, CEO of NetEnt Group, said: “The acquisition of Red Tiger has proven to present even greater potential than we expected, and we would like to initiate a full integration sooner, rather than later.
“Having a Group COO is key for us moving towards full integration and to capitalise on all opportunities. For this role I can think of no one better than Gavin.”
Hamilton said: “I am extremely excited to take on this role. Our success in the coming years will be determined by the decisions we make now on how we most effectively leverage our scale, people and technology.
“Closer collaboration will allow us to address the issues we face in increasing regulation and taxes in our core markets and will position us more effectively to take advantage of growth in new markets.”
Flutter Entertainment’s multi-billion merger with Canadian rival The Stars Group has received informal regulatory approval by Australia’s competition authority.
The approval comes as welcome news, but the mega-merger still requires formal approvals by a number of regulators in the countries where the two companies have significant presence.
Flutter announced today that its £10-billion all-share combination with The Stars Group has been granted informal approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
However, the mega-merger that will create one of the world’s biggest online betting and gaming company is still subject to approval by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and other regulatory bodies.
News about the informal approval of the tie-up in Australia emerge just a couple of weeks after UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it has opened a probe into the deal. A CMA review is among the mandatory regulatory hurdles Flutter and The Stars Group need to clear before being able to close the deal.
The CMA is set to probe whether the high-profile marriage of the two gambling powerhouses will hurt competition in the UK gambling market.
The combined entity will own some of the largest sports betting and gaming brands, including Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Betting & Gaming, and PokerStars, and will have more than 13 million active customers in over 100 international gambling markets.
Deal Expected to Close in Q2
Flutter and The Stars Group announced their tie-up in October 2019. The deal, if allowed to go ahead by all competent authorities, will create one of the world’s largest gambling operators. The merger is expected to close at some point in the second quarter of the year, subject to approvals and other customary conditions.
The two major operators are targeting cost synergies of £140 million per year by the end of their third full year as a combined group.
Flutter and The Stars Group also hope to use their combined strength to secure a bigger slice in the US sports betting market where a recently annulled federal ban on athletic gambling has caused a stampede, with more and more companies looking to tap into the lucrative space.
In the US, The Stars Group provides online gaming and sports betting services in several states through its PokerStars and FOX Bet brands. The latter operation was launched as a result from the Canadian gambling company’s partnership with sports media giant FOX Sports.
As for Flutter, it conducts activities through its Betfair and FanDuel brands. FanDuel, the daily fantasy sports turned sports betting operator has claimed and been holding the lead in the important New Jersey sports betting market.
In Australia, the combined group will easily dominate the market. Flutter’s Sportsbet is the second largest sports betting operator, and The Stars Group’s BetEasy is the third largest sports betting operator.