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eSports betting could eventually "necessitate some specific regulations"

The British Gambling Commission (‘GC’) has confirmed in its Annual Report and Accounts 2015-16, published on 13 July 2016, that eSports betting will be an area for its continued focus, with the GC highlighting the emergence of real-money betting markets in eSports and the trading of in-game content ‘which blur the lines between gambling and social gaming.’

eSports is competitive video gaming, with large prize pools won in national and international competitions; the global wagering market for eSports is estimated to reach $23 billion by 2020, according to data analysis company Betradar. The GC plans to focus on engaging with key stakeholders and will work wherever it can to ensure the risks posed, particularly to young people, are minimised.

“Only once a comprehensive risk assessment of eSports betting has been undertaken by the GC (and other national regulators) can recommendations properly be made,” said Kevin Carpenter, Consultant at Ramparts and Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel for the eSport Integrity Coalition (‘ESIC’). “The unique nature of the market, in particular skins betting, will in my opinion necessitate some specific regulations, policies or framework to be developed and implemented to protect consumers.”

Betting in-game content, often referred to as skins - virtual items such as outfits or customised weapons - has become commonplace, including amongst young gamers who are under the legal age to gamble. “Along with the integrity of eSports betting, undoubtedly the other major area of concern is in relation to the availability of eSports betting to young eSports players and followers,” said Carpenter. “This is particularly the case once again with skins betting. One could certainly view this as a new element of child protection policies in sport. Yet with no recognised governing body or proper regulation of eSports or eSports betting this would currently have to be done on a voluntary basis or be imposed using existing child protection laws in individual countries/jurisdictions.”

On 19 July 2016, Valve, creator of the popular CS:GO game, took action of its own to shut down illegal skin betting websites by issuing cease and desist letters to 23 websites that allow users to verify their accounts through an OpenID API, which hides a user’s identity and creates bot accounts to access Valve’s online marketplace, Steam, in order to bet anonymously. This action violates the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement, which prohibits commercial use of the platform.

Malta’s new skill-based exemption for fantasy sports

Malta has taken the step to differentiate between fantasy sports - which are deemed a game of skill - from games of chance, by providing an exemption for fantasy sports games under the Maltese gambling regime in order for them to benefit from ‘light touch’ regulation. The proposal has been sent to the European Commission for approval. Bas Jongmans, Gaming Attorney at Gaming Legal Group, sheds light on the exemption of pure games of skill under Maltese gambling law and the ambiguities inherent in effectively qualifying a pure game of skill, which could mean the proposed regime is ineffective.

Paddy Power Betfair cites sports growth as revenue rises

4 November 2016

Paddy Power Betfair has that said a year-on-year increase in revenue during the three months to September 30 was driven by growth within its sports betting business.

Revenue in the third quarter amounted to £404 million (€453.9 million/$503.7 million), which represents a 25% increase and a 15% rise in constant currency.

Sportsbook stakes climbed 26%, or 14% in constant currency, and were boosted by a strong end to the Euro 2016 national football team tournament.

Underlying EBITDA was up by 53% to £113 million, with an increased margin of 28%, while underlying operating profit jumped 68% to £95 million.

As a result of its performance in the third quarter, Paddy Power Betfair, which was formed earlier this year through the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair, said it now forecasts that it will achieve better-than-expected full-year results, with underlying EBITDA to amount to between £390 million and £405 million.

Breon Corcoran, chief executive of Paddy Power Betfair, said: “This was another good quarter for Paddy Power Betfair; we are continuing to focus on building a stronger combined operation by exploiting the unique assets and capabilities of each legacy business, and on using our scale to better serve our customers.

“Work is underway to combine the best of Betfair and Paddy Power’s technology into a multi-brand, multi-channel, multi-jurisdictional platform that will start to unlock the full potential of the group’s scale and will lead to increased pace of development and faster roll out of new products.”

Scientific Games hails social gaming success in third quarter

4 November 2016

Scientific Games has cited growth within its social gaming and gaming machine divisions as key reasons behind a year-on-year rise in revenue during the three months to September 30.

Revenue amounted to $720 million (€648.6 million) in the third quarter, up 7% on the corresponding period last year.

The company’s social gaming business experienced a revenue increase of 81% in the quarter, while gaming machine sales were also up by 22% year-on-year.

Operating income for the overall business came in at a plus of $33.5 million, up from negative $988.2 million in the third quarter of 2015, which included a $935 million goodwill impairment charge and $103.6 million of impairment charges for certain intangible assets.

Meanwhile, net loss improved from just under $1.1 billion last year to $98.9 million in the most recent quarter, with attributable EBITDA also up by 3% to $271.6 million.

Net cash from operating activities rose 7% to $150.9 million, while Scientific Games was also able to pay down a total of $42.4 million of debt in the quarter.

Cash and availability under the firm’s revolving credit facility totalled $607.3 million as of the end of September.

“Scientific Games is focused on building momentum; the dedicated efforts of our employees combined with the benefits that our products and technology solutions deliver to our gaming, lottery and interactive customers and players led to year-over-year increases in revenue, AEBITDA and free cash flow,” chief executive and president, Kevin Sheehan, said.

“As we look forward, it is time to transform the way we operate by creating a simpler, more efficient and nimble organisation with a laser focus on our core businesses.

“Our priorities are to drive further innovation to create new, differentiated products for our customers that power growth; focus on prudent fiscal management to improve financial returns and free cash flow to accelerate deleveraging; and build a corporate culture open to new ideas and opportunities that help to accelerate our progress.”

Michael Quartieri, executive vice-president and chief financial officer, added: “We are increasing our concentration on disciplined cost management with process improvement and lean initiatives across our global businesses.”

GVC resumes dividend, adjusts full-year revenue forecast

4 November 2016

GVC, the company behind the and PartyPoker brands, has announced that it will pass on a dividend to shareholders despite previously ruling out a pay-out this year.

The firm confirmed the news by announcing a 10c per share special dividend for the current year, despite having previously said it would take a ‘dividend holiday’ in 2016 under the terms of its Cerberus loan facility.

However, GVC said the loan would be repaid by the start of February next year and replaced with a cheaper Nomura debt.

In addition to the dividend, which will be paid in February, GVC has announced a policy of distributing 50% of annualised free cash flow split 40% and 60% for the first and second half, respectively.

Meanwhile, the company has published a trading update for the third quarter of the current year, during which net gaming revenue increased by 12% year-on-year and 15% at constant currency.

As a result, GVC has increased its full-year revenue forecast to €885 million ($982.5 million), up from €860 million, although profit expectations remain unchanged.

iSoftBet set to scare with ‘Paranormal Activity’ slot

3 November 2016

iSoftBet has launched a new digital slot machine game based on horror film franchise ‘Paranormal Activity’.

The five-reel, three-row title includes various themes that fans of the Paramount Pictures movie will be familiar with.

Players will also benefit from special features such as wilds, bonus games, free spins and scatters.

Nir Elbaz, managing director of iSoftBet, said: “Branded games drive player popularity, as it gives fans a chance to interact with their favourite franchises in the form of a slot machine.

“We are excited to launch a branded game based on one of the most popular horror franchises in Hollywood.”

The original 'Paranormal Activity' movie was released in 2007 and generated almost $900 million (€810.0 million) at the box office.

'Paranormal Activity' is iSoftBet's latest branded title in association with a major TV and movie studio, following the release of games such as 'Platoon' and '24'.

Digital Fuel forms betting-focused division

3 November 2016

Australia-based agency Digital Fuel Marketing has established a new entity that will focus on content, new technology, development, and products for the sports, racing and betting sector.

Digital Fuel Innovations (DFI) will aim to nurture new online gaming ideas in Australia, as well as further afield.

Toby Oddy, chief executive and founder of Digital Fuel, and Edward Beesley, strategy consultant and founder of TSoK Consultancy, both of whom have a wealth of experience in the gaming and wagering industry, will head up the new offshoot business.

As part of the new launch, DFI sell into and manage the relationships between Chroma Sports and wagering operators.

“With the Chroma Sports feather in our cap, DFI will quickly become a brand synonymous with excellence in the market, renowned for our all-important ability to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the ever-changing and challenging wagering landscape,” Oddy said.

Paddy O’ Clery, chief executive of Chroma, added: “Working with Digital Fuel Innovations we will not only make the right connections, we will also be able to utilise their unparalleled experience within the gaming sector, from strategic planning and commercial insight to activation and marketing skills.”

William Hill hit by ‘significant’ DDoS attack

3 November 2016

William Hill has revealed that a “significant” distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was behind a loss of service earlier this week.

On Tuesday, many customers were unable to access the William Hill website, with problems regarding an intermittent service continuing into Wednesday.

In a statement, the bookmaker said it was one of a number of online companies to have suffered an increase in third-party DDoS attacks in recent weeks, and its technical team has been working to fix the problem.

“The online services of William Hill were intermittently impacted during the course of yesterday following DDoS activity by third parties,” William Hill said in a statement published by the Racing Post.

"This follows a significant increase in DDoS activity experienced by a number of online companies over recent weeks.

"While the attempt at disruption is ongoing our technical teams were able to restore services last night [Tuesday].

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers.”

New York set to surpass Nevada in gaming tax revenue

7 November 2016

The US state of New York is on track to generate more casino tax revenue than Nevada in the current year, according to a new report by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

In 2015, New York collected $888.4 million (€803.2 million) in tax revenue, 2.8% more than in the previous year, while Nevada generated $889.1 million, 0.87% up on the previous year.

However, according to the AGA, should trends continue, New York will overtake Nevada with this year's figures and move into third place for collecting tax revenue from casinos within its borders.

Pennsylvania is some way out in front, despite only having legalised casinos in 2004, but is boosted by a 55% tax rate in slot machines and 16% for table games.

The state is also in the process of deciding whether to legalise online gambling, which could further boost overall figures.

New Jersey is currently ranked second in the US market, although its position is under threat, with 2015 being the ninth consecutive year of revenue decline, despite an improving online gaming sector.

While Nevada is in danger of slipping down the list, it is far ahead of top state Pennsylvania in terms of gross gaming revenue from casinos, posting $11.11 billion in 2015, compared to $3.17 billion in Pennsylvania.

Betclic expands in-play offering with Betgenius

7 November 2016

Pan-European operator Betclic Everest Group has bolstered its in-play services through a new partnership with Betgenius.

Under the three-year agreement, which began earlier this month, Betgenius will provide over 130,000 in-play events per year across all Betclic and Expekt brands and territories.

Each year, Betgenius offers pre-match and in-play data on more than 300,000 sporting events, across over 25 sports.

“As part of our product strategy, we are always aiming to increase our offer to the benefit of our punters, and automation of sports in-play is one of the key areas to achieve this goal,” Betclic product and innovation director, Pascal Brouet, said.

“Our clients will be able to bet on more than 130,000 in-play events a year; this doubles our live football events and multiplies our live basketball coverage by four.”

Jack Davison, Betgenius managing director, added: “We are constantly growing and improving our offering to be able to service the most ambitious and demanding of customers.

“Our deal with Betclic Everest Group – a recognised pan-European heavyweight of the industry – consolidates our position as the provider of the highest quality in-play trading services in the market.

Red Tiger appoints Ejlertsson to senior role

4 November 2016

Online slots company Red Tiger Gaming has appointed Carl Ejlertsson as account director.

Ejlertsson, who previously served as casino insight lead at Betsson Group, will be working directly with Red Tiger clients.

In addition, Ejlertsson will advise the company’s development studio on its new suite of Scandinavian-targeted games.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be joining at a time when Red Tiger is growing so fast, especially in new regions across Europe,” Ejlertsson said.

“Scandinavia is an important market for us and players there have very high expectations of quality and entertainment.”

A Red Tiger spokesperson added: “We are delighted to welcome Carl to the team; his passion and considerable knowledge of Scandinavian players are an asset to the company.

“A key dimension to our success has been a strong focus on localisation of game math, theme and features. This appointment will inevitably add to that success

Coral to sponsor snooker’s Home Nations

4 November 2016

Coral has agreed to become title sponsor of World Snooker’s new Home Nations series.

The deal covers the three remaining events of the 2016-17 series, comprising the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open and Welsh Open, while the series will now be known as the Coral Home Nations Series.

The bookmaker, which this week completed its merger with Ladbrokes, was also title sponsor of the series’ opening event, the English Open, which took place from October 10-16 in Manchester.

“We are thrilled to have Coral on board for all four tournaments and to have their brand associated with this new series,” World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said.

Simon Clare, PR director at Coral, added: “The addition of the sponsorship of the Coral Home Nation Series, and the Coral English, Welsh, Northern Ireland and Scottish Opens that make up the series, to our existing sponsorship of the Coral Snooker Shootout, is testimony to the popularity and appeal of the sport of snooker amongst all sports fans and to how professional and enthusiastic the World Snooker team are to work with.

EveryMatrix adds content from Booming Games

4 November 2016

EveryMatrix has expanded its portfolio of gaming content with the addition of casino titles from Booming Games.

Customers will now have access to more than 60 titles from Booming Games.

Booming Games is known for slots such as ‘Booming 7’, ‘Joker’s Wild’ and ‘Oh! Catrina’, as well as new titles including ‘Shark Meet’ and ‘Desert Drag’.

“We have been driven time and time again by a strong conviction to consistently provide our clients with a large selection of games that can respond to their commercial needs,” EveryMatrix chief executive Ebbe Groes said.

“The original portfolio from Booming Games allows our clients to address new audiences and positions our casino product as the largest casino aggregator in the market.”

Frederik Niehusen, head of business development at Booming Games, added: “We are thrilled to be partnering with EveryMatrix who have an impeccable track record in providing software solutions and look forward to working with such accomplished experts in the iGaming industry.

“The CasinoEngine platform allows us to increase and extend our reach, catering to new audiences while garnering new clients.”

GIG reveals revenue growth in third quarter

4 November 2016

Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) has reported significant revenue growth in the three months to September 30, a period in which it completed its acquisition of Betit.

Operating revenue for the third quarter came in at €14.5 million ($16.1 million), including €2.7 million from Betit, thus representing an increase of 50% on the total collected in the second quarter of this year.

B2C revenue amounted to €11.4 million, up 76% from Q2, B2B revenue climbed 6% to €4.9 million, while organic revenue grew 23% quarter-on-quarter.

Meanwhile, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew from €960,000 to €1.07 million, including  €340,000 in transaction expenses, while marketing expenses increased from €3.6 million in Q2 to €5.4 million.

The full third-quarter results come after GIG in September announced that it generated record levels of revenue in August.

Robin Reed, chief executive of GIG, said: “During the recent year we have successfully transformed from a marketing firm to a technology company.

“We have throughout this period recruited approximately 250 new employees and built a strong organisation to secure growth and develop the company further.

“We have exceeded our goal of 20 signed iGC-clients by year end, a result of the efforts of our highly-skilled employees and the company’s innovative solutions.

Viral claims world-first with ‘Free Spin Shop’

8 November 2016

Viral, the white-label multi-channel casino and betting solutions provider, has launched what it said is the world’s first ‘Free Spin Shop’.

The company said that the new product has been designed to help boost player engagement.

Players can browse all available games and free spins in a shop, and select their favourite games with up to 500 free spins, with LuckyCasino the first brand to go live with the service.

Daniel Eriksson chief executive of Viral said: “We have spent considerable time talking to players and understanding their behaviour; the development of the Free Spin Shop was a direct result of those player focus groups.

“The shop provides a stronger engagement and retention tool, which is all configurable from the back office, coupled with a presentation shopping style UI that is familiar with the largest percentage of the online population

Medialivecasino lands ScommesseItalia deal

8 November 2016

Authorised Italian online gaming ScommesseItalia has entered a partnership with Medialivecasino.

Under the deal, Medialivecasino will provide ScommesseItalia with a selection of live games.

ScommesseItalia operates 110 direct betting shops and 1,200 charging points in Italy.

“Our Italian project is ambitious and we were looking for a new provider of live games ready for this challenge,” ScommesseItalia commercial director Vincenzo Ruta said.

“The choice fell on Medialive as it offers the highest level of gaming experience and has an innovative solution specific for our 110 betting shops throughout the country.”

Angelo De Gobbi, head of sales and marketing at Medialivecasino, added: “Being selected in place of one of our competitors only confirms the quality of our games.

“I am sure that this partnership will bring great satisfaction thanks to the offer, in all the betting shops, of our new product: maxi-screen live roulette.”

Iforium expands Gameflex platform with Link2Win

8 November 2016

Iforium has secured a multi-year content partnership with Link2Win.

Gameplay system Link2Win will provide over 15 games from its ‘Linka’ range to Iforium’s Gameflex casino platform.

Content on offer will include bingo, slot and keno ‘Linka’ themed desktop and mobile games, with titles such as ‘Diamond Links’, ‘Jungle Linka’ and ‘Pool Linka’.

“This is a valuable endorsement for our product portfolio from a multi award-winning business, and the latest example of Link2Win’s growing reputation in the industry,” Link2Win chief operating officer Richard Clarke said.

“Our vision is to use our unique system to expand gaming by transforming this technology into entertaining gaming experiences across multiple gaming sectors.”

Phil Parry, chief executive of Iforium, added: “Link2Win’s innovative number-orientated content is engaging and their unique lgames will add another vertical of both quality and differentiation within our Gameflex platform.

“I look forward to working closely with the Link2Win team and assisting them in the distribution of their content across multiple markets via Gameflex.”

Caesars boosted by sale of interactive division

9 November 2016

Caesars Acquisition Company (CACQ) has cited the sale of its Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) subsidiary as one of the key reasons behind profit growth during the three months to September 30.

The company completed the sale its social and mobile games arm on September 23 for $4.4 billion (€4 billion), recognising a gain of approximately $4.2 billion.

As a result, net income from discontinued operations in the third quarter came in at just over $4 billion, compared to $37.3 million in the corresponding period last year.

Net revenue at the firm amounted to $422.5 million, up from $417.7 million, with adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) also increasing 5.7% year-on-year to $102.1 million.

However, income from operations dropped to a loss of $107.1 million, while net loss from continuing operations came in at $163.7 million.

CACQ said revenue for the year to the end of September now stands at $1.3 billion, 5.5% more than at the same point last year, while adjusted EBITDA is up 19.3% year-on-year to $324.2 million.

Net income from discontinued operations amounted to just under $4.1 billion, with income from operations at a loss of $20.3 million loss from continuing operations at $160.2 million.

Cherry growth ‘faster than the market’ in third quarter

9 November 2016

Cherry has said it grew “substantially faster than the market” during the three months to September 30, after recording widespread financial growth.

Revenue in the third quarter amounted to SEK214 million (€21.4 million/$23.8 million), up 39% on the SEK154.1 million posted in the same period last year.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jumped 78% year-on-year to SEK30.9 million, while earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) increased to SEK21.5 million, despite the impact of acquisition costs for ComeOn and Nasdaq listing costs.

Cherry noted that online gaming revenue hiked 39%, with EBITDA up to SEK18.1 million, not including ComeOn and Game Lounge.

Revenue from the firm’s Yggdrasil Gaming arm rocketed 385% to SEK9.2 million, while revenue at Game Lounge increased 104% year-on-year to SEK6 million.

Group revenue for the nine months through to September 30 stood at SEK583 million, 64% than the SEK356 million posted at the same point last year.

EBITDA rocketed 472% year-on-year to SEK714 million, EBIT improved from a loss of SEK3.1 million to a positive of SEK45 million, with online gaming revenue also up 78%.

Fredrik Burvall, chief executive of Cherry, said: “Cherry continues to grow substantially faster than the market.

“For the third quarter, organic growth amounted to 38% and total growth to 39%. The formula for success is based on the strategy Cherry implemented two years ago, in which we have developed our business areas and added strategic acquisitions of fast-growing companies where the founders and entrepreneurs continue to stay active in the business.

“Today, Cherry is an innovative and fast-growing gaming company, operating across a broad part of the gaming value chain.

“Our business areas provide Cherry with diversified and profitable revenues from four separate and strong business areas, with the potential for strong onwards development.

“Our ambition is to continue to grow faster than the market, and we are well prepared to do this, both through organic growth and via acquisitions.”