Gambling Insider Jul/Aug 2022

Page 1

Jul/Aug 2022

IMMOVABLE As the Hippodrome Casino celebrates its 10th anniversary, we explore why land-based gambling has been part of human culture since time immemorial

ROUNDTABLE

B2B suppliers discuss the importance of gambling streamers

BIG QUESTION We look at what the future holds for the lottery sector KAMBI REVIEW Gambling Insider covers Kambi’s Festival of Sportsbook




EDITOR’S LETTER COO, EDITOR IN CHIEF Julian Perry EDITOR Tim Poole Tim.Poole@gamblinginsider.com STAFF WRITER Peter Lynch Peter.Lynch@gamblinginsider.com JUNIOR STAFF WRITER Louis Thompsett Louis.Thompsett@gamblinginsider.com LEAD DESIGNER Brendan Morrell DESIGNERS Olesya Adamska, Christian Quiling

I

Julian Perry, COO, Editor in Chief

Tim Poole, Editor

It's very easy to get lost in the buzz of a land-based casino. During our visit to the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, where we host the Global Gaming Awards London every year, it was bizarre to hear the entrance we walked through would have been frequented by elephants around a century ago. Formerly a circus – playing host to names like Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini and Anna Pavlova throughout the 20th century – the Hippodrome's rich history is reflected within its walls, even if it is constantly looking to the future and, as Executive Chairman Simon Thomas puts it, "striving for change." Although we give you a very in-depth five-page feature on the Hippodrome on pages 24-30, the main theme of this issue explores land-based casinos more generally – their popularity, their longevity and their future prospects in an increasingly online world. Like I said, it's very easy to get lost in the buzz of a casino and, when you're there, amid flashing lights, five-star restaurants and table games aplenty, you can see exactly why casinos are inherent to gambling culture: and probably always will be. Noël Leise, Director of Operations at Holland Casino, is another of our interviewees in this magazine, as he discusses the importance of poker (from a branding sense rather than a revenue POV). In the Netherlands, casino staffing is a pressing issue, which is something Paul Sculpher addressed for the UK market, too, in our March/April edition. Sculpher is back in this issue, encouraging sustainability within the US market. It's a warning I think the industry needs to acknowledge but, if history is anything to go by, might well go unignored until any potential damage is done. Among our esteemed list of contributors joining Sculpher are Alex Czajkowski, who looks at things from the player's perspective, Ranjana Adhikari, who gives us a "half-time" update for Indian gaming regulation in 2022 and, making her debut, Caroline Ponseti, who articulates a persuasive argument that gaming commentators should use more mainstream language. Perhaps we can all, Gambling Insider included, take note. Although we have plenty, plenty more in this issue (trust me), I will dedicate one final note to our review of Kambi's Festival of Sportsbook. It was a pleasure for Gambling Insider to partner with the sportsbook supplier during the online event – and there is much to be gleaned here for readers interested in which direction the sports betting market is heading in the coming years. From strength to strength we go. TP, Editor

FEATURED IN THIS ISSUE

DESIGN ASSISTANTS Radostina Mihaylova, Svetlana Stoyanova, Gabriela Baleva MARKETING & EVENTS MANAGER Mariya Savova FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT Julia Olivan IT MANAGER Tom Powling COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Deepak Malkani Deepak.Malkani@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 6279 SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGERS Michael Juqula Michael.Juqula@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3487 0498 Martin Dilleigh Martin.Dilleigh@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0) 203 435 5628 SENIOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER - U.S. Aaron Harvey Aaron.Harvey@playerspublishing.com Tel: +1 702 425 7818 ADVERTISING SALES EXECUTIVE - U.S. Ariel Greenberg ariel.greenberg@playerspublishing.com Tel: +1.702 833 9581 ACCOUNT MANAGERS William Aderele William.Aderele@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 2062 Clive Waite Clive.Waite@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 0643 Sarah Dorsett Sarah.Dorsett@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)207 739 9918 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Michelle Pugh Michelle@GlobalGamingAwards.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 5768 CREDIT MANAGER Rachel Voit WITH THANKS TO: Fantini Research, GBGC, Marinos Shiapanis, Carolyn Becker, Simon Thomas, Noël Leise, Todd Simms, Susan O’Leary, Andrew Lyman, Paul Sculpher, Ozric Vondervelden, Phillip O’Driscoll, Paul Burns, Christian Polsäter, Zeno Ossko, Ranjana Adhikari, Will Whitehead, Julin Shaw, Wayne Pickup, Alex Czajkowski, Ivan Montik, Vladimir Malakchi, Jean Venneman, Razvan Haiduc, Marija Hammon, Dima Reiderman, Karl Zammit, Caroline Ponseti, Marina Ostrovtsova, Karim Chikh, Richard Gale Gambling Insider magazine ISSN 2043-9466 Produced and published by Players Publishing Ltd

NOËL LEISE

Holland Casino, Director of Operations

JEAN VENNEMAN

Gaming Arts, COO

All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is forbidden. Every care is taken in compiling the contents of Gambling Insider but we assume no responsibility for the effects arising therefrom. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher.



CONT E 24

38

ISSUES

HUDDLE

08 Facing Facts

18 The full stack

Gambling Insider takes a close statistical look at various results from Q1 2022

10 In numbers

A gaming snapshot by Fantini Research, this time looking at data from Nevada, with a focus on Las Vegas

14 The global outlook

Global Betting & Gaming Consultants, the global gaming data expert, provides exclusive data to Gambling Insider

16 Taking stock

We track operator and supplier stock prices across a six-month period

Campeón's Co-Founder & CEO, Marinos Shiapanis, speaks to the GI Huddle about the value of proprietary platforms

20 Unregulated? Unreliable California State Lottery's Deputy Director of Public Affairs & Communications, Carolyn Becker, speaks to the GI Huddle

GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS 22 The Global Gaming Awards head to Asia

54

COVER FEATURE 24 Immovable

Gambling Insider Editor Tim Poole visits the Hippodrome Casino ahead of its 10th anniversary

FEATURES 32 More than gambling

Holland Casino Director of Operations Noël Leise reveals discusses the operator's ambitions

34 Shifting buying patterns Todd Sims, SuzoHapp VP of Sales, Americas, picks out the latest trends in the gaming industry


ENTS 64

38 Jurisdictions: Gibraltar & Alderney

Alderney eGambling CEO Susan O'Leary, and Andrew Lyman, Executive Director and Gambling Commissioner of Gibraltar, clear up the grey area of pre-regulated, offshore jurisdictions

40 Sustainability in the US

Gambling Insider regular Paul Sculpher speaks to industry experts about the dangers of unchecked expansion

42 Abusing the system

Ozric Vondervelden and Phillip O'Driscoll compare the proliferation of bonus abusers in US and UK markets

46 Review: Kambi Festival of Sportsbook

Kambi's week-long event in partnership with Gambling Insider delved further into the world of sports betting

50 "Half-time" for Indian gaming

Ranjana Adhikari, Partner at Induslaw, discusses the Good, the Bad & the Ugly for Gaming in India

82

72

54 Big Question

What does the future look like for lottery – both retail and online?

60 From the players' side

IGaming marketeer Alex Czajkowski bids to encourage sustainability among casino brands

62 The solution is selling service

CEO & Founder of Softswiss, Ivan Montik, speaks to Gambling Insider about the importance of placing people at the heart of a business

64 Roundtable: B2B suppliers Vladimir Malakchi, Jean Venneman, Razvan Haiduc & Marija Hammon discuss the role of B2B suppliers in the gambling industry

INSIDERS 70 Dima Reiderman BtoBet

71 Karl Zammit PandaScore

72 Caroline Ponseti The Herald Group

73 Richard Gale XLMedia

PRODUCT REVIEWS 74 What's new in online gaming

Gambling Insider takes a close look at some of the exciting products that are now available online

FINAL WORD 82 Marina Ostrovtsova BGaming


Other 2.0%

25

FEATURES

300,000

21.3

Sportsbook

15 NUMBER CRUNCHING

33.0%

20

14

asino

16.9

200,000

15

5.0%

FACING FACTS

13.2

10.6

10

10

10 10

5

100,000

5.1

400

15

3

2.6

5

8.8

300

14 UK & Ireland with Gambling Insider looks at Q1 2022 results from across growth Nordics the industry, Rest of Europe Rest ofin World

0

0

4 Latin America, Europe3 and the US: but downturns in Asia 1 0 MGM Resorts International Q1 2021 and Q1 2022 revenue by region ($ million)

2021

2022

2021 400

15

Other 2.0%

14

1500 Central & Eastern Europe

711.3

10 10

13.0%Las Vegas

Regional Operations

2.0%

95.1

MGM China 22.0%

32.20

4

102 Esports Tennis Football Table Volleyball Pool 87EBITDA Profit Tennis74

3

7

Ferry Operations and other

0 10

1 0

0 Nordic 32.0%

16.9

15

10

Westem Europe

20005

Casino

13.2

10.6

25.84

O

5

21.3

Central & 20 Eastern Europe 31.0%

65.0%

8.8

Latin America

Revenue ($million)

1,662.903

2.6

2.0%

22.0%

5.1

400

Other 2.0%

300

1500

0

Central & Eastern Europe

Nordic

31.0%

32.0%

8.02

10

7.31

6.34

7.75

8.3

January

Westem Europe February Revenue ($million) 13.0%

Rest of Europe

Rest of World

Sportsbook

200

33.0%

711.3

March

1500

100

Casino

296.3 268.30

65.0% Latin America 22.0%

Source: Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) • Total Q1 gross gaming revenue amounted to MOP17.77bn ($2.20bn) 1,662.90 • Q1 gross gaming revenue down 25%(MOP frombillion) Q1 2021; as is emphatically Grosswas gaming revenue clear, though, gaming is significantly down on pre-pandemic levels

2000

0

30

95.1

Las Vegas Strip Resorts

Regional Operations

Revenue ($million) MGM China

227

200

890.80

711.3

15

544.9

100

296.3 268.30

170 137 121

87 74

32.20

Management & other operations

400 Source: Company reports 25.84 25.37 340 in Latin America, but its main revenue still • Betsson saw 24.94growth 25 comes from Europe 300 accounts for the large majority of Betsson's revenue • Casino

20

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

UK & Ireland

890.80

1000

500

3.67

0

Nordics

544.9

5

500

Sands Macau

5 15

2.0%

25

Rest of World

15

8

10 20

0

13.0%

1000

1

170

Betsson Q1 2022 revenue by region & product

Number of alerts

20

15 25

137 121

The Venetian The Londoner The Parisian The Plaza Macau Macau Macau Macau and Four Seasons Macau

Tennis Football Table Volleyball Pool Esports Tennis 2021 2022

30

25

3

Rest of World

33.0% Macau 2019 pre-pandemic, Q1 2021 Comparing & Q1 2022 gross gaming revenue (MOP billion)

25.37

Revenue

100

197.7 132

5

Sportsbook

24.94

Sportsbook

0

Management & other operations

Source: Company reports • Q1 2022 revenue amounted to $2.85bn • This represented a 73% year-on-year increase

2019 (Pre-pandemic)

4

160.1

20

Source: Company reports 35 20 Number of alerts • Q1 2022 revenue increased 39% year-on-year 8 0 • Q1 2022 EBITDA and profit were up 43% and 50% respectively

65.0%

Latin America

Strip Resorts

Other

Casino

296.3 268.30 Westem Europe

229.7

235.8

33.0%

10

500

0

300

32.0%

544.9 3.67

5

200

100200

Nordic

25

340

300

227

890.80

1000 31.0%

Revenue 2022($million)

326.8

400

1,662.90 Rest of World 2.0%

0

10 10

Revenue ($million) 2000

100

10

Evolution Q1 2021 and Q1 2022 revenue, EBITDA and profit (€ million)

Tennis Football Table Volleyball Pool Esports Tennis

Number of alerts

200

102 35

0


16.9

193,428

200,000

15

10

8.8

0

326.8

235.8

200

15 229.7

14

132

Revenue

25

227

16.9 15

200

100 25

10

102

87 74

35 20

4

The Venetian The Londoner The Parisian The Plaza Macau Macau Macau Macau and Four Seasons Macau 16.9

400

326.8

Sands Macau

3

229.7 10.6

235.8

100

300,000

0

Nordics 200,000

UK & Ireland

193,428

Rest of Europe

186,510

219,841

8.8 5.1

Number of alerts Source: International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA)

Rest of World

174,751

Source: Company reports 100,000 • Q1 2022 revenue amounted to €46.3m ($48.7m) • Revenue was up 32% year-on-year

3

0

2.6 • Tennis had the highestEBITDA alerts, with table tennis a notable placement Profit Revenue as well. With one alert, esports also made it onto the list Nordics

UK & Ireland

Rest of Europe

0

Rest of World

2021

Other Q1 2020

21.3

Revenue ($million)

20 31.0%400

20

200,000

300

Casino

13.2

10.6

200

10

137 121

13.0% 100

0

Nordics

gement & operations

Latin America

87 74

281,092

33.0%

193,428

186,510

219,841 16.9

174,751

15

13.2 10.6

8.8

100,000 10

8.8

102 22.0% 5.1

3

2.6 0

65.0%

170

Westem Europe 5

275,876

21.3

16.9

227

Q1 2022

Sportsbook

32.0%

340 15

Q1 2021

Revenue ($million)

300,000 25

Nordic

Returning Depositing Customers (RDCs)

2.0%

2022

25

Central & Eastern Europe

New Depositing Customers (NDCs)

LeoVegas new and returning customers

Rest of WorldQ1 2021 and Q1 2022 revenue for Las Vegas Sands Macau Operations ($ million) 2.0%

35 20 The Venetian The Londoner The Parisian The Plaza Ireland Rest ofMacau Europe Macau UK & Macau Macau and Four Seasons Macau

Sands

5.1 5

8

7

0

Ferry Operations

0

Rest of Worldand other Macau

Source: Company reports • Q1 2022 revenue for Macau Operations amounted to $551m • Revenue was down across the board for Las Vegas Sands, which coincided with the operator also posting a heavy $478m net loss for Q1

2.6

3

New Depositing Customers (NDCs) Nordics UK & Ireland

Returning Depositing Customers (RDCs) Rest of Europe Rest of World

Source: Company reports • New Depositing Customers declined 10% from Q1 2020 to 2022 • Returning Depositing Customers increased 28% from Q1 2020 to 2022, suggesting a growing emphasis on player retention Revenue ($million)

Revenue ($million)

25

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

21.3

400

30

14

281,092

0

197.7

5 • Q1 2022 alerts were down 39% from Q1 2021

0

32.20

275,876

3

2.6

7

Ferry Operations and other

160.1 Table Volleyball Pool Esports Tennis Football 132 Tennis

10

5

8

1 13.2

15

8.8 5.1

5

21.3 0 20

13.2 10.6

170 137 121

200

20

10 10

300

300

21.3

10

Profit

EBITDA

340

2022

Revenue ($million)

Revenue ($million)

400 0

Returning Depositing

2021

197.7

160.1

100

32.20

New Depositing

UK & Ireland of Europe of World IBIA suspicious bettingRestalerts for Q1Rest2022

300

14

Customers (NDCs) (RDCs) Aspire Global Q1 2022 andCustomers Q1 2021 revenue by region (€ million)

Nordics

400

FEATURES

NUMBER CRUNCHING

3

2.6

ment & rations

100,000

5.1

0

174,751

13.2

10.6

5

186,510

340

20

16.9

9


ISSUES

FANTINI RESEARCH

IN NUMBERS In partnership with Gambling Insider, Fantini Research provides data from around the US; as we dive deep into the figures from Nevada this April NEVADA: This was an impressive April for the Las Vegas Strip, as it achieved $1bn+ in revenue for the 14th straight month. The wider Nevada market did not fare as well, however, including Las Vegas areas outside the Strip.

APRIL REVENUE (M)

%CHANGE YEAR-ON-YEAR

Nevada

$1.128bn

+8.57

Clark County

$960.479

+10.99

Las Vegas Strip

$593.463

+22.78

Downtown LV

$67.365

+11.37

North LV

$24.802

-5.90

Laughlin

$45.737

+0.55

Boulder Strip

$72.490

-10.31

Mesquite

$16.639

+7.23

Balance of County

$139.983

+1.55

Washoe County

$85.299

-2.44

Reno

$62.208

+0.57

Sparks

$13.868

-5.95

North Lake Tahoe

$1.812

-5.77

Balance of County

$7.411

-16.82

South Lake Tahoe

$18.492

-15.02

Elko County

$33.631

+3.49

Wendover

$23.093

+7.12

Balance of County

$10.539

-3.67

Carson Valley Area

$11.849

+2.23

Other Areas

$18.730

-9.51

10

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM



ISSUES

FANTINI RESEARCH

STRIP COMPONENTS: The key to Las Vegas' effective month can be seen in the success of its major strip segments and table drop. The lowest percentage increase came from slots, which was still up over 19% this month.

MAJOR STRIP SEGMENTS APRIL REVENUE (M)

%CHANGE YEAR-ON-YEAR

WIN % 2022

WIN % 2021

Blackjack

$69.866

+48.99

12.03

10.77

Baccarat

$48.031

+69.50

8.90

7.79

Total Games

$232.671

+48.73

12.35

11.51

TABLE DROP APRIL 2022 (M)

APRIL 2021 (M)

%CHANGE YEAR-ON-YEAR

Blackjack

$580.765

$435.413

+33.38

Baccarat

$539.674

$363.761

+48.36

Total Games

$1.884 BN

$1.359 BN

+38.61

Slots

$4.579 BN

$3.847 BN

+19.03

RACEBOOK AND SPORTS POOL: Despite Nevada's April revenue for sportsbooks slumping slightly, its healthy handle increase of over 27% will help to offset any sore purses.

RACEBOOK AND SPORTS POOL APRIL REVENUE (M)

%CHANGE YEAR-ON-YEAR

WIN % 2022

WIN % 2021

Racebook

$2.623

-2.67

16.32

16.42

Total Sportsbook

$25.367

-6.87

4.35

5.95

APRIL HANDLE

%CHANGE YEAR-ON-YEAR

$583.150m

+27.38

Sportsbook Handle

fantiniresearch.com

12

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM



FEATURES

GBGC DATA

GLOBAL OUTLOOK: LAND-BASED FOCUS Global Betting & Gaming Consultants (GBGC), the global gaming data expert, provides exclusive statistical data to Gambling Insider on markets from around the world; visit www.gbgc.com for more GLOBAL CASINO GGY (IN US$BN) 180

165

The graph shows global casino gross gambling yield (GGY) in $bn for the period 2015-2022. GGY is defined as gross turnover minus the amount paid out to players as winnings. GBGC predicts global casino GGY will surpass pre-pandemic levels only in 2024.

160

155

145

142

168 150 127

140

111

120 100 80 60 40 20 0 2015

2016

2017

2018

e = Estimate

2019

2020

2021e

2022f

f = Forecast

key markets sports betting handle vs horseracing handle (us$bn) 350

OCEANIA - 4.9%

300

231

250

US$ billion

AFRICA - 1.8%

298

200

177

161 150

114 114

125 120

132 128

134

175 137

134

150

159

100

The graph shows key market sports betting and horseracing handle in $bn for the period 2015-2022. Horseracing handle is hovering around $134bn (average for the period), while sports betting keeps increasing in popularity. In other words, the number and volume of stakes is increasing by almostNORTH double AMERICA - 31.8% that of horseracing by 2022.

ASIA/Middl East - 28.3%

50

EUROPE - 28% 0

2015

2016

2017

2018

Sports betting handle (US$bn)

14

2019

2020

2021e

2022f

Horseracing handle (US$bn)

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

40

50.0

10

45.0


0

2015

2016

2017

2019

2018

2020

2021e

2022f

FEATURES

GBGC DATA

Macau Vs nevada 40

50.0

35

45.0 40.0

30

160

145

142

155

Gross gaming yield (US$ billion)

180

30.0

20

25.0 20.0

15

15.0

168

165 10

150 5

140 120

Visitors (millions)

al/South AMERICA Bbean - 5%

35.0 25

10.0

127

0

111

2015

2016

5.0

2017

2019

2018

2020

0.0

2021

Macau casino GGY (US$bn)

Macau visitor arrivals (millions)

Nevada casino GGY (US$bn)

US$ billion

100

Las Vegas visitor arrivals (millions)

80

As the graph shows, Macau's revenue was far superior to that of Nevada's c. 2015-19. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, completely turned that on its head.

60 40

Global GGY (gross gaming yield) split by gambling verticals (%) 2019 vs 2020

20

400

Betting

Casinos

340

0

2019% 2016 Split 2017

2015

2020% Split

2018

300

15.3

2019

2020

18.7

29.0 2021e 22.7

2022f

600

US Indian Gaming

Gaming Machines

Lotteries

Other (Bingo etc.)

7.5

16.7

28.8

2.6

7.6

15.2

33.5

400

2.5

227 The table shows the percentage of each gambling vertical's GGY. Casinos were the crown jewel of the gambling industry for many years, contributing 200 170 the most to global GGY. However, the pandemic changed the picture and now the lottery sector has the highest contribution to global GGY. 227.5 This is not a surprise, considering lotteries were137the 121 only available gambling product in many jurisdictions during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

87 74

100

95.1

hina

32.20

Global GGY (gross gaming yield) split by region (%) in 2020 0

The Venetian 2020% Split Macao

Management & other operations Africa

The Londoner Macao

1.8

Asia/Middle East

28.3

Central/South American & Caribbean

5.0

Europe

28.2

North America

31.8

Oceania

4.9

35 20 The Parisian Macao

The Plaza Macao and Four Seasons Macao

200

AFRICA - 1.8%

Sands Macao

8

182.4

7

Ferry Operations and other

21.4 0 Las Vegas Locals

Downtown Las Vegas

ASIA/Middle East - 28.3% NORTH AMERICA - 31.8%

EUROPE - 28%

49.5

Gross gaming yield (US$ billion)

268.30

102

OCEANIA - 4.9%

Central/South AMERICA & CARIBbean - 5%

The graph shows global GGY (gross gaming yield) split by regions (%) for 2020. Asia is no longer the region with the highest contribution to the global GGY (gross gaming yield), which was previously the case for years. The main reason for this is a fall in Asia's casino GGY of 70% YoY. GGY fell the most in Macau (-79% year on year), South Korea (-61 YoY), The Philippines and Singapore (both -58% YoY).

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

15

10

8.02 8

7.31

7.75

8.3

40 2000

1,662.90


ISSUES

TAKING STOCK

TAKING STOCK Gambling Insider tracks operator and supplier stock prices across a six-month period (January to June 2022). The stock price is taken from the first day of each month TABCORP

THE STAR ENTERTAINMENT

800 400

3

3 1

600 200

600 200

2

2 0

400 0

400 0

200

200

ar

ne

Six-month high - 64.35 (Jun) Six-month low - 51.60 (Feb) Market capital – SEK 17.76bn ($1.82bn) GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

25 75

25 75

20

0 50

0 50

0

ry

b Fe

y

ua

ar

br

Ja nu

nu a Fe ry br ua ry Fe b

ua r Fe y br ua ry Fe b

0

ua ry

e Ju n

M a Ju y ne

Six-month high - 108.75 (Jan) Six-month low - 94.00 (May) Market capital – SEK 21.267bn ($2.18bn)

Ja

10

Ja

10

ar y

ne Ju

M Juay ne

Ap Mril ay Ap r M il ay

M ar c Ap h ril

ar y br ua ry Fe br ua r M y ar ch

Ja nu

20

0

0

Fe

0

y

0

30

10

10

ar

ne Ju

M a Ju y ne

Ap r M il ay

c Ap h ril

ar M

Fe

Ja n

nu Ja

ua ry br ua ry Fe br ua r M y ar ch

0

Fe

y ar Ja nu

50 100

25

Ja

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nu

Ju

50 100

30

nu

M

e

M a Ju y ne

Ap r M il ay

ar c Ap h ril

ua ry ar ch M

ry ua

br

Fe

y

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ar

br Fe

Ju n

20

20

SEK

75 125

25

0

Ja n

Ja

nu Ja

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KINDRED GROUP

75 125

Ju

M Juay ne

Ap Mril ay

100

20

ar y

0

Ja

nu Ja 20

M a Ap rch ril

nu a Fe ry br ua ry Fe br ua M ry ar ch

40 0

ar y

40 0

100

30

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M a Ap rch ril

60 20

0

ua

60 20

125

0

Ja n

80 40

Six-month high - 3.79 (Jan) Six-month low - 2.99 (Jun) Market capital - AU$2.78bn (US$2.01bn)

1

e Ju n

M

M

br

SEK 80 40

ar

ne Ju

M Juay ne

125

M a Ju y ne

Ap r M il ay

ar c Ap h ril

ry ar ch

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Six-month high - 29.02 (Jan) Six-month low - 21.40 (Jun) Market capital – US$4.31bn

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Six-month high - 731.50 (Jan) Six-month low - 521.50 (May) Market capital - £1.65bn ($2.07bn)

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Six-month high - 45.39 (Jan) Six-month low - 24.72 (Jun) Market capital - AU$16.55bn (US$11.95bn)

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FEATURES

THE HUDDLE

THE FULL STACK Campeón Gaming Co-Founder & CEO Marinos Shiapanis speaks to the GI Huddle about the value of proprietary platforms, and adjusting for different markets If you could sum up the brand in three words, and you can explain why, what would the three words be? People, culture and innovation. These words sum up the company in terms of what we have achieved today. We’re an inclusive, fair company, and these values are the driving force behind all our partnerships. From day one we’ve always said the priority is for our own people, regardless of how much we grow. We’ve now gone from one to 15 brands, and there’s still more room for growth. What are Campeón’s main focuses now? Our main focus over the last year was the development of our own technology; this includes a new product which is our own proprietary iGaming platform. As operators primarily, we found it difficult to find the perfect platform to work with sometimes. Throughout the process of having a lot of partnerships, a lot of turnkey solutions etc., we decided the best way forward was to develop our own platform and an improved operation for our potential partners. We started this process over a year ago, and now we have the majority of our brands working on our own technology. We’re also providing white label and doing B2B, and now we’re focusing on the next steps in terms of white labelling. We’re focusing on the Far East a lot now, and have our presence in Latin America; we’re always busy! What are the advantages and disadvantages of using proprietary platforms, as you are, compared to third-party software? The main advantage of using your own technology is that you have control. You’re the owner of yourself, so everything you do wrong or right is on you. You cannot blame anyone. This is why we created our own platform. Of course, we made mistakes and learned from these. The other positive is speed – we can implement things far more quickly and also rectify things much faster ourselves. Technology is important now, so we wanted everyone to see that we’re not only operating a successful gaming business, but we have the capacity to enter into the technological sphere.

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You have a brand in the Far East, SupaCasi. Can you tell us about it? We undertook a lot of research on the Far East; the people, the gaming culture, etc. We researched a lot of branding; names, logos, what the Asian market would like, etc. I think the result is a good brand in SupaCasi – we have a range of top-notch gaming providers on it, and we facilitate a range of the biggest payment options in the Far East using SupaCasi too. All of the SupaCasi offers are based on local people and what they would expect from online casino, and sports betting. We’re offering a holistic experience in the Far East in the way we market ourselves. And now we’re looking at launching two more brands in the same market. How different are player preferences in the Far East compared to other regions, i.e., Europe? I wouldn’t say players are looking for totally different things in these markets. Online sports betting and casino are universal hobbies. At the end of the day, no matter what the brand is, you need to have a big variety in your offering.

You should offer everything you can. If you try to localise the tone of voice, the language, to local markets, this is how you can best appeal to different markets. Of course, payments too must also be localised for ease of access for the player. Game wise, I think operators everywhere have all they need to be a success, and there are many aggregators out there – so having your games up to scratch is standard for the competition. Finally, what does Campeón look for in a good affiliate to partner with? I’d go back to the beginning here and say trust. I think it needs to be a mutually trustworthy relationship with an affiliate. Not only in terms of volume, how many players they bring in or the money they get, because it’s not a sprint but a marathon. You need to run alongside your competition over a long distance. Building trust is the key to achieving this. And having a mutual understanding is equally as important, so the operator and the affiliate need to be on the same page in terms of strategy; the partnership should be moving in the same direction.



FEATURES

THE HUDDLE

UNREGULATED? UNRELIABLE California State Lottery’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs & Communications, Carolyn Becker, speaks to the GI Huddle about the dangers of buying lottery products from unregulated sources Can you talk us through the history of the California State Lottery? Well, we’re approaching 40 years of being in operation. We started out back in the 1980s, when California voters passed Proposition 37 (Prop. 37) in 1984. The passing of Prop. 37 legalised the lottery, allowing us to begin creating and responsibly selling lottery games. The sole mission of the California State Lottery is to raise additional money for California’s public schools, so that’s what we’ve been doing for the better part of 35+ years. I mentioned that the passing of Prop. 37 allowed us to sell tickets responsibly and responsible gaming is something that we take a lot of pride in. We were actually the first lottery in the US to receive the highest level of certification for responsible gaming back in 2015. That means we help educate our players, we address issues like problem gambling and we’ve been recertified by the World Lottery Association (WLA) twice since our first certification, most recently just last year.

"The passing of Prop. 37 legalised the lottery, allowing us to begin creating and responsibly selling lottery games" How is the lottery performing now? What products do you have on offer and how did the Covid-19 pandemic affect operations at the California State Lottery? We’re performing quite well, let me just start with that. Even though we all faced difficulties during the pandemic and had to go over some hurdles with stay at home etc., we did see lottery sales ultimately go up. We think that mostly, particularly last year, these higher numbers were due to

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Is this a grey area? I.e. third-party sales not being illegal while concurrently being unregulated? That’s a good way of describing it. As far as we’re concerned, the tickets somebody buys from somewhere other than our retailers are not from our retail partners. If you buy from third parties they’re not vetted, they’re not approved or regulated. We have no oversight, authority or contractual relationships with these companies, which means we can’t ensure the safety, securing or integrity of these platforms or tickets.

Watch the full vido online at gamblinginsider.com/gi-huddle

people having fewer options to have a little fun; things were still closed and risk was at the forefront of people’s minds. We sell most of our tickets in convenience and grocery stores, which were able to remain open during the pandemic as they were essential businesses. We expect a record year of more than $8.4bn in sales, so that means $1.8bn will go to public schools. What’s the regulatory situation in California at the moment? You’ve previously sent out warnings regarding third-party sales; can you expand on this? We are actively warning, and have been for some time, both our players and retail partners about the status of third-party private companies that are selling our tickets either online or through an app. The reality is these third-party companies are not authorised in California; they’re not regulated. So, our message to players is that if you’re going to engage with these third parties, do so at your own risk. The California State Lottery is not affiliated in any way with those unregulated platforms.

What’s the biggest risk for players; is it that tickets may be forged? I don’t even want to speculate on what could happen. The bottom line is that nobody is overlooking the safety and security of the process at third-party retailers. If someone buys a ticket at a lottery retailer, we have complete control over what happens when you scratch and win – if winning tickets are scratched through third parties that would’ve created a whole new layer of challenges. This is why we ask players to buy tickets at our retailers, so we can ensure the ticket is safe and the company selling the ticket is compliant. What is the ongoing conversation with retailers about this? Is there much dialogue or does this need improving upon? I would say both of these points apply. There are 23,000+ retailers and I believe we sent a written letter to all of our authorised bodies. We also have a dedicated sales team which is constantly in the field speaking to our retailers and having those conversations. We post messages on our social media platforms, conduct interviews, so retail is very much a part of the audience that we’re trying to educate. In some cases, retailers have been really thankful as they didn’t know about this being an unregulated offering in California, and so they’ve been very cooperative and expressed gratitude for the dialogue that’s been had. We’ll continue to engage in that conversation both with our retail partners and our players.



FEATURES

GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS ASIA

THE GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS HEAD TO ASIA ON 22 AUGUST Asia's inaugural Global Gaming Awards will be held virtually, recognising the most successful companies and individuals in the Asian gaming market The most prestigious Awards ceremony in the gaming industry, the Global Gaming Awards, will launch in Asia for the very first time this August. On 22 August 2022, The Global Gaming Awards will launch in their third continental region, following North America and Europe. However, owing to persistent Covid-19 restrictions that continue to plague various regions in Asia, the Awards will be held virtually this year. Gambling Insider sincerely hopes to stage Asia’s second Global Gaming Awards in person in 2023. First launched in Las Vegas in 2014 – before expanding to London in 2018 – The Global Gaming Awards have fast become the benchmark for recognising efforts made by companies and executives throughout the year. Nominees are always Shortlisted on merit, with the winners chosen by our C-level Judging Panel. What’s more, KPMG in the Crown Dependencies independently adjudicates the voting process to ensure full transparency and fairness. The case will be the same for the inaugural Asia Awards, which will celebrate a plethora of newly developed integrated resorts and the launch of several products in Asia over the past year. Gambling Insider Editor-in-Chief Julian Perry said: “Asia is already one of the largest gambling markets in the world and we expect this expansion to continue. “The Global Gaming Awards Asia have been in the works for a while now and we are certainly excited to officially announce this event taking place later in 2022.” There are nine categories available at Asia’s first Global Gaming Awards: Casino Operator of the Year: Rewarding the operator of casinos that has gone above and beyond to create the best possible customer

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experience across all its properties. Casino Supplier of the Year: Recognising the efforts of the supplier who drives the development of casino properties. Integrated Resort of the Year: Acknowledging the Integrated Resort (new or old) that pushes the boundaries of customer experience. Casino Product of the Year: Recognising the product that improves players’ experience, or operators’ ability to run their casino. Table Game of the Year: Rewarding the table game or ETG that stood out from the rest on the casino floor.

"Nominees are always Shortlisted on merit, with the winners chosen by our C-level Judging Panel"

Corporate Social Responsibility of the Year: Recognising the company that goes to great lengths in its commitment to CSR. Digital Supplier of the Year: Rewarding the best software or online games supplier. Digital Operator of the Year: Acknowledging the operator who drives forward the digital gaming vertical. Executive of the Year: Recognising the executive whose efforts drive the industry forward. The window for self-nomination ran from April to June this year, with a host of Asia-facing companies submitting bids for consideration. You can stay tuned for all the latest updates from The Global Gaming Awards Asia at www.gamblinginsider.com this August.



FEATURES

THE HIPPODROME CASINO

IMMOVABLE Gambling Insider Editor Tim Poole visits the Hippodrome Casino, ahead of its 10th anniversary, to discuss the longevity and history of land-based casinos with Executive Chairman Simon Thomas Picture the scene: it’s the early 20th century and you’ve just walked through the entrance to the Hippodrome. To your left, you see people, walls, tables – nothing new there. Up ahead, though, a group of seals catches your eye and, as you look back, the unmistakable noise of an elephant herd is supported by visual proof that your ears are not deceiving you. For that is the varied history of the Hippodrome, for 10 years now London’s premier casino – but many moons ago one of London’s premier circuses. Opened in 1900 by Frank Matcham, the property was consciously named Hippodrome (which means horse track in Greek) by the celebrated theatre architect. Matcham designed 160 theatres between 1880 and 1920 – including the London Palladium and the London Coliseum to continue the Ancient Greek theme. In the Hippodrome, he had designed an all-purpose building that, over the next century, was to welcome circus acts, comedy acts, musical acts, ballerinas, theatre performances and, as of the last decade, a Global Gaming Award-winning casino.

"We’ve had famous people visit since 1900, Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini would be two of the early ones" Given the many different uses of this landmark building over the years, the fact it eventually became a casino could easily be interpreted as proof of land-based gambling’s longevity. And does that, in turn, mean land-based casinos will always be here to stay – as an integral part of culture and society?

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“Without question,” Simon Thomas, Executive Chairman of the Hippodrome Casino, tells Gambling Insider at the property’s rooftop terrace bar. “There’s a natural human desire to gamble. When you think that gambling has been found in every culture, in every part of the world, in every part of history – cavemen had rudimentary dice – you realise how much a part of our culture it is. Casinos are, if they are allowed to operate properly with good regulation, a fantastic environment where you can gamble – and not just gamble but have a great night out. The best casinos are the ones that offer live entertainment, bars, restaurants, different forms of entertainment,

poker, as well as gambling.” Admittedly, the Hippodrome – and high-end casinos like it – is not always for the faint-hearted. Its steakhouse, the only restaurant in the UK to offer Spanish fillet steak on the bone, doesn’t exactly have a saver menu, while the Covid-19 pandemic has led to many casinos raising the minimum bet size at roulette


THE HIPPODROME CASINO

and blackjack tables. As Interblock CEO John Connelly said at the Indian Gaming Association tradeshow in California earlier this year, table games worth less than $25 may become phased out as they simply don’t make casinos any money. NOTORIOUS As Thomas points out, however, properties like the Hippodrome can offer you a genuine “money-can’t-buy” experience. The nights out; the glamour; the people. What anti-gambling campaigners quickly forget is that it’s not just the winners who celebrate. If a player visits the Hippodrome for an evening, it’s unlikely a losing player will leave the building complaining about the quality of staff,

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facilities or overall experience. They might even meet the odd celebrity, too... “We’ve had famous people visit since 1900, Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini would be two of the early ones,” Thomas says. “The Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who was infamous in her day, and who danced the English premiere of Swan Lake here. All the musical stars of the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s. When we had the Talk Of The Town, every notable act in the world came here. Ella Fitzgerald, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Judy Garland. “Very topically, in 1976, the Queen visited; we’re obviously hoping she pops back (this year, the UK is celebrating her Platinum Jubilee – 70 years as Queen)! In my day, Prince has got to be up there, staying on the theme of royalty. Dire Straits performed here and we have our very own Channing Tatum popping in regularly. Malala was having a drink with Tom Holland on this terrace a

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THE HIPPODROME CASINO

short while ago. So we’ve had Hollywood superstars, royalty – but we welcome everybody.” Famous or not, people form a complex part of any land-based casino. You have the players – 30,000 of them a week at the Hippodrome – the staff – 650 of them at the property – the performers, Thomas himself and his team of executives. When we ask what the toughest part of running the Hippodrome day to day is – bearing in mind its many redevelopments and well-documented closures during the Covid-19 pandemic – the Executive Chairman’s answer is simple. “People,” he laughs. “People, people, people! We have an enormous range of disciplines within the building. But we have an incredible amount of people who have learnt to work, develop and make this place hum. So people are the most challenging thing but they’re also the most rewarding thing. Because when we get a really nice group of customers in here served by a load of very enthusiastic, happy staff, the experience is unparalleled.”

Thomas is hoping that number rises to 80. As for the rest of the floor, there are several factors involved. “It’s part science, part experience, part gut feel and we make all of our departments compete for space,” Thomas observes. “Our poker room refurbishment actually came because our Poker Manager said: ‘I think this area would work better for poker than

THE LAY OF THE LAND Part of striving for that unparalleled experience, of course, is the arrangement of the casino floor. How does the Hippodrome design its floor, in terms of getting the most out of every vertical and appealing to every segment of its audience? A point Thomas is keen to emphasise is the importance of slot machines. Current regulations in the UK cap the number a casino can offer to 20. Following the upcoming UK Gambling Act Review,

gaming.’ We’re not shy of trying new things. We’re pretty good – we don’t always get it right but we will keep refining and moving around. When you’ve actually made the change – if you are constantly reviewing it – it’s amazing how if you’ve got a corridor that’s two feet wide and you move a table six inches, you’ve increased the corridor width by 25%. It’s that attention to detail that really makes places feel good.” Another consideration, Thomas cannot deny, is player profile. Different bettors want different things. British players traditionally love roulette, while Asian bettors traditionally love baccarat, with US players usually

Tim Poole

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frequenting the slot machine areas and blackjack tables. Yet Thomas is careful not to restrict anyone. His aim is to create different environments that are attractive to different sets of players – and at different times. “The strange thing is you’d think tables in some secluded areas are more attractive to the high-end player,” he muses. “But actually the high-end player may want to play there

"Our history is phenomenal and it gives us a great platform to build from. But it would be a mistake to just rely on it” – Simon Thomas sometimes – and then the next day play right in the middle of the main floor: with a big pile of chips, bluntly showing off.” He continues: “While we have a baccarat lounge, which is aimed more towards the Asian market, there are a lot of British players that like playing baccarat and a lot of Asian players that like playing roulette. So it’s wrong of us to try to impose our thoughts on the areas; it’s for us to create great areas that are all slightly different, and let people pick whatever area they want at that particular moment.”

Simon Thomas



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THE HIPPODROME CASINO

"Dinner parties at the Hippodrome’s cupola, which would offer an unparalleled view of the area"

RENOVATION, RENOVATION, INNOVATION Naturally, at the Hippodrome it’s far from just gaming on offer. In comparison to Holland Casino (see page 32), where the majority of revenue comes from gaming itself, visitors in the West End of London are after the all-round experience. Hence the Heliot Steak House, Lola’s Conference & Event Space, the ever-popular Magic Mike show and more. Thomas is “constantly striving to change and innovate.” This includes taking over two parts of the building during the pandemic that the Hippodrome did not previously control. There are renovations to come, such as the new Cafe Crépe, the new cocktail champagne bar, a ‘secret’ bar plus a new

The only full-sized craps table in the UK, at the Hippodrome

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Chinese restaurant. The latter is a logical addition given the Hippodrome’s close proximity to Chinatown – but one that admittedly faces heavy local competition. “Our history is phenomenal and it gives us a great platform to build from. But it would be a mistake to just rely on it,” Thomas tells us. “This place has been innovative and has always broken the boundaries for entertainment in the West End. And we do push the boundaries – there are no other casinos like it in the UK and I daresay around the world. It’s flattering when people visit from Las Vegas, for example, to see what we’re doing. We’re always looking for more; right now the space is working well – but if we think it can be better, we’ll change it. The space we’re in now (the terrace) didn’t exist two years ago and it’s already one of London’s best rooftop bars. Indeed, we are looking at ways of expanding it.”

LONDON: A DISTRIBUTED RESORT Given the array of existing offerings at the Hippodrome, Gambling Insider can’t resist asking if there is anything Thomas wishes he could offer – in his wildest dreams – that isn’t yet on the menu at the Leicester Square-based property. Hotel rooms are something he’d consider, although he acknowledges there are already hotel rooms all around London. Whereas Las Vegas is all about destination resorts, Thomas describes London as “almost a distributed resort” – with hotels and restaurants all very close by. There is something very specific on his list, however: dinner parties at the Hippodrome’s cupola, which would offer an “unparalleled view of the area.” The Executive Chairman is adamant he will find a way. Of the Hippodrome’s current products, the aforementioned Magic Mike is very much its ace in the pack. The relationship with the



FEATURES

THE HIPPODROME CASINO

show is “fantastic,” according to Thomas, and it’s a performance he assures us is enjoyed by all. (It isn’t just a Full Monty-type show for a female-only audience). It also creates an “amazing PR tool.” Thomas beams: “It’s a phenomenal show, the sort of show people will come back to time and time again, because it’s a beautiful dance show. If anything, it seems to be getting busier. With the Magic Mike 3 movie just having been shot in London, largely based around the putting on of the stage show, we know that’s going to give it another impetus.” The Hippodrome chief asserts that Magic Mike won’t finish for a long time, with any extra demand for it even creating a (good) problem – á la the Hamilton demand of recent years in the US – given it is running at 90% capacity already. There is a second entertainment space in the building, while there have been some “interesting new acts” and live podcasts in the theatre, and Lola’s. If Magic Mike were to ever end, its replacement would have to be something “slightly alternative, slightly different and fitting in with the ethos of delivering entertainment with a smile.” In fact, Thomas does not rule out the possibility of the Hippodrome ever expanding to a second property; he has full faith that his team would be able to manage it. The property would not be called the Hippodrome but would be “something that had a similar style of operation and ethos.” But Thomas concludes: “The Hippodrome is the Hippodrome. It is rather unique.” Indeed, the property itself is central to the history of the West End and, as it celebrates its 10th year as a casino, will become ingrained within gambling history. Land-based casinos, as ever, remain immovable.

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THE HIPPODROME CASINO

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HOLLAND CASINO

MORE THAN GAMBLING Gambling Insider Editor Tim Poole speaks to Holland Casino Director of Operations Noël Leise, about sustaining the appeal of casinos and how land-based operators can compete with a growing online market Can you tell us a bit about your background and current role? I’ve been in the casino business since 1985, so that’s quite a while. I started working for Holland Casino in those days. I came from journalism, then I made a switch and I got into this business – and I’m still in it. I’ve done a lot of different things. I worked in Montreal, in Canada; we opened the big casino over there in 1993. So I really started on the casino floor. I did all kinds of different jobs, but later on made it to Casino Director. Now, I’m responsible for the operational part of the company – the 14 venues we have. For now, I also take some responsibilities of our CEO, after Erwin van Lambaart left, with Petra de Ruiter due to start in September. So it’s quite a mixed job at the moment. How difficult was the pandemic for Holland Casino? We had a couple of tough years. It surprised us; it surprised the world because when it started

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you didn’t know how long it was going to last. In the beginning, it was more like make sure that your cash and liquidity are okay. We were closed for three, four months and then we could open again with limitations. So we went from one scenario to another and sometimes the scenario was closing down. Sometimes we could operate but with severe limitations in volume, all kinds of measures and things like that. I think it was the summer of 2020 when we realised it was going to last longer than we’d hoped. Then we started the restructuring, which was a cost-saving programme, mainly in management and overhead. At the same time, we took the opportunity to make some improvements in the way we organise and made it more efficient, more effective. So it was a combination of those two things that we did. But it was all in a pressure cooker because we didn’t have a lot of time. We did this in about four or five months, which is not very long for a restructuring. So we did that by the end of 2020 and then,

in 2021, we were partly open, partly closed. We didn’t have the opportunity to make it work yet, because we were just not up and running. We tried to take the opportunities we got, which meant thatwhen we could open, albeit with limitations, we still tried to make some money and keep our head above the water. That’s mainly what we did in 2021. By the end of the year, we were closed again. The second time was over Christmas, which is the most beautiful period for a casino. But we were prepared for the future. We made serious cost savings and quality improvements. The only thing left was to open our doors. We got the opportunity in January to open up again and, by March, we were open without any limitations. No more restrictions. But then we had another problem: tight labour markets. We had to hire many people and we couldn’t find them. It’s not just our problem, it’s a problem all over the industry. We are still working on that, but if you look at where we are now, we are very pleased with the volume of customers we have.


HOLLAND CASINO

We can’t handle everything, sure, but we are trying to take things one step at a time. For now, we expect to be back on track by September. You mentioned your 14 properties. Is there a hierarchy in terms of importance? Of course, we have large properties that bring in more money than the others. On the other hand, we also have a brand and we want to be Holland Casino in all of the properties. They are all precious to us. But if you have to make a decision about let’s say, staffing, you look where it’s the most effective to do so. In general, we try to serve all the properties more or less equally, but we have different properties. Hospitality at a high level, that’s really what you will find in every casino property. We have the large casinos that also have entertainment, more food and beverage concepts, more fancy restaurants, so there is a difference between the properties. It also depends on the region. If you are in Amsterdam, or Rotterdam, there’s a lot more potential than in, for example, the northern part of the country. But they’re all important to us. There are a couple of areas where we don’t compromise: hospitality and responsible gaming. If you’re looking at gaming versus non-gaming revenue, what’s the balance at the moment? I think it’s still 85% to 90% gaming. We don’t have hotels and things like that; the only other things we have are food and beverage – and the entertainment is free. We offer it to make us attractive, but we don’t charge money for that. Entertainment is a very important thing for us because we really want to have a diverse offering. You have to be attractive, which is more than gambling, especially for younger target groups. It’s important to have a social environment. Twenty years ago, we thought new generations would come for slot machines, for technology. What we see now is that they come for table games; they come for social interaction. They come with friends and they want to have fun. That demands more than just gaming, it demands fancy bars, it demands good restaurants. So that’s what we’re trying to build. What’s the breakdown in terms of slots versus table games? Right now, slots versus table games break down as follows: for the year 2019 (which was before the pandemic), gross revenue was €728m ($780.9m). Slots provided 52% of that, table games 42% and other sources of revenue 5%. Within table games, because that’s where it’s positioned, poker is

really important to us. As far as revenue is concerned, it’s not very big, but it brings traffic. We are the only legal operator of poker in the Netherlands, so we want to offer it; and we have the big tournaments. We had the World Series in Venlo and it was a huge event. We broke all the records there. So for customers, that’s a really great experience. Poker is very important, but maybe not so much financially. How has Holland Casino adapted and kept the land-based offering relevant, especially with the growth of online gaming? We have to really develop the land-based offering to be sustainable, to be future proof. Casinos are a traditional business. Las Vegas may be different because they have the large properties, the big shows and everything. But that also asks for some volume, for a scale we don’t have in Europe. So I think we have been trying to be more interesting for other target groups. We developed the low-limit areas with the Pulse Arenas, and the NXT, which is a combination of terminals. In front of those terminals, you have entertainers, so it’s more than gambling, it’s more like a social experience. I would say it’s pretty successful. It’s low-limit, so it’s not really the money maker, but it makes us complete – it makes us interesting. Now, we also create partnerships with artists and with music halls or with, for example, Formula One. With Max Verstappen, of course, we have tried to build up a partnership that makes our brand more interesting. Those are the things we have been doing over the last

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couple of years. We have to develop it, we have to keep developing it, but that’s never going to end. I think physical casinos, the land-based casinos, they will always be there. We have things in land-based that online will never match and that’s the social aspects. Being together with people, having fun gambling, that’s what you find in physical casinos. In the future, 50 to 100 years from now, do you see casinos as always being a central part of city culture? We are actually moving out of the cities a little bit because of accessibility. Accessibility is really an issue. People come not by bus or train, they come by car. Parking accessibility is a really big topic. The last new venues we opened in Utrecht and in Venlo, they’re both near the highway. We are very accessible there and so are moving out of the city a little bit. On the other hand, if you have the possibility to find a place in a larger leisure centre or complex, that would be nice as well; but we are generally moving out of the city centres. Are there any new areas or properties you’re looking at? Or, as you mentioned, is the focus more on staffing and returning to peak performance? Yes, that is the focus but we also try to create a long-term vision of what we want to do with our properties. We have properties that we just built, and they’re obviously in a perfect location. But we also have properties that have existed for 30-40 years, and they’re not always in the best location. So we try to have a philosophy on where we would like to end up in 10-20 years from now.

Noël Leise

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TODD SIMS

SHIFTING BUYING PATTERNS Todd Sims, SuzoHapp Vice President of Sales, Americas, explains how the gaming industry has changed over the years, picking out the latest trends and also highlighting the importance of in-person events Can you tell us what SuzoHapp specialises in within gaming? For over 60 years, SuzoHapp has served the gaming, amusement, and sports betting industries as a global manufacturer and distributor of components. However, we are more than just a ready supply of aftermarket parts and quick customisation capabilities. We are a trusted hardware partner with relevant expertise and a global network of partnerships eager to help businesses succeed. How has operator demand changed over the years? The industry was hit pretty hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and we have seen customer buying patterns shift fairly significantly since then. There’s been a definite shift towards cashless payments, we’ve seen a lot more requests for anything that is self-service or automated, and operators are looking at how they can bring the home experience that customers got accustomed to during the pandemic into an in-person, retail space. SuzoHapp has been exhibiting at several recent in-person events lately. How exciting is it to have these events back? We have seen a lot of positive reception at the recent tradeshows we have participated in. It has been great to see our colleagues and customers in person again and to start rebuilding that rapport, and those relationships. It has also been a great way to see what is new and upcoming in the industry, and see all the innovation that has taken place recently. How important are these events for the industry? Our sector requires a lot of trust to successfully navigate. We pride ourselves on being the industry’s trusted hardware

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Todd Sims

“While video calls held us over during the height of the pandemic, it has really made us realise that true face time is necessary to build relationships and lay the foundation of trust, especially with new customers and partnerships”



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TODD SIMS

“We are very excited to see Ontario open up for sports betting. Really any new market for sports betting has so much potential, especially from a retail standpoint”

partner, but we wouldn’t be able to do that without the face-to-face interactions. While video calls held us over during the height of the pandemic, it has really made us realise that true face time is necessary to build relationships and lay the foundation of trust, especially with new customers and partnerships. Going forward, we think we will continue to see attendance only get better at shows with more strategic key players. What are the latest trends you can identify for the gaming industry? With the rise of self-service kiosks and minimising touchpoints during the pandemic, cashless payment systems have really taken off. SuzoHapp also just premiered its new Dual Change Cashless to serve the industry better and support this growing need. Additionally, we have seen a lot of activity in the rise of sports betting. Over the past year, SuzoHapp has worked to develop a sports betting ecosystem to help support platform providers and operators with a beginning-to-end system, with a solution for every instance of a bet. The ecosystem begins with an over-the-counter unit for a cashier to provide a betting voucher to a customer,

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then providing both kiosk-style terminals for traditional betting, as well as a tabletop terminal for in-game bets. Lastly, the betting cycle is completed with a cash redemption terminal, with a small footprint to allow for self-service payout of winnings or voucher balances. SuzoHapp was recently granted a licence for the Ontario sports betting market. How much potential is there in Ontario? We are very excited to see Ontario open up for sports betting. Really any new market for sports betting has so much potential, especially from a retail standpoint. We’re seeing new venues that didn’t even exist a few years ago develop, to look at new ways to let customers place their bets in a fun, inviting atmosphere. For Ontario specifically, it’s a large market with huge potential and we’re excited to get started in it. What would you say the major differences are between US and European sports betting? It is honestly not that different in the grand scheme. In the US, each state has different

regulatory requirements, which can be challenging to navigate, but the same is true of each country in Europe. Some countries are stricter; some have greater flexibility. The major difference we see is the maturity of the market. Europe has had sports betting for many years now and our customers know exactly what they want, because they have been in the business for a while. In the US, sports betting is relatively new, and many operators are still testing the waters of how to make it work within their existing offering, so need additional guidance to determine what solutions will likely work best. What does the rest of 2022 look like for SuzoHapp? We have a busy rest of 2022 ahead of us. We will be participating in quite a few tradeshows globally and are very much looking forward to seeing our customers there again. Additionally, we are hoping to launch a new product at G2E this year (can’t spill the beans about it yet!). We’re working hard to plan out as far as possible to navigate the supply chain issues that have been plaguing the world, so that’s also keeping our hands full.



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JURISDICTIONS

JURISDICTIONS: GIBRALTAR & ALDERNEY Gambling Insider talks to Alderney eGambling CEO, Susan O’Leary and Andrew Lyman, Executive Director and Gambling Commissioner of Gibraltar, who clear up the grey area of pre-regulated, offshore jurisdictions GIBRALTAR: DURABILITY AND ADAPTABILITY ARE THE KEY

Lyman: After nearly five years and hopefully for more time to come, Gibraltar is my adopted home. If I have learnt anything in that time, it is how durable and adaptable Gibraltar is in its approach to reinventing its economy and providing for the Gibraltarian people. There have been many occasions when the doomsayers have written off the jurisdiction. From the historic closure of the frontier, through the closure of the naval dockyard to the apparent “end of the gambling industry” in Gibraltar, when the UK imposed point of consumption tax (Gibraltar companies pay c£450m/$563.8m in UK gambling taxes) and most recently Brexit. It took vision to bring the online gambling sector to Gibraltar, but times change and with it the nature of the gambling industry. Brexit has seen a migration of EU business away from the jurisdiction and many operators are focused on North America, but Gibraltar sustains itself as a Tier 1 gambling hub for UK business and is building as a “rest-of-the-world” location of choice. There is continued interest in the jurisdiction, based on its reputation, from operators who are considering basing the hub of their multi-jurisdictional business in Gibraltar. There is appetite to licencs new and well-invested gambling businesses in Gibraltar that face into emerging and expanding markets. The detractors would characterise Gibraltar as a less regulated “offshore jurisdiction,” but for UK facing firms there is dual regulation by both the Gibraltar Gambling Division and the GB Gambling Commission. In respect of other jurisdictions, Gibraltar expects its operators to maintain high standards in areas of social responsibility and anti-money laundering. Furthermore, the jurisdiction is committed to tax transparency and information sharing. Transparency and inter-jurisdictional cooperation is essential for the standing of Gibraltar and its ability to attract inwards investment. Gibraltar has also evidenced its ability to properly regulate distributed ledger technology for those entering the crypto space wanting a credible jurisdiction from which

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proposes the licensing of third-party marketing and affiliate marketing, as well as other gambling services. This will not extend to intra group services, consultancy per se or the provision of regulatory technology (unless processing customer data and compliance process is outsourced).

"It took vision to bring the online gambling sector to Gibraltar" Andrew Lyman to conduct such business. There is strong cooperation between the Financial Services Commission and the gambling regulator, which delivers a solution-led approach to business propositions which crossover into both regulatory areas. At the time of writing, a new draft gambling bill in the form of a command paper has been released to stakeholders for consultation. It is an enabling and modernising Act which will both attract new business to Gibraltar while ensuring that the regulatory regime meets best practice standards in social responsibility and anti-money laundering. The key policy driver is to ensure that our multi-jurisdictional B2C operators want to remain here and others want to come here. Licensing will still hinge on having proportionate local substance but, while the Gibraltar proposition has always been framed around wider economic contribution, it also recognises the less centralised nature of the supply chain and the fact that some of that supply chain may have to be extra territorial. The Bill also recognises the presence of wider gambling services businesses in Gibraltar and

The new Bill also proposes a degree of greater Executive accountability through personal licensing and the licensing of Holding Companies that support gambling operations in other jurisdictions. Consultation will be taking place in the three months to the end of August 2022, with the Bill expected to become law later in the year, or very early in 2023. It is likely that as Gibraltar engages in the last two rounds of framework negotiations on a UK/ EU Treaty concerning free movement of people and goods across the border with Spain, that the outcome will be favourable for both Gibraltar and the surrounding Spanish hinterland. The economic arguments for this, on both sides, are very strong. Whatever the required solutions to dealing with Gibraltar leaving the EU, I have been here long enough to understand that even if there would be a no negotiated outcome, Gibraltar will still sustain as a gambling hub; and the industry will still make a valuable contribution to the economy. While “nothing is agreed until it is all agreed” there is cause for optimism. A negotiated outcome to the discussions would not only mean Gibraltar simply enduring, but it would herald an exciting new era of shared prosperity and opportunity for Gibraltar’s gambling industry in a wider economic context.


JURISDICTIONS

ALDERNEY: DIVERSIFYING OPERATIONS THE ONLINE SECTOR Regarding regulations in the online gaming sector, businesses are craving consistency, reliability and a safe pair of hands. They want to be in line with industry best practice and for regulators to provide a steady steer while they navigate through these turbulent times. There have been many regulatory disruptions to the sector in recent times. Global-facing businesses need solid regulation supporting them, not just as a nice-to-have, but for the knock-on-effect that poor regulatory frameworks can have on a businesses’ reputation, banking and payment processing services, and also for leverage and funding purposes. We are seeing the effects in real time on global businesses that are curtailed by a jurisdictions’ international reputation. As a result, we are seeing the trend of household-name global-facing listed entities bolstering their regulatory footprint by being licensed through us at Alderney. While M&A and increased consolidation is still highly relevant, and media and technology partnerships continue to fuel business expansion, it’s the logistical and operational effects of the pandemic and global political environment that are having an impact on regulatory decisions for industry. Assessing concentration risk, balancing global teams, regulatory issues in certain jurisdictions and responding to new market opportunities are all affecting the licensing requirements of the businesses we deal with. With the opening up of Ontario's market, we’ve seen fresh opportunities presented for Alderney licensees who can now apply for the Canadian licence through the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)-licensed entity. SAFETY IN A PRE-REGULATED MARKET For AGCC-licensed businesses entering the pre-regulated space, being regulated by a respected and first-tier regulator offers many advantages. For many, holding a licence is about ensuring that the business is demonstrating it is operating in line with global best practice, especially for global entities operating in multiple markets. Additionally, being licensed offers partnerships with other AGCC-licensed entities scope for M&A activity and access to payments and banking solutions, which simply aren’t available for unlicensed businesses or those licensed by problem-posing jurisdictions. Holding a consciously global-facing licence with the AGCC to enter the pre-regulated space provides an experienced hand to help navigate entry to these markets, under a trusted and well-respected regulatory framework.

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regarding international tax leveling the playing field, businesses are no longer limited in scope. With more people now choosing to work from home, there’s a real opportunity to take advantage of a truly global pool of talent, without requiring staff to relocate. The opportunity for remote teams enables businesses to spread the concentration risk and provides flexibility of location, opening new licensing opportunities that support and enable growth. Well-established, politically stable jurisdiction, where the iGaming regulatory regime is globally recognised, are the natural choice for such businesses.

Susan O'Leary

SPANNERS IN THE WORKS: BREXIT, COVID & POLITICS The industry has been experiencing exponential growth and, as a result, ongoing disruption and evolution for the past decade. Adding Covid, Brexit and numerous political and regulatory reforms to the mix has led to a fundamental transformation in the way business is done, not just for operators

"It’s less a case of finding the right amount of diversification, and more about maximising the opportunities to thrive in the new post-Covid world" - Susan O'Leary

CONCENTRATION RISK VS DIVERSIFICATION Pre-Covid-19, larger businesses followed the trend towards creating a ‘global home’ - basing the majority of their operations in one jurisdiction. This worked for a while, with some mainstream jurisdictions providing a home for large amounts of iGaming companies. However, as we have seen in recent years, putting all eggs in one basket has backfired for many.Political and regulatory instability within the home jurisdiction has made it harder for organisations to undertake the most essential business functions, such as obtaining banking solutions and raising finance. It’s less a case of finding the right amount of diversification, and more about maximising the opportunities to thrive in the new post-Covid world. The physical base for global iGaming firms used to be largely tax driven, but with changes to the approach of the OECD

and suppliers, but across the entire iGaming ecosystem, from banks and payment processors to advisors and conference organisers. Adapting brings a level of risk, of course, but it could also be argued that resisting change is equally risky. Embracing so much change, in both the internal and external business environment, also necessitates a certain requirement for stability and consistency in areas where it can be sought. It’s Alderney’s business-focused, advisor-led, professional approach to licensing which has attracted global PLCs to choose the jurisdiction in recent years. In addition to the expertise at the AGCC, Alderney’s sister island of Guernsey is a global leader in structuring listed entities, so we know our licensees are in safe hands. We’ve already seen so many businesses experience the positive knock-on effect from taking the opportunity to embrace change over recent times, and we’re looking forward to welcoming even more new global businesses in the months ahead.

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PAUL SCULPHER

SUSTAINABILITY IN THE US US sports betting keeps growing and growing... and growing. Regular Gambling Insider contributor Paul Sculpher speaks to industry experts about the dangers of unchecked expansion, and measures they might take to ensure it’s done responsibly Sports betting in the USA used to be something which publicly seemed to be considered somewhere between “a bit dodgy” and outright degenerate behaviour. It’s fair to say there was plenty of illegal bookmaking, and the availability of offshore bookies meant you’d probably have been able to get a bet on from most states; but betting has historically never been really considered fully legit. For decades a slew of betting-related scandals, from the 1919 World Series “Black Sox” through Pete Rose betting on baseball games he was managing and plenty of other points shaving / paid officials / high-profile addicts, meant it was held in low regard, legal in Nevada and treated with suspicion everywhere else. There was plenty of resistance, too, to a toplevel sports franchise in Las Vegas when the Golden Knights NHL expansion team was announced, with hand wringing over players being too close to temptation – conveniently ignoring that a) any top-level player (or

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anyone else) could have got a bet on any game illegally for decades and b) the temptations on offer in Las Vegas for young people with high incomes aren’t limited to gambling. In any case, fast forward to right now and the explosion in sports betting is truly staggering. If you’ve been to the US recently and tried to watch a sporting event on TV, the avalanche of betting ads is, frankly, relentless. The speed and totality with which the major sports have suddenly embraced sports betting is equally staggering – I determined to write this article when, while I was watching a baseball show on a national network, the hosts highlighted a tweet which began “Betting is awesome.” It went on to detail how the tweeter and their father love a bet on a game while they’re watching live. I enjoy a bet and completely get the concept of having a bet to make the game more fun; but in most developed countries you don’t

see that type of cheerleading for what is effectively a controlled substance. Not too many beer ads have the headline “boozing is awesome,” and there’s a reason for that. A cynical person might conclude that the reason for this Damascene conversion on behalf of the major sports has more to do with mountains of potential income from data rights and advertising revenue than a change in ethical considerations. Predictably, there’s a massive state-by-state land grab for betting players right now – as each state opens up, depending on tax rates and other restrictions, vast sums of money are being expanded to try to be the critical first betting app on a new market’s phones. Elsewhere in this issue, Ozric Vandervelden talks about the hidden cost of bonus abuse – almost on an industrial scale, we suspect –but the other cost may be a tsunami of problem gambling behaviours. The key question is what happens if


PAUL SCULPHER

it’s all unchecked, and what are legislators and operators doing to keep players safe? Worst case, if it were allowed to be a totally – well – Wild West situation, with everyone making a ton of money and huge numbers of unprotected punters getting into a horrific mess, would be a predictable fallout of crime and suicide; such as arguably has been seen in other jurisdictions when commercial concerns raced ahead of legal controls. There’s a counter argument to controls too, along the lines of “what’s the point when crypto bros and inexperienced stock pickers are leveraging up and taking immense risks, and Daily Fantasy Sports has such an impact.” But I’d argue sports betting is far “harder” gambling in terms of both speed of repeat staking, and core links to something every red-blooded American is supposed to love – sports. I spoke with Bill Pascrell III (known affectionately in the industry as BP3), a partner in Princeton Public Affairs Group, who is involved in working with operators (including Entain) and regulators, about where the US is at right now. He was forthright about the need for safer gambling controls to be more than a box-ticking exercise, and recognises that it has to be a priority, not just for the sake of doing the right thing, but as a matter of survival for an embryonic industry in the US. He told me: “It’s useful to think where we started – offline sports betting used at one time to be controlled by the mob, and now we have many new entrants to the industry, there hasn’t been a foundation of responsible gambling policies. Here, VIP was generally a code name for an addict, and that has to

Paul Sculpher but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done. He continued: “It’s time to stop just talking about problem gambling and find solutions. Clinical studies are required, such as the one currently commissioned at Rutgers University, so that solutions can be research and value driven.” Bill went on to tell me about initiatives his clients are looking at, data-driven mechanisms to warn the player when their behaviours begin to look like those of a problem gambler, perhaps resulting in pauses or slowdowns being suggested, or enforced. He also told me about ARC, a process whereby 72 different data points are used to form a profile of a player and their likely

“I enjoy a bet and completely get the concept of having a bet to make the game more fun; but in most developed countries you don’t see that type of cheerleading” change across the board”. He believes that one key pillar regulation is to capture data so that it can be shared across operators; although he recognises that sharing data across states, in an environment where each state has its own legislation (and of course some have none) is more challenging. The concept of a national self-exclusion system, such as SENSE in UK offline casinos, seems along way away,

disposable income, which sounds like a much better way than the current UK system of interactions, questions, bank statements and gas bills, if it’s reliable. Some of the data is provided by the player, some open source material, but it certainly sounds like an interesting initiative. It's designed to provide the highest possible levels of player safety and protection, continuously upgrading and personalising protection

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for Entain's customers. With this information in mind, I also spoke with Karim Chikh, Head of Legal and Compliance Analytics at Kindred Group, about how he saw best practise in what’s a much more mature online betting market in the UK and Europe. His primary point was that responsible gambling considerations should be part of the process as early as possible, and should be tailored to the player’s profile as it develops. “It’s obviously difficult at first, when you know nothing about a player beyond perhaps a TransUnion credit check to make sure they’re not in the process of going bankrupt,” Karim told me. “But as your system sees gambling behaviours it can be set, for example, to deliver a popup after a certain length of play or another metric is triggered”. He was careful to point out that, while some elements of funding behaviour – multiple failed payments, rapid deposits, cancelling withdrawals – might indicate grounds for concern, there are lots of other behaviours that are worth monitoring. Looking at the wider picture, the main concern is that the UK and wider European industry only got to where it is now – at least a safer regulatory structure than was in place before the 2017 Money Laundering Directive – because the societal impact became great enough to generate media stories, which in turn affected the politicians enough to drive them to deliver effective regulation. In a brand new market like the US, with the state-by -state structure of the evolving laws, there’s a short-term / long-term problem. There’s so much money to be made in the early years that there’s little incentive, beyond a purely ethical one, for firms to self-regulate before it’s enforced; and that creates scope for a lot of human harm before rules catch up. So what’s the answer, to make an embryonic industry sustainable in the US? Karim pointed to Kindred’s journey to zero (the mission to reduce percentage of revenue from harmful gambling to 0%) and collaborative approach, where it participates in conferences, commission research which is made public, and even share part of the logic behind its proprietary player monitoring system. True collaboration in a relatively fractured US market will be just as challenging as across Europe – if not more so – and the commercial driving force of maximising profit may lead some companies in the US to push until the regulators push back. We can only hope executives at a senior enough level will see the longer-term picture and recognise that hoovering up vast profits in the early days with little care for player protection will lead, inevitably, to a far harsher crackdown that will hurt everyone and torpedo the industry in the future.

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BONUS ABUSE

ABUSING THE SYSTEM Greco’s Ozric Vondervelden and Philip O’Driscoll discuss the proliferation of bonus abusers, comparing this trend in the US and UK markets

New Jersey, a population of nine million people, is offering $18,575 in withdrawable value per player in less than a week by playing within the promotional T&Cs. Where operators only allow you to take one offer, the highest value offer is taken. Using the operators’ live games lists, we’ve selected the higher RTP slots, sticking to a bust rate of 80%, providing a 20% chance of completing the wagering; a typical target for bonus abusers. We simulated each offer more than a million times to determine the average value of each offer. For sports offers, we calculated

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the value based on the process of dutching (sharing the risk of losing) the offers, assuming a player can find a market with a 98% theoretical RTP. TO BREAK THAT DOWN, WE HAVE: • $14,862 Casino (25 offers) • $7,593 Sport (20 offers) • $18,575 converged (35 offers) This can be proliferated through dutching offers against each other, undermining the bonus engine logic, collusion or using content incompatibilities to undermine wagering requirements; practices which US operators

seem to have very little protection against. Looking at a data sample for percentage distribution of household income in the US in 2020, 27.5% earned less than $15k! So $18.5k for a week’s work is extremely appealing and certainly an incentive for players to scale these processes across multiple identities. It’s a modern day gold rush; the scramble from operators to get licensed and scoop up as much market share as possible is as fraught with danger and pitfalls as the 1800s. The race has begun and there is no shortage of runners. The market value of $2.17bn in 2020, with a projected CAGR



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BONUS ABUSE

(compound annual growth rate) of 17.34% during the forecast period (2021-2026), according to Berkshire Hathaway. This emerging market has not been missed by those looking to make a few extra bucks, nor those that are ready to capitalise on facilitating it. The more popular matched betting subreddit boasts 280,000 members. All sharing best practice on extracting as much value as possible. US focused bonus abuse forums and paid subscription services have already appeared, with guides and calculators to educate bonus abusers. Until now, only those familiar with grey/black market exploitation have been operating from within the US. Now, there is a demand for additional guidance for the everyday person. As well as upskilling people native to the States, there is a growing number of already highly skilled bonus abusers moving to the US to take advantage, as seen in threads across UK abuse forums. Others are accessing the US with remote access tools.

"It’s a modern day gold rush; the scramble from operators to get licensed and scoop up as much market share as possible is as fraught with danger and pitfalls as the 1800s"

As it stands, there are no regulated exchanges in the US due to the cross-state liquidity barrier, which is close to being resolved. Once it has, it will greatly simplify the process to profit from sports offers with less knowledge required. The more sinister scenario is professional bonus abusers scaling their processes through syndicates, or using purchased and/or stolen identities, operating remotely to harvest player profiles. Some of these professionals recruit identities in the light of day, offering very attractive remuneration for identities and KYC documents. We are even seeing people tour university campuses to recruit identities. The trend with US operators is to go live with their brand as fast as possible in each new state, leaving little time for development of a well-thought-out platform. With the platform choice being essential to both player experience and bonus engine solidity,

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it’s concerning to see US operators cut corners, buying up legacy platforms. We’ve identified multiple bonus engines that can be undermined to extract huge value from the promotional money offer. Launching with a high bonus offer and combination of either high wagering, win caps or restrictive game content, might seem like a watertight acquisition strategy. It muddies the water on theoretical value. However, many of the current offers only require between 1-4x turnover requirements with almost no content restrictions. This opens the door for players with no special skills to determine a positive value by counting on their fingers. None of these contingencies are being utilised to cushion operator losses. With everyone following the same race to the bottom, it’s encouraging bonus hopping and disloyalty. The UK is an example of a long term regulated market that started in the same way as the US; high welcome bonus value with a lack of restrictive terms. Through regulation and exposure to savvy players, the UK has been forced to amend tactics with an evolved approach. This means a reduction in huge welcome offers and the sustainable retention of customers. Bonus abuse gained huge traction in the UK, in part because of the large amount of media attention it gathered. The Economist, Vice and the Guardian have all written articles about the phenomenon of players beating the house; something that is conventionally considered impossible. In the US, we’re starting to see bonus abuse gain media attention; Bloomberg recently published an article following one man’s journey in making $37,000. The value on offer in the UK is far less than in the US, yet represents the biggest concentration of bonus abuse in the world, with roughly one million identities forming a multi-billion pound counter-industry. Through our consultancy, we understand the cost to some operators is upwards of seven figures annually, while the price for some operators has been their entire business. New recruits are turning to bonus abuse as a side hustle, as the economy worsens for all. These numbers are likely to grow globally, as more training and guidance is published on a subscription basis to facilitate this appetite. A well-established bonus abuse subscription service in the UK, ‘Profit Accumulator’, claims to have serviced over 200,000 customers with guides and calculators on slots, and sports offers. The company reported a seven-figure net profit in its first two years. The UK had to fix its bonus engines, apply stricter terms and offer less value. The US has no restrictive terms and most of the terms that do exist can be undermined due

to leaky bonus engines, and a lack of industry bonus abuse knowledge. Pioneers of the UK market are shifting towards lower value offers, retention, branding and UX. As the UK reaches market saturation, those that didn’t adapt to retention in time dwindled. If the US follows the same path it could be catastrophic, with higher stakes than there ever were in the UK. The lessons learnt from the UK tell us that the current US strategy is promoting disloyalty and bonus abuse. Once there is an established and skilled counter-industry, it may take decades to resolve.

"Bonus abuse gained huge traction in the UK, in part because of the large amount of media attention it gathered. The Economist, Vice and the Guardian have all written articles about the phenomenon"

With the values at hand, it’s only a small leap for typical players to be exploiting operators by taking advantage of all available promotions. For those that have the experience, the US is offering them an opportunity to live out their retirement in a year’s time. History seems to be repeating itself. The difference is that the US has the opportunity to jump the gun on these issues and let the mistakes of the UK be an example of what not to do. There’s an opportunity for the US to focus not wholly on retention, but also on acquiring and retaining the right players; those that represent long-term positive value.

The team behind Greco have spent over a decade specialising in iGaming promotion abuse and fraud, making a career out of professionally exploiting the industry. Since then, they’ve gone on to consult with over 35 operators, platforms and content creators, becoming the industry go-to for all things risk management. They find innovative solutions to long-standing problems and empower operational teams through education, harnessing data to drive meaningful change, and technical solutions.



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KAMBI - SPORTSBOOK

REVIEW: KAMBI’S FESTIVAL OF SPORTSBOOK The week-long event from the sports betting supplier, in partnership with Gambling Insider, delved further into the world of sports betting and its future

Paul Burns Kambi’s Festival of Sportsbook provided a detailed insight into the current state of affairs in the world of sports betting. Topics such as sports betting integrity, esports and how the group leverages its network data to deliver sports betting experiences were discussed in the week-long event, which ran from 23-27 May 2022. Sports betting is certainly a hot topic, with several states and provinces in North America slowly but surely legalising the pastime, all the while the European markets continue to thrive. Add in the 2022 World Cup, however, and it may just be the most significant year sports betting has ever had. Gambling Insider was on hand to kick off Kambi’s festival in style, with Editor Tim

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Poole hosting the Sports Betting Focus: Executive Roundtable. He was joined by BetWarrior CEO Zeno Ossko, LeoVegas Director of Sports Christian Polsäter and Canadian Gaming Association CEO Paul Burns, to discuss the latest ins and outs of sports betting in LatAm, Europe and Canada respectively. The three guests began with a brief introduction to their respective regions, with Ossko celebrating the third anniversary of BetWarrior, which launched in May 2019. The group focuses on LatAm, having launched regulated markets in Argentina, both in the province and city of Buenos Aires. It’s the company’s biggest market, with Brazil a close second, followed by other South American countries. Canada, meanwhile, while not a new market when it comes to legal sports wagering, has been dominating the headlines lately when it comes to single-event sports betting. The Canadian Gaming Association has been crucial in the latest steps the country has taken with regards to sports betting, with the growing grey market a major motivation when changing the law and amending the criminal code in June 2021 to permit legal single-event sports wagering. And LeoVegas’ Polsäter confirmed the group is most known as a casino brand, having started out with only casino 10 years ago. But times have changed for LeoVegas since then, with the company plugging its sportsbook back in 2016, before acquiring the likes of BetUK and 21.co.uk, as well as Royal Panda and Expekt, both of which operate with a sportsbook. As mentioned, it is an exciting time for

Christian Polsäter sportsbooks for more reasons than one, but perhaps leading the agenda right now is the upcoming 2022 World Cup. As explained by its CEO Ossko, BetWarrior is busy producing content and making sure everything is in place in time for the event this winter. He added the tournament is the biggest acquisition opportunity since the group launched its Argentinian licences. “In our two biggest markets - Argentina and Brazil – everyone is already extremely excited around the World Cup,” he noted. “Our team is located in Argentina and Argentinians are extremely bullish about this year’s tournament. From my perspective as CEO of the company, the most important thing is to make sure we are ready in time to


KAMBI - SPORTSBOOK

make sure we capture the maximum out of this great possibility in terms of acquisition and in terms of branding.” There is, of course, huge European interest in the competition. And it is one in which LeoVegas aims to make the most of, particularly the longer-term aim of growing its sports betting offering. “As always with these big tournaments, it’s super important for us – mainly as an acquisition driver – to really bring in new players,” noted LeoVegas’ Director of Sports. “We’re super excited to see how this World Cup will differ from the ones we have experienced in the past.

"In our two biggest markets - Argentina and Brazil - everyone is already extremely excited around the World Cup” “A lot of our core markets participate in it, so it’s important for us, and it’s something we’ve planned for, for a while actually.” As for Canada, and Ontario especially, everything is on the cards, as explained in more detail by Burns. The NHL playoffs have proved hugely popular with sports bettors, while NFL betting continues to be extremely popular in Canada. “The market has left everything open, there’s really no exclusions, everything’s available, which is very important,” he said. “We wanted to make sure the customers had a wide array of choice and availability for all the products. “Some major brands are entering the marketplace and customers are getting lots of choice, so it’s going to be an exciting time for them,” added Burns. “There’s been lots of local operators, such as NorthStar Bets and theScore, giving a Canadian flavour. It’s been a really good opportunity for those companies to build their business in Ontario.” Of course, the 2022 World Cup isn’t the only talking point in terms of the future of the sports betting industry. The world will be watching the global event, but regions such as Canada, Europe and LatAm each have their own issues to focus on as the months and years go on. Polsäter is expecting more of what the industry has experienced in the last couple of

Zeno Ossko years, and agrees with the general consensus that esports will continue to grow. But one major development he foresees is the way in which people consume sport. “The attention span is getting shorter and shorter, and that’s what players are expecting now when they enter a sportsbook to bet,” he said. “They expect the site to be fast, they expect to find the markets quickly, they expect to be able to place the bet quickly and get the payout quickly and so on, so I think that trend will continue.” Another potential development for LeoVegas and indeed the industry in general is the preference of many younger sports bettors to focus on big names, as opposed to big teams. Polsäter takes football as an example, with the younger generation following the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, with stats-based markets and player props starting to emerge thanks to such world-class, high-profile players. “I think that trend is just going to continue more and more, and customers are going to expect to be able to bet on anything player-related across different sports,” he said. “So that’s one trend that will continue for sure.” While such player markets may not reach the popularity of the more traditional teams markets anytime soon, Polsäter believes they will continue to grow. He concludes that the current discussion within this space is very much football-oriented, but will develop into other sports in the years to come. There are, of course, the “more boring” changes that can be expected, as Polsäter put it. With more and more markets regulating, regulations will more than likely continue to be tougher, especially around issues like bonusing and incentives.

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Such issues, as explained by the LeoVegas Director of Sports, mean operators may have to slightly rethink their approach, but it is by no means a major disruption, particularly when they have a strong product to offer. Polsäter commented: “There are going to be more and more rules around how you incentivise players, which means us operators need to sway from the strategy that might have been there historically of screaming loudest about the highest bonus, to having a really strong product players like and want to come back to.” Increasingly tough regulations on bonusing and incentives, along with the increased costs in areas like data and live streaming, added Polsäter, could certainly scare away many sportsbook operators from starting out from scratch. And the issue of bonuses and incentives is one that is already being closely monitored in Canada, with Burns almost matching Polsäter word for word when it comes to operators opting for a stronger product offering, as opposed to the screaming out of bonuses within their marketing campaigns. “On advertising, one thing that has been really unique – especially from a North American perspective – is that there is no mass-market advertising of bonuses and incentives. That’s been taken away – not through affiliates, not through social media influencers, you can’t do it. You can offer them, but the player has to come to your site to find them. And so that’s really the one big change. “What we’ve seen in the level of offers, while competitive, they’re not nearly at the levels seen in the US. That’s fine, and operators are actually quite pleased with some of this. They can compete on product or customer service, they’re looking forward to that.” BetWarrior’s Ossko is very much in agreement with the increasing significance of regulation, with the CEO noting that the whole of LatAm is “counting down the days for Brazil to regulate.” He believes that once the biggest market in South America regulates, a lot of other markets will follow suit. Brazil, however, may need some time to realise its full potential. “It’s a new product category for a lot of people in the market,” said Ossko. “Yes, everyone cares deeply about football in Brazil, and other indicators for the market point in the right direction as well – mobile penetration is extremely high for example. But it’ll take more time than people might think for the market to realise its full potential." He added: “But definitely in terms of market size, in terms of interest for football and other sports, there are all the right signs for Brazil to be one of the most exciting sports betting markets in the next five years.”

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KAMBI - SPORTSBOOK

ABIOS: BETTING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION Speaking at Kambi’s Festival of Sportsbook, Abios Founder and CEO Oskar Fröberg explains the major differences between esports and traditional sports, with the former comprising a younger, more digitally based audience Also speaking at the Kambi Festival of Sportsbook was Abios Founder and CEO Oskar Fröberg. He delivered the ‘Betting for the next generation’ event, explaining how the esports industry has merely scratched the surface of what is possible in terms of betting. Issues such as esports audience, revenue trends, popularity and what the future holds were all discussed.

YouTube, and less so Facebook Gaming are the most significant broadcasting platforms for esports, while PGL, Blast Pro and Riot Games are the leading tournament organisers. As suggested by Fröberg, the audience and revenue situations have combined to create a positive future for esports. “Not only is the amount of fans and the actual viewership base and player base growing

"Fröberg kicked off the discussion with a brief look into the current state of affairs in esports, explaining that there are 532 million fans within the industry, with that audience expected to grow to 640.8 million by 2025" Fröberg kicked off the discussion with a brief look into the current state of affairs in esports, explaining there are 532 million fans within the industry, with that audience expected to grow to 640.8 million by 2025. And that audience is largely much younger than that of traditional sports, with 30% of the esports audience falling within the 25-34 years-old age bracket. As noted by Fröberg, it is a digitally native audience that is open to trying things online, and is used to purchasing services online. The $1.4bn revenue of the esports market, meanwhile, is expected to grow with a 13.4% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the next three to five years. Further differences within the exciting industry involve broadcasting platforms and tournament organisers. With regards to the former, Twitch,

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significantly, but the revenue per fan in the ecosystem is also growing,” he said. “So you have sort of a dual engine for growth, which will provide really great prospects for the industry as a whole, and for any actor in the industry that is successful or is able to build a business around the industry.” He also touched on the more tangible reasons behind this growing popularity in esports, beginning with the idea that it provides players with the availability to communicate and interact with people from all over the world; with consumers gaining access to everything that is great about traditional sports, but this time in a digital format. Moreover, esports updates at a rapid rate, and is constantly bringing new and exciting features to watch, with border-crossing fan bases, teams and tournaments making it a truly global phenomenon.

The Abios Founder and CEO was eager to point out that there is a distinct difference between esports and more traditional sports such as football, basketball, tennis, golf, etc, with audience again a major factor. He noted: “We do not believe esports and t sports – or traditional sports – are the same. The reason is twofold; one, the audience is younger, more digitally native, and it’s a newer form of audience. And two, as the games are inherently digital, there are other opportunities and ways of going about building products on top of esports. “We think esports should be brought into the sportsbook as a modular experience, either as a standalone product or as a product within the sportsbook, but one that is customised to the esports viewer and experience. We do not think the esports experience should look exactly the same as a hockey, tennis or football product, for example.” Another major difference between the worlds of esports and traditional sports, as explained by Fröberg, is data gathering. With the latter, it involves scouting, whereby someone watches a match or event and logs whatever is happening. But in esports there is another means, known as server data, which “allows for way more granularity, way faster data and way more detailed data points,” noted Fröberg. “So we can basically connect to the servers and understand everything that’s going on at any point in time. “We will essentially have every single data point on every single movement, mouse click – whatever is going on in the server. Obviously in order to get such access, we need to have rights agreements with either the game publisher or with tournament organisers, and that’s something we work towards. Just like you would need to buy the data rights in traditional sports, you need to buy the data rights in esports.” With such a process, he explained, it is highly important – particularly when building an odds product – to have the fastest, most granular and most reliable data.


KAMBI - SPORTSBOOK

FEATURES

SPORTS BETTING INTEGRITY: FIVE CHALLENGES TO A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE Speaking at Kambi’s Festival of Sportbook, three sports betting integrity experts offer insight into the latest issues within this key aspect of the vertical Another event throughout the Kambi Festival of Sportsbook involved integrity, with Kambi’s Sportsbook Control Team Leader Matias Cooper hosting the ‘Sports betting integrity: five challenges to a sustainable future’ discussion. He was joined by Silvia Paleari, Director of Public Affairs at the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA), and ATG Sportsbook Manager John Andersson. Discussed at length was the importance of stakeholder collaboration when it comes to sports betting integrity, as well as the prevention of match-fixing across many different sports. Cooper introduced the former by explaining that, in a hugely competitive industry, this is one area where operators must agree when it comes to sports betting integrity and fighting match-fixing. “Obviously sports betting is an area where there are quite robust commercial rivalries across the board between operators,” he said. “But when it comes to integrity, it seems like collaboration is actually somewhere where they are all willing to work together, to work alongside each other.”

data and cooperation as possible within the industry, both in Sweden and internationally. We feel it’s of great importance to get information to make qualified decisions.” And when asked if collaboration is a fundamental pillar of what the IBIA does, Paleari replied: “Absolutely, collaboration is the key, and is the very core of what we do. It’s also why our association exists in the first place. It’s important to remember that IBIA – which back in 2005 was called ESSA (Sports Betting Integrity) – was founded by sports betting operators for sports betting operators. They decided to come together and create a monitoring and alert platform, and that our organisation would then manage this platform.” With access to the platform, other IBIA members can “reply to alerts, saying whether they saw something similar or not, and if indeed they saw something similar, they should also detail why they consider that suspicious and what they saw essentially,” said Paleari. “We as an association would then collect all the data and all the evidence to investigate

"Agreeing with both Andersson and Paleari, Cooper noted that: 'As the industry develops, the match-fixing and integrity concerns can become more developed as well'” Explaining ATG’s stance on the situation, Andersson noted: “There’s always a balance between having an attractive offer and having a reduced offer, so we want to have as much

further. And if we do have indeed enough elements to consider that alert suspicious, we would pass it on to the relevant authorities.” As mentioned, the issue of match-fixing

was also discussed by Cooper, Andersson and Paleari, specifically the prevention of match-fixing, and being proactive around driving down other such integrity concerns. IBIA’s Director of Public Affairs suggested that prevention should happen at the athlete level, saying that “athlete education is really key to preventing match-fixing, and trying to break the chain that would happen if the corruptor would manage to convince the athlete to fix the match.” One step that has been taken in this area was the recent appointment of Jean-François Reymond as IBIA’s new Education Ambassador for Athletes earlier this year. He will be “creating education campaigns, including in jurisdictions that have recently opened up sports betting markets,” remarked Paleari. “Education campaigns with athletes is not necessarily something that has been developed that much, so we will build on the experience we have gathered in Europe and try to export it in those jurisdictions through education campaigns.” Again offering the perspective of an operator, ATG’s Sportsbook Manager noted that there are many different factors at play, concurring that education is a crucial aspect in this space. “We fully support the education of athletes and information spreading in that sense. I think it also involves data providers. There are many different aspects of betting, it’s not only the athletes and the gaming companies, it’s data providers and a whole bunch of different entities.” Agreeing with both Andersson and Paleari, Cooper noted that: “As the industry develops, the match-fixing and integrity concerns can become more developed as well. It’s about trying to stay one step ahead, and education is an interesting point, seeing how much can be done around the people around the athletes as well, and other people involved in the sports.”

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INDUSLAW

GAMING IN INDIA: HALF-TIME 2022 Ranjana Adhikari, Partner at IndusLaw, and Shashi Shekhar Misra, Associate at IndusLaw, discuss the Good, the Bad & the Ugly for Gaming in India – halfway through 2022 It is not often that antonyms together best describe a situation. But the year so far for online gaming in India is one such situation. In this article, we take you on a rollercoaster ride, summing up the significant regulatory updates that have impacted the online gaming industry in India so far in 2022. To better anticipate what may come next, read on for everything that mattered and will (most likely) matter for the remaining part of this year. Karnataka High Court quashes real-money gaming ban, State decides to appeal to the Supreme Court: In what was perhaps the most anticipated and significant decision for the online skill gaming industry, on 14 February 2022, the Karnataka HC quashed a majority of the provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021. This thereby lifted the blanket ban that had been imposed in the state in October 2021 on all games (including online skill games) played for stakes. The HC found the ban to be lacking

Ranjana Adhikari

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in legislative competence, in contravention of the fundamental right to do business in skill games and also held that playing skill games online and/or with stakes did not amount to gambling. In a novel observation, the HC held that playing skill games is a part of an individual’s right to expression and personal liberty; and cannot be curtailed except through constitutionally recognised reasonable restrictions. However, a month later, the State of Karnataka announced that it was moving the Supreme Court of India in appeal against the HC’s judgement. The State has claimed that the HC did not consider the evidence adduced by it and erred in holding that the State did not have legislative competence. Though the Supreme Court is yet to hear the appeal, it may do so in the next few months and may even club it with the State of Tamil Nadu’s appeal against a similar judgement of the Madras High Court. All eyes are now on India’s highest constitutional court! Central Government bans another tranche of mobile apps, including Garena’s Free Fire: In February 2022, without an official notification, the Central Government issued blocking orders against 54 mobile apps, including Garena’s popular Free Fire mobile game. It is widely believed that the ban was imposed owing to these apps having ‘Chinese links’ – in view of India’s ongoing geo-political tensions with China. In response to a question raised about the ban in the Indian Parliament, the Central Government replied that the apps were blocked under relevant information technology law provisions in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India and security of the State. As per the Government, these apps were collecting various user data and transmitting it in an unauthorised manner to servers abroad (specifically China) for profiling. The blocking orders

and their grounds are instructive for gaming companies operating in India, and the precautions they should take with regards to data localisation and the location of their gameplay servers. Central Government gives impetus to ‘Create in India’: Recognising the growing demand for engaging content in the country, the Central Government recently announced a slew of measures to build capacity for serving the domestic and foreign market. In April 2022, an Animation Video Gaming Comics (“AVGC”) Promotion Task Force consisting of government and industry stakeholders was set up and has been asked to, inter alia, draft a national AVGC policy and suggest incentives to attract foreign investment in the AVGC sector. The Task Force will submit its report in July 2022. In similar news, the Central Government is also planning to launch a Digital Gaming Research Initiative to develop the gaming ecosystem in India for promoting India-centric games. The Initiative is likely to focus on both learning and leisure gaming. For reasons of their own, multiple states look to enact laws for online gaming: In August 2021, the Madras High Court had quashed the state of Tamil Nadu’s ban on real-money gaming as unconstitutional. Since then, there has been a growing demand from several political leaders in the State Legislature to enact a new law on online gaming. In Jan 2022, the Chief Minister is reported to have assured the State Legislature that he will ‘bring an end to online gaming’. It will be interesting to see whether the mounting political pressure leads to a new law or the Government decides to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on its appeal. In the State of Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, the Government responded to social pressure for a law to curb online gaming addiction following the suicide of a minor in January 2022. The State Home Minister has



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INDUSLAW

said that a draft law to regulate online gaming is ready and would soon be finalised. India’s western State of Maharashtra is reportedly (thankfully) approaching the regulation of online gaming from the perspective of revenue for the State. In March 2022 it was reported that the State is planning to amend multiple existing laws to regularise online gaming but with a high taxation rate. Currently, the State Government is seeking the views of senior police office officers in the State on this proposal. Regional High Courts ask State Governments to decide legality of poker and fantasy sports: Amid the regulatory uncertainty, petitions in some regional High Courts have led to the courts asking the respective State Governments to take a stand on the legality of certain games. In January 2022, in response to a public interest litigation filed by a social activist, the Bombay High Court asked the State Government to clarify its stance on whether online poker is a game of skill or gambling under the state’s gambling law. The petitioner contended that the outcome of each round of poker is purely dependent on luck with no element of skill. Similarly, the Delhi High Court has asked the State Government to decide whether fantasy sports is a game of skill or gambling under the state’s gambling law. The petitioner in this case is a fantasy sports operator (GameKing11), which alleged that the police authorities were threatening to book it for gambling offences despite fantasy sports being a game of skill. While Maharashtra is yet to file its response, the Delhi HC petition has been disposed of, with instructions to the State Government to decide the legality of the petitioner’s fantasy sports operations.

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Shashi Shekhar Misra The stand that the governments take will be important because only specific formats of these two games have been held to be games of skill by other courts (not all fantasy sports formats automatically qualify as games of skill; currently the Dream11 online fantasy sports format has been judicially upheld as a game of skill, but for other formats it may depend on their facts and circumstances), and because both these states have physicalonly, pre-internet gambling statutes; and the games in question are being offered online. Empowered Group of Ministers propose highest GST slab for all kinds of online gaming: To add to the woes of the skill gaming industry in India, an empowered Group of Ministers (“GoM”) which was constituted in 2021 to review and advise the

Goods and Service Tax Council, in respect of the tax rate & valuation basis of GST for the online gaming sector, casinos and horse racing, etc., has reportedly unanimously agreed to increase the GST tax rate to the highest slab of 28% for all kinds of online games (irrespective of skill or chance) and to levy it on the ‘bet value’. Industry associations and other stakeholders had petitioned the Government to retain the 18% rate for online skill gaming. However, it appears that not only has the GoM ignored the judicially recognised distinction between 'games of skill' and 'games of chance' but has also chosen to be influenced by the negative narrative surrounding online gaming in India, thereby equating it with the wrong parameter viz. gambling instead of legitimate counterparts such as OTT. It would be unfortunate for the industry if the GST Council were to eventually accept these recommendations. All eyes are now on the GST Council! State of Rajasthan circulates a draft law on esports and fantasy sports for public comments: In May 2022, the skill gaming industry received a surprise from the State of Rajasthan in the form of a draft bill for the recognition and licensing of esports, and online fantasy sports, in the state. This is the first contemporary gaming law that any major state in India has proposed which doesn’t impose a blanket ban. The draft bill seeks to introduce a licensing regime for esports, online fantasy sports and other approved derivative formats of online fantasy sports (collectively referred to as “Virtual Online Sports”) that are offered online to users in the State for stakes. The draft bill proposes a mechanism of a recognised Self-Regulatory Authority for certain purposes, including certification of games and a Virtual Online Sports Commission for exercising State Government oversight. Though the draft bill is certainly a progressive step, it does raise some questions on whether it is practical and feasible to have state-by-state laws for an online-based industry. The industry would definitely benefit if the Central Government were to step in and enact an overarching law for online gaming, and avoid state-wise compliances and obligations. Also, for any regulation on online gaming to be a balanced one, it should cover the skill gaming industry as a whole rather than only a few sectors. Central Government reportedly sets up an inter-ministerial committee to explore avenues for regulation of online gaming: At the time of writing this article, it has been reported that the Central Government has set up a seven-member panel to work on evolving regulations for the online gaming industry, and to identify a central ministry to oversee it. The committee will submit its report in three months.



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BIG QUESTION

What does the future look like for lottery - both retail and online? Will Whitehead, Commercial Director, mkodo

Will Whitehead Advances of the 21st century have significantly improved how consumers integrate digital elements into their every day lives. In the gaming, betting and lottery sectors, operators make considerable effort to create an easy-to-use and engaging customer experience that rivals other enhancements technology has provided the entertainment industry. And while the Covid-19 outbreak dealt a heavy blow to retail and provided a significant shift in the way we shop, lotteries and retailers alike have recognised the key to success is making the customer experience the top priority. The death of retail is not as imminent as was once thought. For lotteries in particular, retailers are still at the core of their ecosystem. Impulse purchases and the footfall of players looking to buy lottery tickets in a retail environment cannot be underestimated. That being said, today’s consumers will shop online or in-person, based on their preference, convenience and maybe even the weather. Integrating a digital strategy is vital to engaging a new generation of players, as well as revitalising the excitement for core and infrequent players. When we look to the future, the demand for convenience will be imminent and innovative products that provide a better

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user experience will be at the forefront. For example, checking winning numbers accessed via an app or web app, “Ticket Scanners,” provides players with instant results and can quickly move them to second-chance games if available. This functionality can evolve further into “Mobile Cashing,” allowing players to digitally collect winnings on their device from a ticket purchased at retail. Moreover, if regulation allows for customers to buy a lottery ticket or place a wager on a mobile device outside of retail, a digital offering is an essential tool to give power to a customer to decide when and where they play. This is an excellent example of how retail and digital can work together as the industry, and consumer behaviours continue to evolve over the next five to 10+years. A better user experience also means customisation. Best-in-class design featuring enhanced navigation and an intuitive user interface is expected among all leading apps, and players are looking for convenience based on their interests. One way to do this is to build a digital fingerprint of the player from their activity and usage of the digital platform to retail cross-promotions. All of these small digital touchpoints allow lotteries to better understand the preferences of each specific player and enable them to provide customised promotional campaigns, and push notifications for a player’s favourite games and activities. “Known play” opens a whole new world for retail-only operators who have historically had limited access to information about their player base. Wherever a lottery is on its digital journey, there are ways to begin integrating digital touchpoints to allow for a more

streamlined transition; as they introduce innovative digital products to their players. For example, a first chance digital lottery game offers players a traditional lottery experience that begins and ends at retail. The ticket is purchased at a brick-and-mortar retailer and is scratched to reveal a QR code and URL, which players can scan on a mobile device or enter into a desktop computer to play a digital game. The player must return to retail to redeem the winning ticket, creating a full-circle transaction. As lotteries develop and launch new products and services, they need to place their players at the centre of the brand experience. This means considering when, where and how customers want to play, and ensuring they have products in place to meet them wherever they are - including, for example, in-lane at grocery stores, in social establishments, and on their phones, making it easy for them to interact with the lottery brand. Traditional brick-and-mortar retail and digital lottery are not competing. Whether players prefer to purchase or play online or offline, it’s all about creating the best customer experience at that moment in that channel. Will has been at mkodo for close to 10 years and acts as the Commercial Director, heading up the New Business, Account Management and Marketing departments. Will has developed deep experience of apps and the iGaming industry throughout his years at mkodo. mkodo partners with iGaming operators, operators such as Ontario Lottery Group, British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Danske Spil and Mecca Bingo, driving engagement and increasing revenues, by creating best-in-class apps, websites and digital user experiences as well as Geolocation solutions.



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BIG QUESTION

Julin Shaw, Senior Director of Brand Marketing and Business Development, NeoPollard Interactive below we list the top trends that will influence the future of lottery.

Julin Shaw Technology advancements and the ongoing migration of consumers to digital interactions and online purchases underscore the need for continued modernisation in the lottery industry. Significant progress has been made as lotteries build a digital presence through social, digital marketing strategies and engagement tactics supported by convenience apps and player loyalty programs. This foundation, now influenced by the expansion of iGaming and sports betting, puts lotteries squarely in line to match the pace of other forms of gaming that have already moved to online and mobile channels. To date, only seven US lotteries have introduced full iLottery programs by complementing their retail portfolios with eInstant games and draw games online. Varying regulatory limitations affect each lottery’s ability to introduce online wagering, but many have accelerated non-wagering programs like virtual cashing and loyalty, providing a foundation for the necessary evolution to online sales. For lotteries to continue returning significant funding to state budgets,

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DIGITAL EXPANSION Since 2011, only seven states have introduced full iLottery programs where both eInstant and draw games are sold online. In stark contrast, sports betting has been legalised in 34 states plus Washington DC in the short four years since the repeal of PASPA opened the door to the expansion of this market. The acceleration of iLottery is an essential component to the growth and sustainability of the $95bn US lottery industry. Adoption of iLottery programs has proven to increase awareness and broaden playership to new audiences that expect digital purchase and engagement. The average age of the mobile eInstant player is 47, signaling that iLottery helps draw in a different audience than traditional retail lottery, while appealing across age segments based on rising ecommerce trends. TRUE OMNICHANNEL With a decade of US-based performance data, iLottery is proven to complement traditional retail lottery sales. In fact, states within NPi’s partner network saw an average of 32% growth in total retail sales in FY21, as compared to the US average growth rate of 23% over FY20. The parallel growth of retail sales has been spurred on through innovative strategies that drive convergence between retail and online channels. Through the pandemic, consumers have been trained to engage with brands in a different way that is heavily reliant on technology; so the expectation is already set in terms of how brands will need to connect retail and digital experiences. PLAYER EXPERIENCE The improved connectivity afforded through digital expansion ultimately serves the player. As lottery becomes more accessible, convenient and relevant, acquisition and retention efforts benefit. Spurred by the acceleration of iGaming and sports betting, personalisation and real-time marketing are trends that are affecting both retail and online channels, as brands compete to meet the expectations of a digital gaming consumer. Investing in solutions that allow lotteries to design ultra-personalised player journeys directly improves iLottery KPIs in terms of reducing friction in the path to player acquisition, conversion and retention. As sophistication continues to improve in

data collection along the lottery player journey, across channels, opportunities to predict player personas and provide custom-created journeys that align to a player’s end goal when visiting an iLottery website is quickly becoming the expectation. Consumers expect to be able to reach content or complete a desired action quickly. The right data capture and improved predictive capabilities will allow lotteries to maximise this trend that additionally enable real-time marketing strategies to steer desired player actions.

"Significant progress has been made as lotteries build a digital presence through social, digital marketing strategies and engagement tactics" Finally, increased reliance on digital wallets that reduce friction at the point of purchase – whether physical or digital – supports the evolution of lottery to true omnichannel experiences revolving around the player. Enabling the purchase of lottery products through a single digital wallet supports ongoing data collection, feeds the ability to deliver personalised, relevant engagement strategies and also strengthens responsible gaming programs, through greater program efficiency afforded by registered play and real-time data collection across channels. Julin Shaw is the Senior Director of Brand Marketing and Business Development for NeoPollard Interactive. With over a decade of lottery experience, Julin’s career has traversed the modernisation trajectory of the US lottery industry, ranging from the introduction of mobile convenience apps and game apps, loyalty programs and comprehensive iLottery technology and operational services. In her role, Julin is responsible for NPi’s corporate marketing and communications, business development and government relations where she advocates for the continued modernisation of lottery gaming across North America.



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BIG QUESTION

Wayne Pickup, Chief Executive of Camelot North America

Wayne Pickup To continue generating essential state income, lotteries need a modern playbook that seizes opportunities for responsible growth. However, some things will remain crucial for ongoing lottery success: • Differentiation from other forms of gaming, with powerful brands that are strongly linked to good causes and built on responsible gaming principles • A wide variety of game content and a well -executed roadmap to keep players engaged • An expansive retail network to provide the sales muscle • Data and insights underpinning all activity – from game design to advertising placement and in-store merchandising. • Omnichannel experiences. The future of

lottery will embrace digital technology to innovate product and player experiences. Digital and retail should be seen as complementary channels, with retail sales growing in parallel to new digital experiences and revenue streams, as player engagement improves. Future-focused lotteries will move towards an omnichannel view, working within legislative guardrails to offer players an immersive digital play experience across all channels. In its most basic form, this includes ticket scanning of physical tickets and email /push notifications, leading to a digital roadmap focused on delivering more engaging experiences such as animated game play in retail. The Illinois Lottery has become the first US lottery to offer draw-based Fast Play games for sale online and to create a digital play experience for players purchasing tickets in retail (known as “Scan-N-Play”), which are driving significant player and sales growth. A regular cadence of game launches with progressive content will keep players engaged.

“Improved media targeting and advanced AI models will produce a higher return on investment of marketing dollars”

Marketing efficiency. The marketing budget is typically the highest controllable cost line item and yet is often not deployed efficiently. By getting marketing dollars to work smarter, lotteries are able to significantly reduce spend without impacting top-line results. A strategic shift to programmatic media, improved media targeting and advanced AI models will produce a higher return on investment of marketing dollars – supporting the retail estate through dynamic allocation of spend, and better understanding of

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the performance of marketing assets. The Illinois Lottery reduced its existing marketing budget by almost a third, while growing returns to the state year-over-year. Data-led decision making. Modern lotteries put their players at the heart of decision making, surrounded by an ecosystem that aligns the retail and digital experience. Lotteries have a huge amount of data coming at them from retail and online channels (web, mobile, app), promotions, CRM systems and marketing to name a few sources. By leveraging available data, lotteries can better understand consumer behaviour, and the attributes and preferences of various customer segments. Leveraging available player and sales data to generate actionable insights will drive incremental growth, across retail and digital channels. Digital growth, in particular, requires targeting players based on typical behaviour and the use of machine-learning models to predict player behaviour. Manual and automated communication flows can then be created for player segments based on play habits, subscription status, wallet status, location and communication history. Responsible gaming. An important differentiator for lottery products, which are purely games based on chance, is a lower risk profile than other forms of gaming. A successful lottery aims to encourage more people to play a little and increase playership across all games. An ambitious lottery growth strategy should therefore put equal focus on creating a responsible gaming environment for players, retailers and employees that is incorporated across all areas of the business. Responsibly growing the lottery in a challenging operating environment ensures the long-term health and viability of the lottery with a focus on online safeguards, education and support for retailers; and readily available access to treatment and support across all channels and games. A program of innovation focused on omnichannel product experiences, marketing efficiency, and data-led decision making, will help lotteries expand their player base and drive responsible growth over time. Camelot North America engages as the operating partner with state governments to deliver superior outcomes for their lottery assets, focused on growing net returns from lottery operations. Camelot North America is the private manager of the Illinois Lottery and the operating partner for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.



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ALEX CZAJKOWSKI

FROM THE PLAYERS’ SIDE Veteran iGaming marketeer Alex Czajkowski takes a look at things from the opposite side of the fence, in a bid to encourage sustainability among casino brands If casinos are amusement parks for adults (a fair analogy), video slots are the rollercoasters. Blackjack, my “favourite” game, is a grind. No 500x return on bets there — we get excited when we can double down. But you do use your brain if you play properly. Baccarat is fundamentally “war” you played as kids with slightly revised rules (and the number one table game in Asia by far). Europe’s favourite, roulette, has

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been re-energised with Evolution’s Lightning Roulette. If you play roulette, this is the go-to table. And craps is the large and loud American in the room (and I mean that in a good way). But, done well, that “mindless” spinning of reels can be real fun (pun intended). And I certainly don’t mean entering the “zombie phase” as social slots expert Guy Hasson refers to (and we debate about this almost all of the time). No, a good slot is engaging, exciting, fun and often rewarding,

either in your balance or your brain. A bad slot, you give it a few spins and move on to the next one. Of course, “serious” slots players, people who play a lot of slots, have their favourites. Ask a couple of hundred players for their favourite and you’ll probably get close to a couple hundred answers and no real consensus. NetEnt’s Starburst might come up a bit — and having played it, can see why. From 2013, this low volatility game has an average


ALEX CZAJKOWSKI

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“Of course they’ll ask for the next bonus — that’s their fix. Gives them more time to play, to relax, to disappear in what looks like a mindless activity but is actually generating as many endorphins as the world’s longest, most exciting rollercoaster”

RTP of 96.09%. Or Microgaming’s 2006 Mega Moolah, with 25 lines and an RTP of 88.12% but a life-changing jackpot beckons. I’m always glad to see Pragmatic Play/ Reel Kingdom’s Big Bass Bonanza (and its variations) in the frame. In its original 2020 incarnation, it had 10 Betways... was it ruined or saved with a Megaways version? I can argue both sides but personally, as a slots player, I prefer fewer lines on most games. But always play all lines, of course! Big Bass Bonanza has a slightly below average RTP of 95.67 — but you won’t notice when you hit those bonus rounds with Olaf from the docks as your drinking buddy (he responds well to promises of craft beer and Jaeger-bombs as boat drinks). Virtual drinking with slot characters is about as social as slots players get. The very weird (and once lucrative, still for some) world of “social casinos” aside, slots players are not social animals. Crushing you in a slots tournament is about as close to personal interaction as you’ll get. Unless you sit on the operator’s side of an online chat. Then you have a new set of besties who, when not chasing for free spins or the whereabouts of their withdrawal, can get downright personal. In part, often, perhaps sadly, they have

no one else. Or certainly few others who share their enthusiasm for their preferred endorphin-generator, online slots. So your chat operators (or VIP hosts) are the sympathetic ear, the non-judgemental and genuinely concerned rare human

Alex Czajkowski

friends of the solitary slot player. It may play havoc with your time-to-closure chat KPI but it can become a vital part of the player experience at your casino. And should. To hell with this KPI; get a bigger chat team. Because if it’s good for the player, it’s good for your bottom line. Slots players, serious slots players, aren’t in it “only for the winning.” They are very much in it for the ride. Of course they’ll moan about the RTP — without necessarily calling it that. And of course they’ll ask for the next bonus — that’s their fix. Gives them more time to play, to relax, to disappear in what looks like a mindless activity but is actually generating as many endorphins as the world’s longest, most exciting rollercoaster. This is what they’re paying you for: a positive experience. They say employees don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses. Maybe. But give your players the love, attention and care that they deserve, and pay for, and they’ll never leave (and yes they will go to the next casino your VIP host goes to). Treat them poorly, like an anonymous number, and they’ll do the same to you. Give them a good ride for their money. And it’s not RG or OK to take all of their money at once. Play the long game with your slots player… they are.

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FEATURES

IVAN MONTIK

SELLING MORE THAN A PRODUCT CEO & Founder of Softswiss Ivan Montik speaks to Gambling Insider about the importance of placing people at the heart of a business, amid ever-changing and volatile markets How has Softswiss grown to reach the stage it is at now? How have you adapted your approach to the business as it evolved? Softswiss has grown in several stages. I would say we have gone through three stages since we were founded. In the first stage, we were just a small company of people focused on different areas of development. At that time, we were essentially an IT company. Softswiss started with just three people, including myself. It was a long road securing our first orders, and fighting for clients from Germany and other European countries; as we got up and running. I was mostly dealing with European clients in the beginning. Eventually, we became a company of between 30 to 35 people and an idea was born to grow our own product. When studying the field of investment, it was our understanding that there was a significant gap between good software IT solutions for the gambling industry and the ones that were actually in use on the market. So we decided to create a platform for casino operations, one that could be supplied as a B2B product for our prospective customers on the market. This heralded the start of the second stage of Softswiss’ history, which was a tough time at the start because we had an extremely limited understanding of the market back then. However, we were strong enough concerning our IT skills, using our background to create properly structured software. This became our trademark, so to speak, creating high-quality software that is stable and smooth with no downtime. This was also the time when we felt we were moving to become a definable business. As a start-up we did not receive any investment, so everything began off our own backs. This stage ended in about 2016 and we began to grow from a position of relevant establishment. Stage two was also a time when I was constantly looking for a unique selling

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point – one was our stable software solution of course – but a second was our cryptofriendly solution established in 2013. Here we began our attempts to add Bitcoin among other features that would help people use Bitcoin for play. However, a solution should always include safety features for the operator. We created a classic online solution for Bitcoin, which was extremely helpful for our reputation and our growth as a business. The third stage, spanning 2016 to now, is a time when we got a lot of attention on the market. It has still been as successful and exciting as stage two, an era when we have taken a lot of good decisions to move in the right direction. We have invested a lot into the company, the team and new applications able to replicate third-party applications, among other things.

"The people we employ, although often young and inexperienced, share the same core values for work I and my partners have" With what mission and objectives was the company established? How do you think the company is viewed now compared to when it was founded? When the first partners joined me in creating Softswiss, the key element to the basis of this partnership was based on a shared mindset. I always said to my partners that my mindset was the mindset of the business. For me, I must work with people who share this mindset,

and who have the same values and philosophy. If you are one type of person in life, drinking alcohol, rude and lazy, and then you come to work and you are a totally different person; it doesn’t work like that here. Therefore, the people we employ, although often young and inexperienced, share the same core values for work I and my partners have. The people we employ are oriented toward creating something new and aim to produce the best solutions possible for our clients. Our mission is of course to create a top-quality platform, but our competitors can do this too. Our focus is to provide much better service than can be found on the market at large. If you have great service a client will work with you, regardless of a few issues that could occur on the platform. We are transparent with our clients, we show them the problem, the means to fix the problem and when the problem will be fixed. It is about the client seeing us as a friend: this is what is most important. We apply this transparent philosophy internally too. If I do not like something I am open with my team, explaining my views in a clear, open way. I expect the same from the team, too: if someone doesn’t agree with something their opinion should be heard. I would much rather this than my team sitting in silence; this is not a good working environment. Everyone who wants to express an opinion should be able to. What is your approach to finding talent? How do your recruitment strategies differ from the iGaming industry more widely? Up until we had around 100 people at Softswiss, I was interviewing each applicant myself. You always have this feeling when you are interviewing someone as to whether they are the right fit or not. Of course, it is important to ask an interviewee technical questions relevant to the role, but it is still important to ask personal questions; what is


IVAN MONTIK

their family life like? Where are they from? What are their goals? These simple questions can help you understand if the applicant is your type of person or not. The young people we hire are also required to be very smart and fast thinking. The workplace culture we wanted is one with a lot of ideas and energy. Most of the people we hire are still with us, having come straight from university. Most now hold top positions at Softswiss and some are even in management roles. Why is creating a culture around the people who work for you so important? Some corporate cultures do not place as much value on individuals. People are the core of any business in my view. Getting clients and establishing the correct processes is important too – without clients you cannot do business. But if you don’t have a core team that shares your values and the values of the company, it can be highly detrimental to unity as the business grows. Right now, we have around 1,300 people at Softswiss, so I can’t deliver these core values by myself. This is when you need your managers, the people who share your mindset. They can share these values with the wider team. That isn’t to say they need to think exactly like you, but having the same ethics and sharing the same ethos is what is important. For example, this is a serious and tough time in the world; this is even closer to home here as we are a company with a presence in Belarus. Many people at Softswiss share in the pain felt by Ukraine and the wider Belarusian people who are occupied by Russia. We as a business can’t take one side or another; there is staunch support for Ukraine but we are in a Russian-occupied country; there is only so much we can do. We must learn to work with people who share different values in Belarus, as some support the Russian invasion. We must learn to accept differences while moving towards our common goals as a company. This is all done flexibly. We would much rather be flexible than implement hard processes and regimented working standards.

What must you consider when promoting your business to prospective partners? How does brand promotion differ for clients over employees? It works in the sense that our clients know we have a dedicated team. Our clients work with different employees here at Softswiss on different tasks. Not only does this build personal rapport between us and our clients, it also helps to provide great feedback on our services. Our service has become renowned following this process and it is now what we are known for. This is our reputation and

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this is the brand as well. What you cultivate is something much more than the product itself; it is a working culture you create. How do you plan to develop further as a company in the next 12 to 24 months? How will Softswiss move into the next stage of its development? Now you could say we are moving into stage four. There are new challenges at the company; we opened several offices abroad, which has begun a completely new process. This is the continuation of a new experience for us. First, it was the pandemic, then a falsified election in Belarus; a lot of sad things started to happen in the country. People were being relocated out of Belarus and now we have a war in Ukraine. All around, things are quite complicated. It is a new challenge now and from a business perspective we need to stay strong; not just maintaining our current levels but pushing further and moving forward. We have new offices, in Poland and Georgia, and relocated staff in Cyprus, Portugal and Lithuania. At the start of the year, we also opened a new office in Estonia. This is a new challenge for us and we are trying to find the best tools to manage things in our own way. Recently, we onboarded a new HR Director too, a very experienced Director from Ukraine who is already having a significant impact. So, we’re incredibly happy about that.

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ROUNDTABLE

THE IMPORTANCE OF STREAMERS Industry leaders from Armadillo Studios – EveryMatrix, Relax Gaming, Evoplay & Gaming Arts discuss the increasing importance of influencers/streamers in the gaming industry

MARIJA HAMMON Relax Gaming Head of Marketing RAZVAN HAIDUC Armadillo Studios CEO (EveryMatrix)

JEAN VENNEMAN Gaming Arts COO VLADIMIR MALAKCHI Evoplay Chief Commercial Officer

VLADIMIR

HOW IMPORTANT ARE INFLUENCERS/ STREAMERS AS A MARKETING MEDIUM FOR GAME MANUFACTURERS?

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MARIJA HAMMON:


ROUNDTABLE

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MARIJA HAMMON:

JEAN VENNEMAN:

WHAT DO GAME MANUFACTURERS LOOK FOR IN A STREAMER/ INFLUENCER?

VLADIMIR MALAKCHI:

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ROUNDTABLE

VLADIMIR MALAKCHI:

DO B2B SUPPLIERS EMPLOY STREAMERS/ INFLUENCERS DIRECTLY, OR DO THEY RELY ON STREAMERS/ INFLUENCERS TO COVER THEIR GAMES ORGANICALLY?

MARIJA HAMMON: RAZVAN HAIDUC:

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ROUNDTABLE

RAZVAN HAIDUC:

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MARIJA HAMMON:

WHAT DO B2B SUPPLIERS HAVE TO DO DIFFERENTLY WITH STREAMERS, AS OPPOSED TO OPERATORS AND AFFILIATES?

JEAN VENNEMAN:

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THE INSIDERS In every issue, Gambling Insider commissions guest columns from and interviews with people at the heart of the gaming industry – to discover more about the challenges its leaders, pioneers and innovators face. These contributors form The Insiders

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DIMA REIDERMAN BtoBet

KARL ZAMMIT PandaScore

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CAROLINE PONSETI Herald Group

RICHARD GALE XLMedia

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INSIDERS DIMA REIDERMAN

The challenges of personalisation BtoBet COO Dima Reiderman speaks to Gambling Insider about the complexities of personalising sportsbook offerings for the user, and how best to advance a player’s online experience We have heard countless times that the iGaming industry is lagging significantly behind other sectors in the entertainment industry when it comes to personalisation. Yet one has to make peace with the fact that up until the time arrives when betting experiences are personalised, the landing pages on betting sites ought to be optimised to accommodate different types of players. This could be segmented into two main pillars – those who want to engage themselves and place their bet as quickly as possible, and those players who prefer to go down the longer route, navigating the content offered and subsequently making their decision. However, the question remains: why is personalisation such a difficult aspect to deliver when it comes to sports betting?

environment that allows them to leverage a higher level of control. This is especially relevant when analysing the engagement of players with the bet builder product in comparison to the pre-packaged combination of bets, which are seeing a decrease in popularity and subsequently player engagement.

UNDERSTANDING BEHAVIOUR THROUGH DATA ANALYTICS

THE CHALLENGES FOR PERSONALISATION

First and foremost, from a technical perspective personalisation on a very broad player level would require the processing of a significantly high volume of data with minimal delay, which adds to the complexity of the challenge. One also has to understand that while technology is readily available, not all operators have the necessary tools to deliver a player-centric experience. Only by having the right technology can operators tap into player betting behaviours, betting preferences, and amounts deposited and staked among many other filters. These factors increase player engagement through a more personalised approach based on individual preferences or trending events that could still instil interest in the player. Thus, through advanced ML, operators can build and constantly update the profile of each bettor. So, every bet recommendation, or other personalised aspects throughout the player experience, will be highly relevant to what the players like to bet on and when they like to wager.

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Furthermore, personalisation would also require a decision to be made regarding which points of contact should be prioritised for a player. Should personalisation be based solely on preferred sports? Should personalisation go on a more granular level and make it easier for a player to navigate to their preferred league? Or should the player be presented with specific bet values based on a past engagement? All this makes the personalisation of the betting experience altogether more complex.

PERSONALISATION VS TOTAL CONTROL

On the one hand there is a need for greater personalisation of the betting environment and the player journey up until the transaction is made. However, other instances involving highly popular products indicate that players also seek to engage themselves in an

One also needs to understand the psychological journey of the players themselves. A final transaction might look altogether different from what a player initially had in mind and could include events that were not initially considered. Irrespective of situations involving players with a specific wager in mind, or those seeking to browse the content for relevant bets that will fit their preferred betting criteria, players have to interact and engage with the product and content funnel. They also have to make considerations that might impact and shift their decisions. To better understand these dynamics, data analytics is quintessential, particularly when it comes to understanding the various decision points present throughout the player journey leading up to the transaction. It is also vital, when it comes to understanding any points of friction that negatively impact the player engagement or even the player retention itself. Ultimately, it is fair to say that great strides have been made towards the personalisation of the betting environment, where operators can recommend events to a granular detail according to a player’s profile. On a general level, we do ultimately expect to see a stronger emphasis placed on the online experience and how the various content is presented to the end user. And this is where we will see a higher level of personalisation across the sports betting spectrum.


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Rewarding the underdogs Karl Zammit, Head of Trading at PandaScore, discusses the constantly shifting landscapes within esports betting online battle arena) like League of Legends and Dota 2 – you can have the best players in the world but if you don’t draft the champions in your team... well you can still lose, and some games can be lost in the first few minutes. You can compare it to baseball in some ways. They play way too many games and as a ratio, underdogs tend to win a bit more than in some other traditional sports. In esports, there are so many games and tournaments in a day; if a player or team is playing three games in a day, they could very well drop one of them.

CONSTANTLY SHIFTING LANDSCAPES

Underdog wins are part of the thrill of betting. If against all odds, your team manages to take a win against the favoured opponent, it’s not just an upset in its own right – there’s potentially big money to be won too. A common trend that’s been found in esports is that underdog wins are more common when compared to traditional sports. The increased presence of underdog wins means that esports traders need to be highly informed and careful about how they price markets. Across the whole esports spectrum, it’s easier to win as an underdog than in any traditional sport. There are a lot of factors that contribute to underdogs being more successful in esports than in traditional sports.

MENTAL GAP

For PandaScore Head of Trading, Karl Zammit, it’s because esports has a greater reliance on the mental side of competition. In traditional sports, there’s the aspect of physicality: how you’re built and so on. In esports – particularly for MOBAs (multiplayer

There’s also the fact that esports is simply not as established as other sports. The skill level has not been set yet. Being the best hasn’t been set yet. There is still power creep – the bar is always being set higher and higher. Even the best players in the world have their down periods, and what ‘the best’ looks like is constantly changing. There are still lots of changes happening in rosters – even from tournament to tournament – which have impacts inside and outside the game. These roster changes are so important because communication is essential to competitive success. The only sport where communication is arguably more important than in esports is American Football.

WHAT MAKES A FAVOURITE AND AN UNDERDOG ANYWAY?

The fundamental question of what makes a favourite and what makes an underdog is the same one faced in sports and esports. In betting, a big part of it comes down to how big the profile of the team is. In football, the odds for teams like PSG and Manchester City are never really the real odds because of the reputation of the sides. Yes, these clubs have more financial backing and are some of the best teams in

the world on paper, but traders will often give them a bump because they’re the big-name clubs. Everyone expects them to win. The same can be said for the big-name esports organisations, especially in certain titles. Natus Vincere’s Counter-Strike team has been so good for so long, and Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev is one of the best to ever play the game. Even though sometimes they might be going through a rough patch, they’re still going to be favoured in a lot of their matchups.

"Even the best players in the world have their down periods, and what ‘the best’ looks like is constantly changing" In League of Legends, international competitions have historically favoured the Korean and Chinese teams, and that’s reflected quite often in the pricing. While they are still quite often dominant in these settings, we’re now seeing many more upset wins, series victories and competitive parity from teams outside of these two regions. Dota 2 in particular is a game where good drafting is the great leveller between a favourite and an underdog. The International last year, where Team Spirit made a miracle run from the lower bracket all the way to a game five victory over Chinese powerhouse PSG.LGD, is a testament to this.

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INSIDERS CAROLINE PONSETI

Cutting the jargon The gaming industry has become mainstream in the US. Caroline Ponseti, Senior Director at The Herald Group, says we need to start talking like it A year after the state’s expanded gaming verticals went live, Michigan’s iGaming platforms brought in a record $132.4m in gross gaming revenue (GGR) for April, with operators bringing in $163.1m in GGR in the same month. You might have understood that jargon-heavy rundown, but would the average person? How about an investor, journalist or state legislator who isn’t familiar with the intricacies of the gaming industry? The short answer: probably not.We’ve gotten so accustomed to using terms like “omnichannel,” “PASPA” and “offshore” that we haven’t paused to wonder if people understand what the words or acronyms mean. Even the term “gaming” reflects that concern. Why do we still refer to ourselves as the “gaming” industry when the rest of the world associates the word with video games or hunting? We’ve been trying to distance ourselves from preconceived notions about “gambling” for so long that we’ve created an industry-wide identity crisis. This isn’t entirely surprising. The gaming industry was insular for much of its modern history. This contributed to a vernacular dominated by buzzwords, acronyms and technical terms that can be hard for outsiders to understand. We’ve closed the door on calling ourselves anything but “the gaming industry,” but we can change the way we describe ourselves. We’re not the same industry we were years ago, and people don’t view us the same way. Gaming was already becoming mainstream when the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling allowing states to legalise and regulate sports betting put a spotlight on the industry. Suddenly, the mainstream media turned their heads not just to Las Vegas but to Illinois. Retail investors jumped at the forthcoming sports betting windfall. Sports leagues and gaming companies signed deals after years of contentious litigation. Even major banks, such as J.P. Morgan and Fifth Third Bank, are starting to dip a toe in the water. The outside world has joined the conversation — but it might need a translator. The metrics we use for measuring industry performance are the perfect example of the issue. Why do we use an already obscure term

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expanded across the US as rapidly as gaming has in recent years, and it doesn’t look like we’re slowing down any time soon. We’ve even accelerated our evolution by embracing emerging technologies like crypto, NFTs and cashless. But expansion welcomes increased federal and state-level regulatory scrutiny, and new technologies necessitate even more regulator education. There is little wiggle room for confusion in an industry as closely scrutinised as ours.

(“gross gaming revenue”) for most parts of the business, then flip to an entirely different measurement for sports betting with a name (“handle”) that sounds like we’re talking about hardware? What’s more, they’re apples to oranges. When choosing verbiage, clarity should be priority. Have you ever mentioned online gaming to someone who didn’t think you were talking about Xbox or esports? Now what if you instead said online gambling? Instead of using buzzwords, use descriptive phrases: “total amount bet” rather than “handle.” Even spelling out acronyms often doesn’t provide enough clarity. For example, we should explain how casinos adhere to the Federal Government’s identity verification requirements rather than referring to them as “Know Your Customer” or “KYC” without further context. If the gaming industry wants mainstream players to fully understand who we are and what we do, we must communicate using mainstream language. Gaming is one of the country’s most highly regulated industries. The way we operate is by nature very complex. But we’re holding ourselves back when we fall back to industry speak. It’s hard to find another sector that has

"If the gaming industry wants mainstream players to fully understand who we are and what we do, we must communicate using mainstream language"

This is especially important when we’re talking about our industry’s commitment to prevent gambling harm. We champion this as “responsible gaming,” but does this language effectively tell this story when the word “gaming” is unclear to begin with? What’s more, do outside stakeholders believe we take gambling addiction seriously when we refer to it as “problem gambling?” Why not call it what it is: gambling addiction. These are questions we should be working to address. Next time you reach back for a familiar industry term, remember that we’re not just talking to each other anymore. The gaming industry has become mainstream. We need to start talking like it.


RICHARD GALE

INSIDERS

Merging the transatlantic divide XLMedia’s VP of Europe, Richard Gale, discusses some of the lessons US markets, and its operators and affiliates, can learn from Europe as they start to mature What can the US learn from the EU/UK as its markets mature?

Where the US can learn, not just from the UK but the EU too, is the journey the US is going to go on over the next 10 years. I believe the journey will be very similar. I think compliance, long-term relationships and product diversification are all things that will happen in the US market. I think US operators and affiliates need to look at the EU/UK and use the journey as a template. Not just the EU, Australasia is a good template too after going on a very similar path.

"I think we can assume that, in the US, compliance is only going to go one way. US regulations will not be lessened" When looking at how the US will evolve, I always start with compliance. My silly catchphrase is that compliance only goes one way. Sweden seems to be breaking that, actually: they’ve broken my rule by going backward. Aside from Sweden, I think we can assume that in the US compliance is only going to go one way. US regulations will not be lessened, but only toughened as we move forward. I think at the start, compliance wasn’t very high up on the agenda. What we were seeing was some European bookmakers shocked at a lack of compliance happening on affiliate sites, whereas US operators weren’t that bothered. A quick lesson for US operators is to look at what has happened in Ontario. Ontario

has come in straight away and stamped compliance all over the jurisdiction. Everyone in the US has said “hold on a minute, is this the future?” And I think it is for them. It’s been a really quick, easy lesson for North America. What has happened in Ontario very recently constitutes the kind of compliance that is operated within the EU and UK. My feeling is that eventually these compliance laws will trickle through to the US.

What are some other differences between the UK/EU and the US, outside of compliance laws?

At the moment, the whole market in the US is being driven by cost per acquisition (CPA) revenue. Very few affiliates are looking at revenue share; it’s very hard to get a licence. The operators themselves aren’t interested in revenue share, it’s just the land they’re worried about at the moment. But we’ve seen this in the EU as well. As this land grab is completed, then there will be a revenue vacuum for the affiliates. In the EU, we still make a lot of

revenue from revenue share tails that stretch back 7, 8, 9 years. So we still work with the operators to drive their lifetime player value (LPV) and drive their attention, because we’re getting the benefit of the long-tail revenue share. If everyone in the US continues down this CPA route, just look at Pennsylvania as an example. Everyone keeps saying “Pennsylvania is great, another record month, etc.;” affiliates aren’t seeing any of the benefits of that. Operators took all affiliate money from an upfront CPA. I think, as an affiliate, but also from an operator’s standpoint, if we look 10 years down the line these relationships need to become much more symbiotic. At the moment, affiliates are essentially used as an acquisition tool. Relationships need to be symbiotic so that, in 10 years, affiliate sites are working as a retention and reactivation tool for the operators, not just a tool for acquisition. But to do that, the use of revenue share needs to become more widespread. If you imagined Europe to be the US, looking at all the different countries as states, Europe is now saturated. We’re regulated in every market and there are no new markets exploring regulation options. The EU is a very mature market so the acquisition is very hard. How do affiliates carry on making strong money in the EU? It’s because of the revenue share agreements they have. If I get 100,000 players to my site, my job is to continue getting players to be with an operator to extend the LPV for the operator and revenue share for the affiliate. At the moment, the way I see the US operating, there will become a revenue vacuum at some point that will be created by two things: affiliates will stop promoting, because they’ve got their CPA so there’s no point in carrying on. Also the levels and volumes that are being offered at the moment we all know is not sustainable. At some point, it’s got to flip through.

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PRODUCT REVIEWS

WHAT’S NEW IN ONLINE GAMING Given this issue's focus on the land-based sector, Gambling Insider takes a closer look at some of the iGaming's newest products in this section CREEDROOMZ – RICHIE ROULETTE CreedRoomz by BetConstruct presents a new twist on standard roulette with the launch of Richie Roulette. The rules of the exciting game are easy to follow, whereby the player wins if the ball covers the number on which the bet was made. However, in order to attract as many players as possible, it allows a Straight Up bettor to multiply the win by at least 15x-1,700x, by buying up to 10 chances from 49 gold bricks called STARs. These appear after the main betting time. And to further intensify player engagement, the Richie Roulette offers one free STARs chance. The show game features many different betting options and attractive gameplay, as well as a user-friendly interface that is convenient for both beginners and experienced players. CreedRoomz said of the product:

“The new addition of Richie Roulette to CreedRoomz’s diverse gaming portfolio is aimed at contributing to profits of operators

ATMOSFERA – MUSIC WHEEL Atmosfera welcomes everyone to step into the company’s reality via Atmosfera’s newest show game - Music Wheel. Music Wheel is the first fully electronic wheel in the gambling industry playing any kind of animation. With Pin-Up studio-style the wheel itself is a roadside café jukebox that plays six musical genres from classical jazz to modern electronic music.

Players’ impressions are important, so each game round will be accompanied by bonus mechanics allowing the player to multiply winnings several times. The volatility is lower in comparison with the market, which allows players to win more often. The maximum multiplier in a round is x75. Gameplay statistics: numbers dropped in the last 100 rounds with Atmosfera’s new

Music Wheel

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who own live casino businesses. The game provides significant opportunities for revenue growth and long-term success.”

Richie Roulette feature – the display in percentage of the frequency of dropping out of sector. A unique customisation feature was also added for the interface theme: players can create a game for themselves with the ability to choose a theme colour. Atmosfera has also created a mobile version and made it the best for the player’s entertainment. By integrating the description about game rules, how to use them and the bonus mechanics, Atmosfera delivers an excellent experience for all players and makes Music Wheel a reliable and eye-catching product to our partners! Yury Ermantraut, Atmosfera Chief Executive Director, said: “Firstly, it’s totally awesome! Secondly, we’ve made it possible to choose the interface theme – dark or light. We levelled up the ability to create cool studios. To put it simply, I enjoy the result of this product and as usual I am looking forward to starting work on the next one. To be continued!” It is impossible to stay indifferent to Music Wheel. A positive spin will always win!


PRODUCT REVIEWS

EVOLUTION – XXXTREME LIGHTNING ROULETTE Evolution presents the latest in its line of lightning family of live casino games, with the launch of XXXtreme Lightning Roulette. It is an extreme version of the company’s Lightning Roulette that introduces Chain Lightning multipliers and Double Strikes that can increase multipliers up to 2,000x. As with all of the group’s Lightning live casino games, this new version combines live dealer gaming with a high-payout Random Number Generator (RNG) element. What takes this new version to the next stage, however, is that it takes the high-payout potential to extreme new levels. In XXXtreme Lightning Roulette, one-five Lightning Numbers with Lightning Multipliers from 50x up to 500x are generated and struck by lightning, just as they are in Lightning Roulette. XXXtreme’s Chain Lightning effect then comes into action, with additional bet spots hit by lightning – potentially making up to 10 in total. The XXXtreme lightning storm then continues with the potential for Double Strikes, which can increase multipliers up to 2,000x. “The original Lightning Roulette game is

XXXtreme Lightning Roulette the most successful table game in the last 20 years of online gaming and it has already led to a series of Lightning games such as Lightning Dice, Lightning Blackjack and Lightning Baccarat,” said Evolution Chief Product Officer Todd Haushalter. “Now we are giving players exactly what they have been asking for: more and bigger

multipliers. We know there is a subset of players who desire a more volatile roulette game and this is sure to give them the chance for bigger wins.” Haushalter added that the new game takes the entertainment and suspense to new levels in a “beautiful black, red and gold studio setting,” which “glows in anticipation of the dramatic gaming action.”

this, we developed SYNKROS with the industry’s most reliable core infrastructure for dependable real-time data down to the game theme level; funnelled that data into accessible reports and analytics for actionable insights; and supported this with a robust marketing suite for operators to drive incremental revenue through customisable programmes.” Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system empowers operators to capture and compile data through all connected areas of the property.

This provides a broader understanding of unique patron demographics, to reach each individual with relevant communications and offers – to ultimately optimise reinvestment. “Konami has been in the casino systems business since 2001 and today our core technology supports over 400 venues of all sizes and sectors,” said Bertsch. “As one of the industry’s top systems, Konami’s SYNKROS is best known for its reliability, marketing tools and robust data. SYNKROS reaches a wide range of property types – everything from large destination properties, to cruise ships, local casino stops and entire multi-property portfolios.” SYNKROS is also active in driving a variety of cashless and cardless solutions to the casino floor. Konami has been active in these areas for years and its technology has proven successful. “When properties have the tools to reach and connect with players better than competitors, that’s incredibly powerful in any market environment. It drives increased customer satisfaction, helps fulfil promotional objectives, and creates a differentiated guest experience and brand loyalty,” said Bertsch. Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system serves operators in markets around the globe.

SYNKROS KONAMI – SYNKROS More than ever before, casinos are merging data from across brick & mortar and digital environments to capture a total view of patron worth. It is one of the reasons casino management systems continue to grow in importance. “The potential for management systems to drive results is contingent on the accuracy and usability of the data, as well as the system’s available tools to take action,” said Jay Bertsch, Senior Vice President & CCO at Konami Gaming, Inc. “Understanding

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PRAGMATIC PLAY – SPEED BLACKJACK Content provider to the iGaming industry Pragmatic Play has further expanded the capabilities of its live casino portfolio with the introduction of Speed Blackjack. It is filled with features that bring a new twist to the classic casino title, containing side bets, auto-decisions and more to give a fast-paced play session for those looking to enjoy a premium live casino experience. This new variant of blackjack allows for simultaneous decision offers, which reduces game round length by up to 30%. Auto-decisions, meanwhile, can be based on player strategy, including stands or hits, to ensure swift gameplay. Furthermore, the game boasts an improved UI, along with quick seating and expert game hosts to provide an immersive gaming experience. It marks further growth for the company’s new Ruby Studio, which comprises a number of VIP and regular blackjack tables broadcast from its state of the art, purpose-built facility. “Bringing new gaming opportunities to players is at the core of what we aim to do at Pragmatic Play and we’re very pleased to grow the footprint of our catalogue further with the launch of our new product, Speed Blackjack,” said Pragmatic Play Chief Business Development Officer Yossi Barzely. “The performance of our live casino

offering is a great success story and we are keen to capitalise further on the luxury environment it offers.” The group produces up to six new slot titles every month, as well as delivering live casino, virtual sports and bingo games as

part of its multi-product portfolio, which is available through one single API. The expansion comes as Pragmatic Play is ramping up its slot development, with aims to release up to eight new games a month, also increasing live casino, bingo and virtual sports.

WIZARD GAMES – DRAGONS OF THE NORTH MEGAWAYS Wizard Games is set for a fantasy adventure as it returns to the frozen tundra in its latest hit, Dragons of the North Megaways™. The smash hit sequel takes players back 1,500 years to a mystical world of wonder,

excitement and adventure, loaded with thrills, scares and massive rewards. Four ferocious dragons have awoken, with the all-powerful fire dragon leading the assault in this truly epic Megaways™ slot. Dragons of the North Megaways™ is a 117,649-ways-to-win fantasy adventure

slot packed to the brim with features, including the Golden Dragon Egg, which randomly lands and triggers winning spins and features. Above each reel are random cash prizes, Free Spins, Respins and a Destruction symbol that triggers whenever the Dragon Egg lands on the reels, during both base play and Free Spins. A Dragon Bonus is awarded when the Egg lands, igniting huge win potential, while a cash prize can be awarded at any time for wins of up to 1,000x on a single spin. Further riches can be racked up in the Free Spins mode, with players awarded an initial 10 Free Spins. This can be further added to with respins, with more paylines added with each consecutive spin. The Destruction feature removes low-paying symbols, triggering cascades and increasing the win potential further! In certain markets, there’s even the potential to activate the Buy Bonus feature anytime during the base game for 100x a player’s stake. The high volatility hit offers a max win of up to more than 18,000x in this truly fearsome fight. Grab your armour and sword, and prepare for the ultimate battle and incredible rewards in Dragons of the North Megaways™!

Dragons of the North Megaways

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Speed Blackjack



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FINAL WORD Gambling Insider looks at the future of iGaming with BGaming Executive Director Marina Ostrovtsova How do you see the rest of 2022 panning out for BGaming and what are your goals for the year? Since 2020 ,planning has become a vague term. The last two years forced companies to make real-time decisions with almost zero planning. Things changed drastically and dramatically, making it pretty challenging to plan something for more than 2-3 months ahead. The current situation in the world keeps businesses on their toes, leaving no time to relax. It is getting harder to even rely on your previous experience, given that the reality is unique and many market rules no longer work. But at the same time, this tension forces us to look for new opportunities and think outside the box. For now, all the global challenges made BGaming stronger as a team, as a partner and as a company. We planned growth of either quantitative metrics like the number of games and operators in our portfolio, or quantitative ones; like internal processes, hiring new BGamers, approach to content release and customer service. It is worth noting that except for the content itself we decided to focus on some extra things this year: Dealing with data and building processes all around data. We have always been a data-driven studio, and have recently invested into a new high-powered data collection and storage infrastructure. The launch of additional services like jackpots and tournaments, which we expect will make our content even more engaging. Strengthening of client services, since it has become obvious that a client needs more than just a game, but also several extra services like expert advice, help with solving problems, custom analytics, etc. To sum up, we are going through a transformation stage and heading to an added-value approach.

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What does the future of iGaming look like in your eyes? What are the latest technologies to look out for? I think the future of iGaming is already here. We just need to learn how to benefit from it. Let me highlight a couple of trends: the audience is getting younger. Studios need to be flexible to meet the needs of younger players. Take a look at crypto players’

How will online gaming adapt differently across different markets in the coming years? Each year, gambling becomes more accessible and more global. From one side, many factors like internet access, mobile ownership and the growth of emerging markets are driving this global growth. On the other hand, the new market expansion is becoming more complicated due to increased

“From my point of view, the things that truly make a provider stand out are its approach to development and delivery, hiring process, client service and data analysis”

preferences and you’ll see that the classic approach to game development doesn’t work anymore. The new generation of players comes with a solid background in online gaming. They are willing to engage with something they are familiar with, like high-quality UX, availability of multiplayer gaming, dynamic playing and diverse mechanics. NFTs are gaining momentum and those market players who first understand how to integrate it into the business will succeed in the future. Streamers, with their approach to unique content creation, have become a powerful business line that we need to consider. Streaming with shared betting experiences is a huge trend already. The Metaverse, which everyone discusses but none have yet explored thoroughly. Iwon’t predict when it will become a part of our day-to-day life, but gambling has all the chances to contribute to this new reality.

regulation, local market specifics and high market saturation. Established companies are looking for support and new opportunities through partnerships, which become an effective way for businesses to open doors to new markets and adapt there. In the modern business world, few companies can afford to meet challenges alone. What can a supplier do to gain a competitive edge and stand out in the field? In the situation when a player’s expectations rise, constant experiments with new features and mechanics can help you at least draw the player’s attention. Track trends and be agile to respond quickly. From my point of view, the things that truly make a provider stand out are its approach to development and delivery, hiring process, client service, and data analysis. In short, meet your client with a solution!