Gambling Insider Nov/Dec 2022

Page 1

Nov/Dec 2022

THE GOLDEN PATH With Macau still seeking recovery, the Philippines showing huge potential and Singapore embracing the VIP market, who will find the road to success in Asia? ROUNDTABLE Should gambling companies go above and beyond for KYC/AML? THE FORGOTTEN ONES We assess the pitfalls facing all gambling start-ups GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS We look ahead to next year’s London ceremony








EDITOR’S LETTER COO, EDITOR IN CHIEF Julian Perry EDITOR Tim Poole Tim.Poole@gamblinginsider.com STAFF WRITERS Peter Lynch Peter.Lynch@gamblinginsider.com Matthew Nicholson Matthew.Nicholson@gamblinginsider.com JUNIOR STAFF WRITER Louis Thompsett Louis.Thompsett@gamblinginsider.com

T

Julian Perry, COO, Editor in Chief

Tim Poole, Editor

he contrasts between the panel discussions at G2E Asia and G2E Las Vegas could not have been starker this year. While US execs exulted in the staying power and diversity of Vegas, analysts at the Marina Bay Sands mainly debated exactly when Macau can expect a return to pre-pandemic revenue levels. It's a debate that will rage on for some time, with many now suggesting new regulations in Macau – alongside justified restrictions on junket operators – will prevent it from ever reaching its former heights. But that's where Singapore and the Philippines come into the picture, ready to pounce and search for the golden path to the summit of Asian gaming. This is exactly why our November/December issue, which rounds off 2022, will focus mainly on the Asian continent, with our cover feature zoning in on the Philippines (page 32), Singapore (page 36) and Macau (page 40) respectively. Our brilliant Gambling Insider staff writers explore the biggest issues at the heart of these markets, with help from some of each region's most renowned analysts. The Asia theme does not stop there, however, as we hear from Vicky Chan of Asia Pioneer Entertainment (page 52), Mitsuya Fujimoto on Japan (page 69) and several B2B suppliers on the industry's freshest Asia-facing products (page 74). Global Betting & Gaming Consultants provides an Asia focus with its regular Gambling Insider data slot (page 18), while there is global-facing data in our Number Crunching section, also with US contributions from Fantini and sports betting statistics from Altenar. Elsewhere, I'd like to point our readers to page 44, where we focus on some of the industry's 'forgotten' companies, as Ebbe Groes, Earle Hall and more help assess why so many start-ups fail in this industry (or any other, for that matter). The execs tell us, in no uncertain terms, that those who succeed are A) not afraid to put business ahead of friendship and B) have zoned in on exactly what defines their product amid a sea of competing homogeny. In our staple features, the Big Question (page 50) provides both an operator and supplier view on mobile apps, with our Roundtable delving into the ever-present issues of KYC and AML (page 56). Other notable appearances come from Galaxsys CEO Hayk Sargsyan (page 62), AstroPay CCO Sara Rita (page 70) and Paf SVP Sverker Skogberg. Discussing the Finnish licensing process, Skogberg provides an appropriate 'finish' to the magazine in our Final Word section. It's been a busy 2022 – see you all again in 2023. TP, Editor

FEATURED IN THIS ISSUE

LEAD DESIGNER Brendan Morrell DESIGNERS Olesya Adamska, Christian Quiling 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 MANAGER Michael Juqula Michael.Juqula@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0)20 3487 0498 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 Grover Ho Grover.Ho@gamblinginsider.com Tel: +44 (0) 203 435 5628 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Michelle Pugh Michelle@GlobalGamingAwards.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7739 5768 CREDIT MANAGER Rachel Voit WITH THANKS TO: Fantini Research, GBGC, Altenar, Jason Jaramillo, Jason Ader, Lau Kok Keng, Alidad Tash, Changbin Wang, Earle Hall, Chris O’Rourke, Ebbe Groes, Roderick Cassar, Will Whitehead, Vicky Chan, David Zammit, Andrea McGeachin, Tony Petrov, Declan Raines, Hayk Sargsyan, Peter Nolan, Mitsuya Fujimoto, Sara Rita, Roman Garin, Guga Gotsadze, Sverker Skogberg Gambling Insider magazine ISSN 2043-9466 Produced and published by Players Publishing Ltd

LAU KOK KENG

Head, Intellectual Property, Sports and Gaming, Rajah & Tann

CHANGBIN WANG

Professor, Director of The Centre for Gaming and Tourism Studies – Macau

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 28

32

52

JASON JARAMILLO

JASON ADER

VICKY CHAN

ISSUES 12 Facing facts

Gambling Insider takes a close statistical look at financial results from throughout 2022

14 In numbers

A gaming snapshot by Fantini Research, this time looking at data from New Jersey

18 The global outlook

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

20 Taking stock

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

24 Sports betting data

The latest sports betting data, courtesy of supplier Altenar

GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS 26 London Calling

HUDDLE 28 Innovating Fantasy

StatHero CEO and Founder Jason Jaramillo speaks to the GI Huddle about the fantasy sports market

COVER FEATURES 32 Philippines: The uncut pearl Gambling Insider looks at three key markets in Asia, starting with the Philippines

36 Singapore: Age of the VIP We explore the emerging VIP market in Singapore, along with the nation's wider gaming growth

40 Macau: Will it get its mojo back?

Amid regulatory changes and stringent Covid restrictions, can Macau’s casino industry make a speedy recovery?


ENTS 68

70

82

PETER NOLAN

SARA RITA

SVERKER SKOGBERG

FEATURES 44 The forgotten ones

Gambling Insider looks at various examples of start-up businesses within the industry – and why the vast majority of them fail

50 Big Question

What is the next step to enhance the user experience of mobile gambling apps?

52 The pioneers manufacturing Macau

Asia Pioneer Entertainment Holdings' Vicky Chan discusses the growth of the games supplier and its role in the Asian market

56 Roundtable: KYC and AML compliance

Industry experts from VallettaPay, Neosurf, Sumsub and TransUnion discuss the importance of KYC and AML compliance

62 Simple and easy to play Galaxsys CEO Hayk Sargsyan discusses the iGaming industry’s growth in recent years, as well as fast games' popularity in Asia

INSIDERS 68 Peter Nolan Digitain

PRODUCT REVIEWS 74 Asia's latest titles and products

Gambling Insider takes a closer look at some of the newest products and games set for the Asian market

69 Mitsuya Fujimoto

FINAL WORD

70 Sara Rita

82 Sverker Skogberg

Windstorm Media Communications AstroPay

71 Roman Garin OSAI

72 Guga Gotsadze SmartSoft

Paf


Reso

rts

Reso

rts D

FEATURES

NUMBER CRUNCHING

igita

l

Trop ic

ana

FACING FACTS 30

26.4

20

Gambling Insider takes a close look at various financial results throughout the year from across the globe 7.8

10

New Jersey casino gaming revenue per venue for year-to-date ended August 2022 ($ million)

7 3.3

Golden Matrix Group revenue for first nine months of 2021 and 2022 fiscal years ($ million) 0

2021

Revenue

Revenue ($ bn)

Revenue ($ million)

1

30

2022

Gross profit

26.4

20

92.2

100

0.75

7.8

7

69.8

10

75

3.3

66.5

63.9

59.6 50

0

46.4 Revenue

25

0.50 0

Gross profit

Source: Golden Matrix Group • Revenue for the first nine months of the 2022 fiscal year totalled $26.4m for this US-based supplier • This represented a 237% rise from the prior-year period Americas

Europe (excluding UK)

1.9

UK

2.9

Rest of world

US projections ONLINE SPORTS BETTING

100 0.25

RETAIL SPORTS BETTING

Revenue ($ bn)

SPORTSBOOKS AT CASINOS

92.2

15

69.8

75

66.5 59.6

10

46.4

ana Trop ic

l

rts

igita rts D Reso

Reso

sino n Ca Ocea

ah’s Harr

Rock Hard

ctive

ugge t

Gold

5 25

Ceas

ars I ntera

en N

NJ

ars Ceas

Borg ata

Bally ’s

50

Source: New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement • Total casino gaming revenue amounted to $3.12bn • There was a 15% increase from the $2.99bn reported in the prior-year period, with Borgata leading the way for casino revenue by some distance

0 0

2020

2022

2024

2026

Source: BtoBet (US Betting Focus Industry Report) Americasbetting is forecasted Europe (excluding UK • Online sports to reachUK)$14.4bn by 2026, according to the supplier • This dwarfs the other two channels: $1.68bn for sportsbooks at 125casinos by 2026, and $653m for retail sports betting elsewhere 114.2

100.9

98.1

12

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

63.9

100

75

89.1

15

1.9

2.9

Rest of world


15 1 500

10 1 000

FEATURES

NUMBER CRUNCHING

5

570

522

500

Marina Bay Sands casino statistics for six months ended 30 June 2021 and 2022 ($ million) 2021

2 500

2,465

2022

0

France market focus: Groupe Partouche 2020 2024 turnover for Q1-Q32022 2021 and 2022 2021

0

Average number Turnover (€ million) of table games

Average number of games

1,900

2 500

2,465

2022

Average number of slot machines

125

114.2

2 000

100.9

98.1 100

1,900 2 000

2026

89.1

8 000

1 500

6,835

75

1 500

6 000 50

1 000

570

1 000

500

522

570

25 4 000

522

0

500

23.5

23.6

Q1 (Nov - Jan)

Q2 (Feb - Apr)

3,417

Q3 (May - Jul)

2 000

0

Average number of table games

0

Average number of slot machines

Average number of table games

0

Average number of slot machines

2021

Revenue ($ million)

Source: Groupe Partouche 851 703 for the • Turnover was up 79% year-on-year to €288.1m ($287.4m) French operator • Q1 and Q2 turnover increased year-on-year, with Q3 declining Table games win per unit per day

Slot machine win per unit per day

EveryMatrix quarterly sports activity for 2022 so far (€ million)

2022

Q1

Q2

8 000

(€ million)

6,835

8 000

6,835

367

400

6 000 6 000

318 300

3,417

4 000 4 000

3,417 200

2 000

2 000

851 851

703 703 100

0

0

TableTable games winwin games per unit per per dayday per unit

27

Slot Slotmachine machine win win per perunit unitper perday day 0

Source: Las Vegas Sands • The VIP effect: The average number of table games fell but win per table game practically doubled • Slot machine win per unit per day declined year-on-year. But given the sharp rise in the number of slot machines, total revenue win increased. This may also have fallen as VIP players would be more 400interested in table games

367

367

400

318

318

Turnover

Bally

’s GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

Borg

ata

200

GGR

Source: EveryMatrix • Q2 Sports GGR reduced due to heavy odds promotion from EveryMatrix’s biggest client • But this came with record turnover, showing the impact of promotions on operator revenue – something that is particularly evident in the US market generally right now

300

300

24

Ceas

13


ISSUES

FANTINI RESEARCH

IN NUMBERS In partnership with Gambling Insider, Fantini Research provides data from around the US; in this issue, we analyse August revenue figures from New Jersey NEW JERSEY: ALL-SOURCES

AUGUST REVENUE (M)

CHANGE (%) YEAR-ON-YEAR

Bally's AC (BALY)

$20.192

+29.33

Borgata (MGM)

$120.789

+28.44

Resorts

$62.252

+16.88

Ocean

$39.940

+13.87

Hard Rock

$53.908

+2.76

Golden Nugget

$44.515

-2.72

Tropicana (Caesars)

$35.101

-7.81

Harrah's (Caesars)

$25.123

-10.37

Caesars (Caesars

$31.070

-12.09

Total Gaming

$470.686

+10.06

ALL-SOURCES REVENUE: New Jersey’s August revenue falls in line with the year-on-year trend of recent months, where gains have steadily improved in a year less hindered by Covid-19-induced restrictions. Total gaming for August was up 10% year-on-year in New Jersey and MGM Resorts’ Borgata generated the most revenue, reporting $120.8m for August 2022. NEW JERSEY: LEGACY CASINO

AUGUST REVENUE (M)

CHANGE (%) YEAR-ON-YEAR

TABLE HOLD 2022

2021

Borgata (MGM)

$71.972

+38.24

19.7

9.8

Ocean

$36.559

+10.25

17.3

14.6

Bally's AC (BALY)

$15.736

+1.79

14.4

12.8

Resorts

$18.459

+0.19

15.2

11.8

Hard Rock

$45.807

+0.17

13.7

16.3

Harrah's (CZR)

$24.993

-10.50

19.2

15.1

Tropicana (CZR)

$25.855

-10.64

17.1

18.5

Caesars (CZR)

$21.655

-12.72

16.5

15.3

Golden Nugget

$12.941

-18.61

16.2

19.7

Total Legacy Casino

$273.976

+4.41

LEGACY CASINO: Given its significant revenue amount for August, Borgata also took the most of all New Jersey casinos from land-based sources, generating $71.9m for August, up 38% on land-based revenue. Total revenue from land-based sources was up a marginal 4% year-on-year.

14

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM



ISSUES

FANTINI RESEARCH

NEW JERSEY: IGAMING

AUGUST REVENUE (M)

PARTNER

CHANGE (%) YEAR-ON-YEAR

Borgata (MGM)

$41.824

ENT/MGM, Pala

+12.15

Golden Nugget

$31.377

FLTR, GAN, LNW

+5.35

Resorts Digital

$30.743

LNW, FLTR

+42.18

Caesars (CZR)

$8.900

888, LNW

-10.04

Hard Rock

$5.778

Gaming Innovation

-4.12

Tropicana (CZR)

$5.366

BALY

-23.21

Bally's AC (BALY)

$4.528

PBH

+9,663.00

Ocean

$2.922

GAN

+85.07

Poker

$2.207

-9.69

Online casino

$129.232

+16.65

Total iGaming

$131.438

+16.08

IGAMING: Revenue from online sources has also risen marginally year-on-year (8%). The standout operator is Bally’s AC, which has reported an iGaming revenue rise of 9663% on August 2021. This is understandable, given Bally’s iGaming operation was in its infancy in August last year.

NEW JERSEY: SPORTS BETTING

AUGUST REVENUE (M)

OPERATOR

CHANGE (%) YEAR-ON-YEAR

Meadowlands

$33.182

FLTR, PBH

+23.50

Resorts Digital

$12.789

FLTR/DKNG/Kambi

-1.25

Borgata

$6.993

ENT/MGM

+49.24

Tropicana

$3.880

CZR

+80.40

Freehold

$2.739

Greenwood

+209.44

Hard Rock

$2.324

Gaming Innovation

+229.74

Monmouth Park

$1.875

CZR/RSI

-16.55

Caesars

$0.516

Ocean

$0.459

CZR

+36.47

Resorts

$0.260

DKNG

-1.13

Golden Nugget

$0.198

DKNG/CHDN

+150.84

Harrah's

$0.130

LNW

+24.09

Bally's

($ 0.072)

LNW/888

-167.26

Total Sports Betting

$65.272

+25.47

Total Sports Betting Handle

$546.774

-17.74

SPORTS BETTING: Meadowlands took the highest revenue from sports betting in New Jersey this August, generating $33.2m. The sportsbook is operated by FanDuel and is situated on the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The complex plays home to NFL teams the New York Giants and the New York Jets, as well as the Meadowlands Racetrack.

16

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

-19.34

www.FantiniResearch.com

MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR MORNING COFFEE



5,000

4,743 4,441

4,500

4,199

4,793

4,385

120

4,154

4,000

3,282 3,078

3,500

3,886

3,555

100

3,449

3,281

000 NUMBER 2,989 FEATURES2,843 CRUNCHING 3,000

80

2,843 000

2,500

60

GBGC: ASIA FOCUS 2,000

40

1,500 1,000

20

500 0

0

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 the 2019 2021 data expert, 2012 2013 Global Betting & Gaming Consultants (GBGC), global2020 gaming provides exclusive statistical data to Gambling Insider on markets from around Asia; visit www.gbgc.com for more

Macau casino GGY by quarter (Q1 2018 - Q2 2022) (MOP bn) 000 77

80

000 74

000 79

000 74

000 76

000 73

000 71

000 72

70 60 50 40

000 30

30

000 22

000 25

000 24

000 19

20 10

Q1

18

Q2

18

Q3

18

Q4

18

Q1

19

Q2

19

Q3

19

Q4

19

Q1

20

The graph shows Macau casinos' gross gambling yield (GGY) by quarter, in billions of MOP for the period Q1 2018 to Q2 2022. • Due to China's zero covid policy, Macau casino revenues are at their historic lowest point. • Macau had two lockdowns when casinos had to close, first was during

Q2

20

000 8

Q3

20

Q4

20

Q1

21

Q2

5,620 5,415

3,000 5,110

4,500 4,000

4,743

2,500

4,441

2,000

4,793

4,893

4,385

3,078

3,449

3,281

2,989

2,843 000 1,500

1,000

1,500

500

1,000 500

18

80

21

LOTTO SALES (WON BN)

2,500

0

Q4

2012

0

2013

2013

2014

2015

2016

2014

2015

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

000 77

000 74

000 74

000 79

000 76

Q1

22

Q2

22

140 TOTO SALES (WON BN) 120

3,886

3,555

3,282

2,843 000

2,000

21

4,154

3,500 3,000

4,199

Q3

South Korea lotto and 160 toto sales (WON bn) (2012 - 2021)

5,975

6,000

5,000

21

February 2020, and the second in July 2022. • Prior to the pandemic, in Q4 2019, casinos had GGY of MOP 72bn, tumbling down to just MOP 3bn during the first lockdown - a fall of 96%. • The pandemic whipped out MOP 69bn from the operators during the period Q4 2019 - Q2 2020.

3,500

5,500

000 18

000 5

000 3

0

000 19

000 73

000 71

000 72

2017

2018

2016

2019

2020

2017

2021

100 The graph shows sales of lotto and toto games in South Korea, in WON billions, for the period 2012 to 2021. 80 • Lotto sales in South Korea were unaffected by the pandemic in 2020, as figures grew 60 13% year on year. Good results continued into 2021, when sales reached WON 5,975 bn (+10% year on year)40which was an all-time high. • Toto sales had a minor fall of 4% year on 20 year in the pandemic 2020, only to rise 15% year on year in 2021, also reaching an all time high of WON 5,620 0 bn

2018

2019

20202013

B

C

M (J 2021 2014

201


18

35

.5

018

73

54

0

5,975

6,000 5,500

5,110

5,000

4,441

4,500

4,199

140

4,893

4,793

4,743 4,385

120

4,154

4,000

3,886

Singapore3,282casinos3,449gross gambling yield (GGY) and visitation (2014 - 2021) 3,555

3,078

3,500

2,843 000

100

3,281

2,989

3,000

GGY (S$ M)

2,843 000

80

INTERNATIIONAL VISITS (M)

2,500

60

2,000

5,426 000

6,000

1,500

25.0

1,000

0

2012

4,000

5,024 000

4,643 000

5,000

500

15.2

2014 15.1 000

2013

4,575 000

2015

16.4

2016

2017

2018

2019

20

4,566 000

4,635 000

17.4

2020

20.0 0

2021

19.1

18.5

• During the pandemic-hit 2020, casino GGY fell 59% year-on-year, erasing S$2.7 bn from operators, with visitation to Singapore down 86% year-on-year.

40

15.0

• Although visitation was 2016still down 201788% 2014 2015 year-on-year in 2021 - only around 300,000 people entered the country, casino GGY picked up (+8% year on year), meaning there are less players – but they tend to spend more.

2013

3,000 000 25 000 77 2,000

80

000 74

000 79

000 74

000 76

000 73

000 71

50

10.0

2.7

5.0

0.3

0.0

0

2014

40

2016

2015

2018

2017

2019

000 30

30

2020

2021

000 19

20

000 19

GGY (S$ m)

000 18 000 8

000 5

Japan sports betting turnover by0003 sport (JPY bn) (2013 - 2021) Q1

18

Q2

18

Q3

18

Q4

18

Q1

19

Q2

19

Q3

19

Q4

19

Q1

20

Q2

20

Q3

20

Q4

20

Q1

21

Q2

21

Q3

21

Q4

21

Q1

22

Q2

22

BOATS TURNOVER (JPY BN)

3,500

3,000

2,500

2,000

2019 1,500

2020

2021

1,867

2,012

1,000

4,566 500

19.1 2013

2.7

0

2014

2015

2016

2017

2015

201

5,426

4,643

4,57

This graph International shows sportsvisits betting (in JPY bn) by 15.2 (m) turnover15.1 sport for the period 2013 to 2021. • Sports betting in Japan consist of pari-mutuel betting on three racing sports: boats, cycling and motorcycles, with boats taking up the majority of turnover - 69% in 2021. • All three sports recorded excellent results during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. • In 2020, the combined turnover reached JPY 2,746 bn, which was 21% more year on year, with the biggest growth recorded in motorcycle turnover (+28% year on year). • Good results continued into 2021 with total turnover 2013 2014 2015 reaching JPY 3,398 bn, or 24% more year on year, with cycling increasing the most - 29% year on year. 948 995 1042 Boats turnover (JPY • Continuous growth of bn) the industry throughout the pandemic can be attributed to the fact that these three outdoor sports were(JPY not paused, and punters could bet 606 616 631 Cycling turnover bn) online and over the telephone, while pachinko and other entertainment venues had been closed. Motorcycles turnover

MOTORCYCLES TURNOVER (JPY BN) CYCLING TURNOVER (JPY BN)

2014

000 25

000 24

000 22

0

2019

2018

000 72

1,000

60

2,012 000

1,867 000

70

10

FEATURES

160 NUMBER CRUNCHING

5,620 5,415

69

(JPY bn)

0.3 2018

2019

2020

67

16.4

68

2021

Hong Kong Jockey Club horseracing and football betting turnover (HK$ bn) (2013 - 2022) Q1 18

Q2 18

HORSE RACING TURNOVER (HK$ BN) 160

77

Casino GGY (MOP bn)

Q3 18

Q4 18

Q2This 19graph Q3 19 horseracing Q4 19 and Q3 20 Q1 20 betting Q2 20 shows football turnover

Q1 19

FOOTBALL BETTING TURNOVER (HK$ BN)

74

74

79

76

140 120 100 80

2012

60

2019 2 843 Lotto Sales (WON2020 bn) 40

20

Toto Sales (WON bn)

1543

1901

0

2013

660

2014

2015

2 843 2016

750

2013

2015

2016

20213 282 2 989

3 555

3 886

2330

2017

2018

000 25

3 281

3 449

2019

2020

4 441 2021

2022

965 GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

74

95

103 2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

19

Q4 20 22

25.0

20.0

000

2014

3 078

(in HK$ bn) in Hong Kong for the period 2013 to 2022. • In the period 2020, horse30 race betting3was on 73 71 2018 to 72 5 the downturn, recording -4% fall on average a year (it fell 8% in the pandemic 2020 year on year). • However, in the 6,000post 5,426 000pandemic 2021 and 2022, 000and 2% year on racing turnover5,000 picked up,4,643 16%5,024 000rising 4,566 000 4,635 000 4,575 000 17.4 year, respectively. 15.1 16.4 15.2 4,000 19.1a year • Football betting has been rising 15% on average 2017 2018 2019 2020 18.5 2021 in the period 2014 to 2019, and, although it fell 19% 3,000 2,012 000 year on year in2,0002020 due to many football event being 1,867 000 4 154 4 385 4 793 5 415 5 975 cancelled, turnover skyrocketed 51% year on year in post2.7 1,000 0.3 pandemic 2021. 0 Good results continued 2022 when turnover reached an 2021 2018 5 620 2014 2019 2020 2015 20164 893 2017 4 •199 4 743 5into 110 all-time high of HK$114 bn (HK$29 bn more than horse racing turnover).

15.0

10.0

5.0 0.0


FEATURES

NUMBER CRUNCHING

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

OPERATORS

OPERATORS

THE STAR ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

TABCORP

THE STAR ENTERTAINMENT THE STAR ENTERTAINMENT GROUP GROUP

TABCORP

OPERATORS

ERATORS

4 4 THE STAR ENTERTAINMENT GROUP THE STAR ENTERTAINMENT GROUP 3

6

3 AU$

AU$

2

4 2

6

1

3 1

May

June

July

October

October May June October July August September September • Six-month high - 3.13 (May) • Six-month low - 2.56 (Oct) • Market capital - AU$2.50bn (US$1.64bn)

August

BETSSON

SEK

May

0 June2

May July

June August October September August JulySeptember

0 May June October July August August September • Six-month high - 5.34 (May) •Six-month low - 0.905 (June) • Market capital - AU$2.21bn (US$1.45bn)

0 June

July

SEK

100

BETSSON

100

75

75 SEK

40

80 40

100

50

100 50

20

60 20

75

25

75 25

SEK

50 June August JulySeptember August October September

October

0 July

August

May June October July September

August

September

• Six-month high - 69.05 (Aug) • Six-month low - 61.14 (May) • Market capital - SEK9.23bn ($850m)

20

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

KINDRED GROUP

KINDRED GROUP

60 SEK

May July

October

FLUTTER ENTERTAINMENT

60

40 0 June 20

September

October

KINDRED GROUPKINDRED GROUP

BETSSON

80

May

June

May

2

BETSSON

BETSSON

0

May

2 4

SEK

SEK

80

6

0 June August October September August JulySeptember

May July

TABCORP

AU$ 4

4

4

0

ay

TABCORP 6

2

2 0 June 1

0

AU$

AU$

AU$

AU$

TABCORP

October

0 May

25

50 0 June 25

U 2.

1.

May July

June August JulySeptember August October September

Octo 1.

0

0 May

June

July

August

May June October July September

• Six-month high - 96.36 (June) • Six-month low - 84.7 (Oct) • Market capital - SEK18.95bn ($1.74bn)

August

September

Octo 0.

0.



FEATURES

NUMBER CRUNCHING

SUPPLIERS

SUPPLIERS SPORTRADAR

ORTRADAR

IGT

INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY

SPORTRADAR

US$ 15

10

US$

US$

25

25

20

20

15

15

10

10

INTERNATIONAL GAME TEC

SUPPLIERS SUPPLIERS

5

SPORTRADAR

INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY

5

US$ SPORTRADAR

5

US$GAME TECHNOLOGY INTERNATIONAL

15 US$ August 15

0

0 September MayOctober June

July

August

September

May

October

10

0

• Six-month high - 13.06 (May)

ELYS GAME TECHNOLOGY • Six-month low - 8.07 (July)

May

• Market capital - $2.60bn

0 May June

July

June

August

July

August

September

October

August

May

ELYS GAME TECHNOLOGY

8

0.5

July

August

September

0 October

6

6

May

June

July

4

0.0 May

June

July July May August JuneSeptember

August October

September

• Six-month high - 1.52 (May) • Six-month low - - 0.47 (Oct) • Market capital - $12.6m

22

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

October

Oct

October

0 August

May July September June October

August

Sept

2

2 0.0

September

2

8

8

4

0.5

September

August

4

10

10

1.0

August

July

6

12

12

1.5

0.0 June September MayOctober

July

June

US$INSPIRED ENTERTAINMENT US$

2

0.5

June

INSPIRED ENTERTAINMENT

8 INSPIRED ENTERTAINMENTINSPIRED ENTERTAINMENT

6

US$ 2.0

S

10

4

1.5

1.0

0

• MarketUS$ capital - $3.29bn 0 12 May

10

ELYS GAME TECHNOLOGY ELYS GAME TECHNOLOGY

US$ 2.0

5

August

10

10 • Six-month high - 22.46 (May)

US$

July

15

5 (Oct) INSPIRED ENTERTAINMENT • Six-month low - 16.29

September 12October

1.5

1.0

0 August 20 September MayOctober June

July

15

5

US$ 2.0

25 June 20

10

5 E TECHNOLOGY

25

US$

0

0 May

June

July

MayAugust June September July

•Six-month high - 11.32 (June) •Six-month low - 8.58 (July) •Market capital - $246.2m

August October

September

Octo



FEATURES

30

25

20

20

10

15

NUMBER CRUNCHING

SPORTS BETTING DATA: ALTENAR 10

5 0

Europe

Germany

UK

Canada

LatAm

Brazil

MEA

Global Market CAGR% between 2020 - 2027

15 CAGR%

Sportsbook software provider Altenar looks at the global state of the sports 10 betting industry with a glimpse of its statistics, demonstrating the growth and 5 expansion of the international betting landscape, as well as forecasting figures 0 The below table outlines 2022 revenue Sports Casino Poker for each Bingodevice type Otherand sheds insight into how bettors are consuming sports content. Betting

As of 2022, the global sports betting sector has soared to new heights, with traditional betting markets hitting the stratosphere. The below graph represents the current value of the individual markets in US$billions. As we can see, Europe is worth just short of $30bn in annual gross gaming revenue, with the UK accounting for the highest individual market.

30

30

25

30

20

20

15

10

25

30

30

20

20

15

10

Mobile

Desktop

Other US$0.99bn

LatAm

US$2.67bn

US$3.42bn

Germany

US$2.48bn

US$3.17bn

US$0.92bn

Europe

US$11.41bn

US$14.57bn

US$4.25bn

UK

US$3.36bn

US$4.29bn

US$1.24bn

MEA

US$1.94bn

US$2.49bn

US$0.72bn

Canada

US$0.54bn

US$0.68bn

US$0.20bn

Brazil

US$0.75bn

US$0.96bn

US$0.28bn

25

30 10

Region

The graph below demonstrates Altenar’s quarterly increases from 2021 to 2022, spanning its most recent quarters. This shows sports betting's considerable growth in the space of a year, with steady expansion from new users to total stake. Most recently, in quarter 3, Altenar saw a 52% increase in New Users, a 67% increase in Bet Counts and an 89% increase in Total Stakes in comparison to the previous year.

20

20 10

5

15

105

0 Europe 0

Germany

10Europe

UK

Canada

Germany

UK

LatAm Canada

Brazil LatAm

MEA Brazil

MEA

Percentage increase from 2021 to 2022 per quarter

Global Market CAGR% between 2020 - 2027

Percentage increase from 2021 to 2022 per quarter

Global Market CAGR% between 2020 - 2027

5 0

75

0

Sports Betting

Region LatAm Germany

CAGR%

10

5 the below graph shows the projected online gambling market up, 100 CAGR% (compound annual growth rate) of sports betting, casino, poker, 100 10 bingo and other from 2020 to 2027. Bingo is a surprise at around 12%. 0 Europe Germany UK Canada LatAm Brazil75 5 15 Next

CAGR%

CAGR%

15

Sports Casino Betting

Percentage increase from 2021 to 2022 per quarte

Global Market CAGR% between 2020 - 2027

Casino Poker

Poker Bingo

BingoOther Other

5050

15

Region

Mobile

LatAm

US$2.67bn

10

Mobile

US$2.67bn Germany

Desktop

Other

Desktop

Other

US$3.42bn

US$0.99bn

US$2.48bn

US$3.42bn US$3.17bn

US$0.92bn

EuropeUS$2.48bn US$11.41bnUS$3.17bn US$14.57bn US$0.92bn US$4.25bn

5 US$11.41bnUS$3.36bnUS$14.57bn UK US$1.24bn US$4.29bn US$4.25bn

UK

US$2.49bn US$1.24bn US$0.72bn MEA US$3.36bn US$1.94bnUS$4.29bn

0

0

US$0.68bn US$0.72bn US$0.20bn Canada US$1.94bn US$0.54bnUS$2.49bn

0

Canada Brazil

US$0.75bnUS$0.68bn US$0.28bn US$0.54bn US$0.20bn Sports CasinoUS$0.96bn Poker Bingo

Brazil

Betting US$0.75bn

Region 24

US$0.96bn

Mobile

LatAm US$2.67bn GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

100

25

25

US$0.99bn

Europe

MEA

MEA

Other

US$0.28bn

Desktop

Other

US$3.42bn

US$0.99bn

Germany

US$2.48bn

US$3.17bn

US$0.92bn

Europe

US$11.41bn

US$14.57bn

US$4.25bn

UK

US$3.36bn

US$4.29bn

US$1.24bn

MEA

US$1.94bn

US$2.49bn

US$0.72bn

Bet Counts

75 Total Stake

Bet Counts

Q1

New Users

Total Stake

50

Q2

New Users

Q3

25

0

Bet Counts

Total Stake

New



FEATURES

GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LONDON 2023

LONDON CALLING Gambling Insider looks ahead to the sixth Global Gaming Awards London, which will once again be staged at the Hippodrome Casino in February The Global Gaming Awards are never far away, and with the inaugural Global Gaming Awards Asia taking place in August, this has never been truer. After the winners of the Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas were announced in October – at a ceremony hosting hundreds of executives from the industry – the Global Gaming Awards London is next up on the agenda.

26

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

Last year saw the Global Gaming Awards London return to the Hippodrome Casino for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic moved the Awards online, and an even greater turnout is expected for 2023 as gaming operations in Europe continue their recovery to pre-pandemic levels. The Global Gaming Awards London returns for its sixth year in 2023. As the

most prestigious Awards in the gaming industry, they will recognise and reward the strongest performers in Europe and internationally from the previous 12 months. These are the most trusted Awards in the sector and have gained respect among industry heavyweights. As always, the Global Gaming Awards London are powered by Gambling Insider


GLOBAL GAMING AWARDS LONDON 2023

and independently adjudicated by KPMG in the Crown Depencies. The Awards will see companies compete across 15 categories, with all Awards judged an array of objective C-Level judges. • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The categories are: Betting Shop Operator of the Year Online Sports Betting Operator of the Year Retail Supplier of the Year Online Sports Betting Provider of the Year Casino of the Year Online Casino of the Year Casino Supplier of the Year Online Casino Supplier of the Year Casino Product of the Year Payment Solution of the Year Services Provider of the Year Product Launch of the Year Affiliate Programme of the Year

• Social Responsibility of the Year • Executive of the Year All Awards will consider the best-in-class of companies operating in their respective fields, with the top three in each category ranked and the winner bestowed a coveted Global Gaming Awards London trophy. Looking ahead to the Awards, Gambling Insider Editor-in-Chief Julian Perry commented: “I am very excited to welcome everyone back to the Hippodrome Casino for the Global Gaming Awards London in 2023. “With the inaugural Global Gaming Awards Asia completing a hattrick of ceremonies in 2022, it’s great to get back in the swing of things for what I hope is another successful year of growth for everyone operating in Europe and across the globe.

FEATURES

“The Global Gaming Awards London reward the best in each category, as voted for by the industry and judged by a panel of C-level executives. These Awards are the benchmark for success in our industry as they cannot be bought, so each Award is well deserved as it is voted for by industry peers. “We look forward to welcoming the industry to the Global Gaming Awards London in February 2023.” The Awards will be livestreamed across Gambling Insider’s website and social media platforms, including YouTube and LinkedIn. The full Awards Shortlist will be available in January 2023, with the self-nomination window already open. We look forward to meeting everyone at the sixth Global Gaming Awards London in 2023 and wish the very best to all hopefuls. Such is the high standard, nomination alone is a true achievement.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

27


FEATURES

THE HUDDLE

INNOVATING FANTASY StatHero CEO and Founder Jason Jaramillo speaks to the GI Huddle about the fantasy sports betting market, and why StatHero has such a high win rate for players

"I BELIEVE

THE FUTURE

IS BRIGHT

FOR FANTASY

SPORTS

BECAUSE

Tell us about your background and how you ended up founding StatHero? That’s a great question. I normally tell the story about my background, and I definitely have a pro-college sales background, but my passion was always sports and sports betting. Fantasy sports came around in around 2009/2011 when I started; so, that’s where I directed a lot of my attention and noticed that to be happy and truly successful in what you’re doing, you need to be passionate about it – which is what I was with sports betting. Now, I have over 20 years of experience across multiple facets including DFS/sports betting. StatHero started because I saw an issue the marketplace needed to address, and that was the winability of not only sports betting, but also fantasy sports. I found myself, like others, just constantly losing. I craved the action of sports, but felt there needed to be a change, so that’s why StatHero was created.

Can you tell us about the app because the gaming market in general is incredibly competitive, what’s the USP that makes you stand out? Right, yes. Now, there are so many different companies trying to do something or adding a ‘me too’ product out there. Sports betting is all the same product, and we all learned last year that fans are smarter than we think, they are going to take those free plays and keep hopping from site to site – so now all the attention is going to innovation. That is why StatHero is so important for us, to constantly be innovating the world of fantasy sports and making sure that we’re doing something brand new in the space. Fantasy companies will get in trouble if they have those ‘me too’ products or those prop-based products that sportsbooks already have. The reason StatHero is different is because we’re bringing winability back to the marketplace. Not just DFS but sports betting in general,

THE NEED AND

WANT WILL ALWAYS BE THERE"

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

28

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM



FEATURES

THE HUDDLE the whole entire sports gaming space. How we are doing that is through transparency. On our head-to-head products, we release line-ups for players to choose who they want to play against. Usually on a head-to-head product, you have no idea who or what you are playing. But with StatHero, you know that and can choose your opponent. When we released that product, we noticed a big thing; players are winning, and winning 45-60% of the time. I think we are the only platform that can research what players are doing when they are consistently winning, and they are spending 3/5 times more money – which makes sense, right? If I’m consistently winning or I have a shot at winning and I know it is all on me vs games of change, I’m going to invest more of my money. This is because I know I’m going to have more fun and have more of a chance to win. That’s why StatHero is standing out in the way that it is, because players are looking and playing, and they realise "wow, this isn’t a house always wins kind of thing. I’m playing StatHero but I have all the control at my fingertips, and I’m able to sustain my winability."

"PLAYERS WOULD

RATHER PAY A

20% HOSTING FEE

FOR A

60%

CHANCE OF WINNING"

30

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

So, from a business perspective, how do you make more money if your players are winning more? That’s something we get asked all the time. The answer is we take 10% commission more in our hosting fee than any other DFS platform. Players are willing to pay that because of the advantages that we’re giving them. So, we keep the same DFS margin, while giving those players the same advantage. Players would rather pay a 20% hosting fee for a 60% chance of winning, rather than traditional fantasy where they pay 10% and the chances of hitting are less than 15% just to get money back. Is that more comparable to a poker operator than a sportsbook, because in poker it’s a rake? Yeah, but for us it’s definitely a hosting fee. With poker I think you’re taking a rake across the percentage of whatever is in the pot. The 20% we take right from the get-go, but again, the players are winning and not noticing as much because it’s kind of like that ‘lucky’ slot machine, if you keep collecting there’s more excitement there and you’re having fun to put things back into the app. If we’re to talk about DFS and fantasy sports industry wide, how would you describe the landscape of this sector at the moment? I’ll speak as a CEO and Founder of a DFS company. I believe the future is bright for fantasy sports because the need and want will always be there. Take season-long fantasy sports for example, fans are becoming more and more involved, with all kinds of different groups of people now playing. So there is always going to be a want to put your onus on players rather than actual teams. Players are becoming so much more popular because there is so much more control involved; look at the prop and how popular props are getting, especially looking at these prop parlays with sportsbooks. It’s because you know how a player is going to perform and you have confidence in saying, "I know this player, he’s more likely going

to get this, and I have to figure out how well he is going to perform." I think that’s why fantasy sports are going to always be there and why if you innovate people aren’t thinking, "fantasy sports are just like traditional sports and I’m just going to throw my money away." If they realise "holy cow, I have more control over here and it’s based on my skill," then I’m going to continue to play fantasy sports. I think on the sportsbook side, that’s why you see sportsbook companies like FanDuel and DraftKings not really talking about fantasy football anymore because they think sportsbooks are going to bring in revenue. But players are eventually going to get there, and they are already getting there, to say "why do I continue to feed this sportsbook beast, when most experts in the world are hitting 50% on a long-term scale?" That’s why I think that fantasy sports will always be something that’s out there and will continue to grow. You mentioned FanDuel and DraftKings, are you trying to claw market share back from companies like that or are they still the forces they were in the sector, even though they are focusing more on sportsbook right now? A reason why they are okay with only focusing on sportsbooks right now is because when people think of fantasy sports, they think of playing thousands of people, entering your line-up and crossing your fingers, hoping you hit the lottery. We aim to educate the players out there, which have had a bad experience and consistently lost money, those who write-off fantasy sports by saying "I don’t get it." Betting on sports is popular due to how quickly you can get in on the action. I can look at a game, take a side and now I’m in, I’m invested. To give them that same experience with fantasy sports, which StatHero does, we have our PickEm product. Instead of looking at two teams on the sportsbook side of things, you are looking at two sets of players. Now you can pick the team of players who you think is going to beat the other; it is exactly like a sports betting experience, but there’s more skill involved and more chances to win in the long term. So to answer your question on the FanDuel and DraftKings side, I believe that sportsbook will all be their focus now, and on our end that leaves an opportunity for us to say, "hey, you’re having these consistent losing experiences, come play something that you actually have a shot to win." To your point about competing with them and market share, that’s not really our focus; our focus is mainly on player experience. We want to make sure the players have an unbelievable experience – a winning experience. We don’t worry so much about getting an influx of hundreds of thousands of players because our players are spending three or four times more. We don’t need as many players as a FanDuel or DraftKings to hit that revenue target. We want to keep the focus; we don’t want to get too big out the gate where we’re not paying attention to players. That’s the number one importance right now. The full interview with Jason Jaramillo can be found on the Gambling Insider website, in our GI Huddle section.



FEATURES

PHILIPPINES

THE UNCUT PEARL In this issue, Gambling Insider looks at three of Asia’s most prominent gaming markets: the Philippines, Singapore and Macau. Exactly how well positioned is each market heading into 2023? We start in the Philippines... THE STATE OF PLAY It’s 2022 and Asia’s gaming landscape has shifted. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted what had been a well-established status quo: Macau was king. Its generated revenue of over US$29bn for 2019 not only reinforced its status as Asia’s gaming capital but – in terms of revenue at least – topped the gaming world. By contrast, the Las Vegas Strip, a destination etched in western minds as the accepted home of gambling, mustered just $6.6bn for the 2019 fiscal year. The difference was stark. However, as with most industries, Asia’s gaming markets were in disarray when the pandemic struck. Revenue from online sources was a lifeline to operators worldwide. But in Asia, online gaming operations are largely unregulated at best – and outlawed at worst. This is especially true for Macau, where online gambling is illegal. So, in the absence of any online presence, the pandemic toppled Macau from its throne. But as 2022 draws to a close in what is now a post-pandemic era, what next for Macau? And how does it compare to other Asian markets? Its rival markets in the Philippines and Singapore are recovering at pace, while Macau

32

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

interesting. It could well be the Asian market with the most potential. Jason Ader, CEO of 26 Capital Acquisition Corp, has a vested interest in the company that owns the Okada Manila property (more on this later) and expects business to boom in the coming years. He said: “I’m certain the Philippines will become a bigger market and continue to grow over the next five years. I think, in five years, it could double the size it is today.”

Jason Ader continues to struggle with the shackles of state-imposed restrictions on travel – never once hitting the heights of 2019. What’s more, the factor that made Macau so great – its VIP segment – has all but crumbled following the demise of the region’s junket business. This is due to the imposition of new gaming laws, which we'll explore later in this article, as well as a slew of criminal scandals linked to now-former junket bosses. Now, Macau’s VIP business has been swallowed up by Singapore, which has expanded its status as a luxurious gaming destination. But while Singapore has claimed this new status as the VIP location of choice, it is somewhat hamstrung by the tight duopoly of Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands – one set to stand until 2030. The duo forked out a combined SGD$9bn (US$6.3bn) to ensure they remained the two exclusive land-based locations in Singapore. It is in the Philippines where things get

A PAGCOR EVOLUTION? As in any gaming market, the role of the regulator is vital. In the case of the Philippines, regulatory responsibility lies with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR). Its role as a regulator has often made the news of late, having played a significant legal part in Universal Entertainment’s reclamation of the Okada Manila Casino & Resort from Kazuo Okada. You can read more about the story of the casino and the billionaire on page 34. What’s less known, though, is that PAGCOR’s role as an operator is just as – if not more – substantial as its regulatory role. The body operates 38 of the Philippines’ 51 casinos (the Okada Manila isn’t one of them) and is a vital part of the country’s land-based industry. August 2022 saw PAGCOR appoint a new CEO and Chairman when Alejandro Tengco came in to replace Andrea Domingo. And with a new CEO come new issues to address – chiefly for Tengco, a decision. PAGCOR must decide if it is a regulator or an operator – it cannot be both. Tengco was questioned on the matter


PHILIPPINES

investors. The Philippines’ mission, so to speak, would be to market itself to casino investors worldwide. If the Philippines can drive up interest in existing casino locations, the growth potential is exceptional.

by Congressman Rufus Rodriguez at the Philippine House of Representatives’ Congress on Appropriations. Rodriguez asked: “It is a conflict of interest that the same corporation will regulate a business, an operation, wherein they are also operating. In other words, there can be no level playing field. Would you agree it is high time for a bill that would create the casino regulatory authority?” Tengco responded: “I believe we need to distinguish between a regulator and an operator. The best way is for us to study this immediately and come up with a decision on the matter. Even the secretary of finance is encouraging PAGCOR to let go of the operations of the more-or-less 40 casinos they’re operating for us to draw the line on whether we should be either one. A decision may be in favour of, let’s say, privatising the casinos. We will be focusing on regulation. We will be submitting a report on what will be our final decision on the matter.” Tengco’s point of view is telling; should PAGCOR choose the route of regulation, its 38 casinos may become up for grabs as privately operated destinations, or become the property of a newly created government body. Should the path of privatisation be chosen, the Philippines market could become a gold mine, but a lot depends on the interest of

"I’m certain the Philippines will become a bigger market and continue to grow over the next five years. I think it could be double the size it is today" – Jason Ader

FEATURES

have not yet legalised domestic iGaming. A case in point is China. In recent months, POGOs that focus attention on Mainland China have faced heavy criticism, given iGaming’s illegality in the country. So much so that political tensions have surfaced between the Governments of China and the Philippines. Things have boiled over in recent weeks, with it first being reported that China had blacklisted all travel to the Philippines, according to the country’s Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. The Chinese Government had growing concerns over the number of its citizens illegally immigrating to the Philippines to work for POGOs. The issue resulted in mass deportations from the Philippines, an ugly image for both countries. But, in what only created confusion, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said its Government had not blacklisted travel to the Philippines the following day. The issue becomes compounded by PAGCOR’s staunch defence of POGOs. Releasing a statement on the banning of 175 illegal online operators,

THE DRAWBACK The Philippines is not without its issues, though, particularly around its online gaming operations. First of all, the laws surrounding online gaming in the Philippines are quite vague. It is legal for gamblers to bet online, but they cannot do so through a locally based online operator. Philippines iGaming companies must market their services offshore; hence the title Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) is bestowed upon them. An online operator, therefore, must strive for success overseas, but faces the very real problem that several potentially lucrative neighbouring markets

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

33


FEATURES

PHILIPPINES

resulting in 40,000 workers being deported from the Philippines in September 2022, it said: “PAGCOR would like to clarify that the activities of said individuals are not in any way related to legitimate POGOs. The agency emphasises that any individual, group or entity which conducts online gambling without approval to operate from PAGCOR should not be categorised as a POGO.”

Although strictly true, PAGCOR’s statement does little to solve the issue. The regulatory body also appears at odds with the Philippines Senate, which is looking to ban online operators from having a base in the Philippines after Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva submitted a bill to ban all POGOs from operating. It would seem, then, that to maximise growth and better compete with Singapore and Macau,

THE CASINO AND THE BILLIONAIRE It’s the story of the casino and the mogul. Kazuo Okada’s occupation of the Okada Manila rumbled on throughout the summer, after a five-year feud with the casino's managing operator, Universal Entertainment. In late August, though, Okada was finally ousted from the casino he had reclaimed, in what proved a dramatic, oftentimes physical drama. Okada founded Universal Entertainment, the parent company operating the Okada Manila resort & casino, in 2016. Manila’s casino destination is managed by Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment (TRLEI), a subsidiary of Tiger Resorts Asia (TRAL) – itself a subsidiary of Universal Entertainment. In 2017, accusations surfaced that Okada had misappropriated millions of dollars from Okada Holdings – his holdings company. Being a Co-Founder and Chairman could not save Okada from the scorn of his fellow board members, which included his son – Tomohiro Okada. Universal Entertainment’s board passed a vote of no confidence, and Okada was ejected from the company. At the time, Okada said Universal “[acted upon] baseless accusations of a grand conspiracy, perpetrated by detractors who betrayed [his] trust.” He was convinced his ejection was “illegal.” This didn’t stop the Philippines Court of Parañaque from issuing a warrant for Okada’s arrest in connection with three case files. These files alleged that Okada was the

34

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

recipient of over US$3.1m in unauthorised compensation from TRLEI. However, in 2021 Okada was granted a Status Quo Ante Order (SQOA) from the Philippines’ Court of Appeal – a legal document ordering Okada’s reinstatement to Universal Entertainment’s board. Understandably, Universal was reluctant to reinstate Okada, given the claims of embezzlement and fraud against the mogul had not been settled. It seemed Okada could not abide by this, because in April 2022 Okada and a party of associates stormed the Okada Manila, removing existing TRLEI board members and workers from the premises. Universal still owned 99% of the casino, but it no longer had access to it. What was unfolding was a scene of anarchy, although one seemingly within the bounds of the law – a blow for PAGCOR and the legal integrity of the Philippines market. Now, Universal has the Okada Manila back after PAGCOR ordered Okada’s associates to be removed from the casino. The regulator believed the SQAO only applied to Okada, not his associates. Representatives of TRAL posed as casino workers and did what Okada did to them – reclaimed the casino. But per the SQAO, Okada will (or must) remain on the board of Universal and TRLEI. This is until he sees his day in court at least. Having now returned to the Philippines and posted bail, Okada remains defiant as ever.

the Philippines must address its online gambling regulations to both attract investment and grow as a market. It is on the shoulders of PAGCOR that these decisions lie. Of course, PAGCOR must also take action to tackle (or regulate) online gambling locally. The online game e-sabong (online cockfighting) is very popular among Filipino gamers, and PAGCOR must either crack down on unregulated local iGaming or fight the Philippines' lawmakers to regulate it. Regulating online gambling would certainly give the Philippines a competitive edge over Singapore and Macau, where iGaming is outlawed. Ader echoed this argument: “[PAGCOR] needs to become more independent and remove any potential conflicts of interest, so that the regulatory environment is comparable to that of the best markets. Market role models for the Philippines would include places like Las Vegas, Nevada and New Jersey.” Despite issues in the Philippines’ online space, it seems PAGCOR’s restructuring could help remedy these issues, or at least begin to. Besides, the scope for growth in the Philippines’ land-based sector is far less burdened with legal strife, and the country's government knows it. Ader revealed: “I know for a fact the Philippines Government is prioritising growing its hospitality industry. Not just gaming, but lodging and leisure hospitality. I do think US investors will be very interested in what’s happening in the Philippines as they get to understand the market better.” THE FINAL VERDICT The Philippines we see today may be far different from the one we see in five years. It’s a market of potential, with a host of untapped resources and a potential boiling pot of perfect circumstances, which could make it the prime destination for gaming in Asia. Despite its regulatory issues, notably in the online sector, there are no long -term barriers restricting change. Take Singapore, its VIP market has now superseded Macau’s, but its constriction to the duopoly of Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands will hold it back. And if you think the Philippines’ legal and regulatory picture was problematic, its issues pale in significance when compared to Macau. Having to impose Mainland China’s strict zero-Covid policy, the province has struggled to return to the heights of 2019. Although it is slowly improving, the extent of its recovery is immeasurable and unstable in equal measure. As a result, the Philippines is the market with the greatest scope for regulatory change, and has the willingness to drive growth both from a governmental and business standpoint. It will just take time. But, as Ader has said, once investors take heed of the potential of the Philippines, its market will be set for a boom. And the actions of PAGCOR, both in terms of constitutional and regulatory change, may make this growth an actuality far sooner than it otherwise could be.



FEATURES

SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE: AGE OF THE VIP Gambling Insider looks at the Asian nation's high prospects for growth, amid rising VIP revenue The skyline of Singapore is dominated by the sight of one iconic building, one which has featured in countless advertising campaigns, movies, tourist photos and TV shows: Marina Bay Sands. The three towers that hold aloft the boat dominate the mental images one conjures when thinking of the Asian city. However, the building is more than an unofficial symbol for the country itself; it is part of the only two places in the nation where people can go to gamble. Singapore operates a duopoly system; only two licences are approved by the regulator to allow people to gamble, the aforementioned Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa – situated on a beautiful island retreat on the southern tip of the island nation. For a long time, Singapore has been a haven for international banking firms, financial institutions and the richest travellers in the world. Yet, in all that time, its gambling hub wasn’t a significant part of the map. Despite all that it can boast as a nation, Singapore was stricken from the minds of gamblers as a destination because of the pull of Macau. The mighty Chinese gambling hub was king, undisputed, respected, saluted and seen for the wonder it was. VIP customers flocked to the province in droves to empty cash reserves onto gambling tables before flying home – often via Singapore. Then, Covid-19 happened. And the world went into lockdown and the bedroom walls became

36

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

people to live with the virus. No, it was still insisting on a zero-Covid policy. As Singapore opened its (jabbed) arms to the cure and to international travellers once more, Macau looked on and saw its casino customers no longer boarding the connecting flights from Changi Airport to Macau; instead, people were staying in Singapore and discovering what gambling delights the financial hub had to offer. As lockdown after lockdown broke the back of the Chinese gambling hub, Singapore took the business it valued the most, precious VIPs that had accounted for so much of Macau's income. Macau was forced to watch as the money simply halted its pilgrimage to China – and Singapore, with its Covid acceptance policy, welcomed the wealthy.

Lau Kok Keng the new office, cinema, restaurant and casino. Macau – as with almost everywhere else – became a mausoleum. Empty casinos and amenities were left bereft of customers while vaccine experts pushed themselves to deliver the work of five years in nine months. But the promise of a return to normality meant the waiting game would surely bear fruit. So, everybody waited… and waited. Then, as the light of vaccines began to embrace the dawn of a new day, Macau realised something. After eighteen months of needles in arms, the Chinese Government was not following the policy adopted by much of the world in relation to Covid – it wasn’t allowing

RECENT RECOVERY AND INVESTMENT The quick recovery of the VIP market in Singapore was commented on during the Las Vegas Sands Q2 results call – in which Carlo Santarelli, a Deutsche Bank Analyst, asked CEO Rob Goldstein about the ‘75% revenue recovery rate compared to 2018/19 levels, the curtailment of the Chinese market’ and the ‘stability of the VIP rolling chip volume in the market’. Goldstein was bullish in his response, saying: “I think there’s room to run. I think there’s room in there. I mean, we’re putting $1bn into that product. I’ll be very blunt about it. Let’s be clear that Singapore is more desirable than ever as a destination. It’s growing in appeal to a lot of people for


SINGAPORE

a lot of reasons. We referenced the airlift. You referenced China, you’re absolutely right. “Obviously, Macau is not operating at this point. But I think this Singapore business is going to continue to grow because of the region, the city-state of Singapore is very desirable, and more and more people are going to come to us.” The comments made by the Sands CEO reinforce the mindset that has crept into the Singapore gambling market; Macau is out of the picture right now, and the opportunity for Sands and Resort World Sentosa presented itself as a result of the pandemic. Sands, after all, is a reliable source – being the biggest gambling company in the world by market capitalisation. Had Covid never entered the vocabulary of humanity – perhaps the status quo in the Asian market would have been maintained. But as Albert Einstein once said: “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.” A Covid-less world feels like a distant memory now, and from the fog of such global suffering, countless opportunities have been presented. Singapore’s gambling industry has taken notice of the troubles of its dominant competitors and pounced, using the appeal of the wider region to keep VIP customers within the walls of its two finest casinos. DUOPOLY However, the Singapore market has one great detractor which prevents it from becoming the only Asian VIP gambling hub outright; it is restricted by the term that some in the country are trying to fix to take full advantage of the collapse of Macau. That term is duopoly.

Singapore currently only allows two casino licences to operate in the country – which drives huge revenues in Marina Bay Sands and Resort World Sentosa but limits the market in the country. But, according to Lau Kok Keng, Head of Intellectual Property, Sports & Gaming for Rajah & Tann, that is not about to change. When he spoke exclusively to Gambling Insider recently, Lau commented on the happy status quo of the duopoly in Singapore: “The extension of the duopoly was granted in April 2019 in return for investments by the two integrated resorts in non-gaming facilities and tourist attractions; including MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions) facilities, a new luxury hotel accommodation and theme park expansion, amounting to a total of SPD$9bn (US$6.31bn). In line with the increase in non-gaming facilities, the two integrated resorts were also authorised to expand their respective gaming areas and increase the number of gaming machines in their casinos.” The SPD$9bn the two current casinos have invested into wider Singaporean society indicates that evidently neither wants more competition in the market. Quite the opposite; both want to retain it exclusively. This is a point Lau also alluded to in his comments to Gambling Insider: “The initial 10-year duopoly of the two integrated resorts in Singapore – Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa – has been extended until 31 December 2030. During the duopoly period, the Casino Regulatory Authority must ensure there are not more than

FEATURES

two casino licences in force in Singapore and that only one casino shall operate under each of the two licences. The Singapore Government has also clarified that no casinos other than the existing ones will be introduced during the duopoly period.” The significant contribution both casinos made to ensure the country retained a duopoly shows the importance both place on keeping gambling within the pair’s express control. This, too, serves as an indicator of how the country wants to present itself as a destination in Asia. “In reality, Singapore was never likely to be adding any new casinos to the existing two licensed integrated resorts in the foreseeable future anyway," Lau surmised, as he rounded

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

37


FEATURES

SINGAPORE

out his comments on Singapore. The commitment of Sands and Resorts World, then, to investing SPD$9bn into building more non-gaming facilities and tourist attractions here over the next few years would be viewed as a very favourable outcome for Singapore; as it aims to position itself as a leading business and tourist destination in Asia post-pandemic.” VIP FOCUS The evident focus on the VIP market and the wider attraction of the Singapore cityscape will always see the country have a market to rely on – even if the current duopoly stays in place for decades to come – as the current operators clearly wish it to. That is because if Singapore does one thing well, it is luxury. The region is known for its deep focus on the very best of everything. It lacks the brash overt gauche feel of places like Dubai while promoting itself as the most expensive place on the planet; a balance it strikes with contemporary culture and classic taste. Singapore welcomes you; it invites you to see its beauty no matter who you are – but if you have money, it ups the warmth of the embracing hug. In the depths of 2021, with the pandemic still restricting travel across the globe, Singapore’s Gross Gaming Yield (GGY) showed an interesting shift. As the graph on pages 18-19 shows (Gambling Insider's exclusive GBGC data), while only 300,000 people entered

Singapore in the entirety of 2021 – a figure that gains perspective when comparing it to the 19.1 million that visited in 2019 – the Singapore gambling market took in SPD$2.012bn. A marked rise from 2020’s SPD$1.8bn – when 2.7 million people visited the country. So, while significantly fewer people visited the island nation in 2021, the money spent per person represented a massive increase for the duopoly. This, of course, means the VIP market drove Singapore through the doldrums of the pandemic; and now continues to be the engine of Singapore’s gambling market post-pandemic. The 8% pick up in revenue during 2021, compared with the 88% drop in visitation, is not drastic by any means. Though it obviously didn’t mark a recovery, it showed the quick shift in where VIP consumers wanted to be outside of Macau. SINGAPORE'S EVOLUTION Until 2030, the same two operators will be sitting on the island without further competition. That agreement is fixed until then. But what happens when 2028 arrives and some of the other global brands get ideas about the expiring licences? The likes of MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts and Caesars won’t ignore the country forever – and, as the rest of Asia begins to open to the idea of casinos, Singapore will have to adapt to keep its newly found place in the market. The ramifications of allowing other Asian hubs to take parts of the VIP market away in the future could affect other parts of international travel into Singapore, which would have disastrous effects on a market it now counts on for investment in other parts of the nation. For the moment, the upturn in the VIP consumer base using casinos in Singapore, and the effort by the current two casinos to expand operations, will be more than enough for bettors currently flocking to the nation. However, both Sands and Resorts World will be wary of the competition encircling them in the region.

market begins to pull in the masses bereft of a place to gamble. For a start, the Philippines has a broad domestic base over three times larger than Singapore, Malaysia and Macau combined. It also has 51 casino resorts operating currently, with 13 of those privately owned by the likes of Bloomberry and Resorts World. It’s a point that Jason Ader, CEO of 26 Capital Acquisition Corp, made in a recent exclusive chat with Gambling Insider: “Singapore is constrained by the duopoly structure that it has. I think Singapore will remain very healthy, but its growth is limited.” So, while Singapore may be keeping up with the bigger players in the market right now, it probably won’t be there very long. But Ader also noted the strong VIP market, saying: “I think Singapore is doing the best right now with its VIP market. The Philippines I’d say is second best. And then, of course, Macau third.” It is that market that Singapore is banking on; Resorts World and Sands know competing with the likes of the Philippines is a fool’s errand in terms of mass. However, Singapore knows neither Manila nor Macau is the international destination that Singapore is. The Philippines might have the space and the variety of choices that will suit any kind of mass gambling audience – but Singapore has the prestige and, when targeting a VIP audience, this is more than enough to pull in the right clientele.

THREAT FROM THE PHILIPPINES It would be foolish to ignore the wider Asian markets and focus on the troubles of Macau; the rise of Manila can’t be ignored as the Philippine

"Macau is not operating at this point. But I think this Singapore business is going to continue to grow because of the region, the city-state of Singapore is very desirable, and more and more people are going to come to us” – Sands CEO Robert Goldstein 38

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM



FEATURES

MACAU

WILL MACAU GET ITS MAGIC BACK? Amid regulatory changes and strict Covid restrictions, can Macau’s gaming industry make a recovery or not? It’s been a chaotic couple of years for Macau. The region has witnessed many ups and downs in recent times, with Covid-19 restrictions and regulatory changes each having a huge impact on casino efficiency and effectiveness. At the time of writing, the most recent statistics from Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) are not good reading for interested parties (see graph on page 43), with the region reporting MOP$2.96bn (US$370m) in gross gaming revenue for the month of September 2022, a 50% decline from the prior-year period. It follows July’s tally of MOP398m, the lowest monthly tally quite literally since records began (since currently-published records by the city’s authorities, dating back to 2003). GGR for the first nine months of 2022 now

40

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

stands at MOP$31.81bn, a 53% decline from the first nine months of 2021. February’s figure of MOP$7.75bn remains the highest total of 2022 so far, as well as representing the only month in which GGR grew year-on-year. January’s MOP$6.34bn is second, followed by March’s MOP$3.67bn and May’s MOP$3.34bn. Unsurprisingly, tax revenue collected by the Macau Government has also plummeted, with Macau’s Financial Services Bureau reporting a figure of MOP$244.4m for August 2022. The total was down 81% from July, and down 93% from August 2021. Elsewhere, Macau visitor numbers simply highlight the struggles further, with the number of visitors to the region in August falling 19% year-on -year to 331,397, according

to the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). Overnight visitors did, however, increase by 18% year-on-year to 177,640, but the declines were evident again through same-day visitors, which fell 40% to 153,757. When all of these figures are then compared to pre-Covid times, it is unsurprisingly an even more worrying situation. Macau’s monthly GGR continuously


MACAU

surpassed MOP$20bn pre-pandemic, with gaming revenue from the city’s casinos in 2019 exceeding US$29bn for the full year. The figure dwarfed that of its nearest competitor on a global scale, the US$6.6bn in revenue for Las Vegas. But only in May 2021 has Macau broken beyond the MOP$10bn mark. It’s a historic low point for the region, and major operators have certainly been feeling the effects, with MGM China and SJM Holdings reporting revenue declines of 46% and 25% respectively for H1 2022. The latest figures from Global Betting & Gaming Consultants (GBGC), see page 18, provide yet more angst for all groups with invested interests, with Macau casino gross gambling yield (GGY) falling from MOP$77bn in Q1 2018 to just MOP$8bn in Q2 2022. At one point throughout that period, from Q4 2019 to Q2 2020, GGR fell a staggering 96%, with the pandemic wiping out MOP$69bn from operators during that time. Macau’s first lockdown - in February 2020 - was the major reason for such a sharp decline, and while revenues started to recover in subsequent quarters, the July 2022 lockdown saw figures fall once again. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as evident in the latest numbers surrounding market caps. That is the case for the larger companies at least, with Las Vegas Sands (LVS) sitting at the very top of the list of the top 10 global gambling companies by market cap as of mid-September. Its market capital of US$29.53bn saw it rank ahead of the likes of Flutter Entertainment and Evolution Gaming. The company’s fortunes are undoubtedly tied to those of Macau, and despite LVS being confident that a recovery in the region will indeed happen in the near future (more on that later), it remains to be seen whether or not its investors share in that positive outlook.

FEATURES

7.75

8

6.34 6

4

3.67 2.67

3.34

2.96

2.47

2.18

2

0.398 0

January

February

March

April

Another group with strong interests in Macau is MGM Resorts, which boasted a market capital of US$13.11bn, putting it fifth in the list of all gambling companies. Given the situation in Macau, the operator has largely relied on its Las Vegas presence in recent times, but will still have hopes of a Macau recovery to further boost its standing in the industry. At US$7.44bn, Wynn Resorts also squeezes its way into the top 10. But like MGM Resorts, the group finds itself in a perhaps perilous situation amid the growing concerns in Macau. SJM Holdings meanwhile, owner, operator and developer of casinos and integrated entertainment resorts in Macau, had a market cap of HK$21.87bn (US$2.79bn), showing just how huge the market is. Despite these positive signs, it is evident that the overall picture in Macau remains a bleak one for the majority of those with a business interest there, and it’s an issue that will take a lengthy period of time to bounce back from. Macau Polytechnic Institute Professor Changbin Wang told Gambling Insider that the city can indeed recover from the pandemic, but only if the border control is not too tight. He added: “But it will be less likely to recover to the level reached in the

May

June

July

August

September

past two decades due to the crackdown on VIP operators both in mainland China and in Macau.” 2NT8 Limited Managing Director Alidad Tash, meanwhile, offered a two-part answer, noting that any recovery depends on the time horizon. “In terms of gaming revenues, within the next three years? No. By the end of the decade? Possibly,” he stated. “In terms of EBITDA, within the next three years, quite possibly. By the end of the decade? Definitely.” When asked what the future holds for Macau, Tash replied: “Macau will eventually recover, but it’d be devoid of many of its

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

41


FEATURES

MACAU

Alidad Tash colourful expats and outlaw junkets. Sadly, its wild days are in the past.” WHY THE DROP? So why the drop in revenue? Both restrictions amid the pandemic and regulatory changes to Macau’s casino scene have played a huge role. Concerning the former, it is China that shoulders much of this responsibility, with Macau’s neighbour implementing a strict zero-Covid policy, with Macau following in its footsteps. It is in stark contrast to the system that the majority of Europe and North America have adopted, whereby living with Covid-19 is very much the strategy. For the city of Macau, however, and subsequently its casinos, tourism is crucial, and visitors have been prevented from easy entry due to strict testing requirements. Sporadic lockdowns have also been added to the mix to complicate matters further. It came to a climax this summer, with the Macau Government ordering all non-essential businesses to close in mid-July. Unsurprisingly, casinos were not exempt, and, as mentioned, were forced to shut their doors for the first time since February 2020.

42

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

Macau may just be living on the notion that with every cloud comes a silver lining, which in this case could very well be the Silver State in the US. Nevada is thriving right now, despite going through similar restrictions and barriers that Macau has faced in recent times. As of September 2022, the bustling state, which is of course home to the bright lights of Las Vegas, has reported 18 consecutive months of over US$1bn in revenue. The same thing could happen in Vegas’ Asian counterpart if things go well in the coming years. The potential is huge, as shown prior to the pandemic. REGULATIONS AND CONCESSIONS Regulations have been a huge talking point for the gambling industry in recent times, with various bodies tightening their grip on their respective regions, limiting what companies can and cannot do. Macau has not been left out of these changing times. Among many changes for the city, one major rule involves the new minimum revenue threshold for Macau casinos, which has been set at an “easy-to-reach” level in a bid to bring relief to the region. Authorised gaming companies are now required to generate a minimum of MOP$7m per table, and MOP$300,000 per machine. Moreover, as stated by the Macau Government, firms are permitted to operate as many as 6,000 tables and 12,000 machines in total for 2023, in what is the first time authorities have set such formal caps. It seems the Government has its heart set on tightening its control on casino operators. The all-important issue of problem gambling certainly comes into play in this regard if casinos are forced to constantly meet the minimum threshold. But despite all of the new rules and regulations, operator desire to stay in Macau has not once faltered. The Committee for Public Tendering of Concessions for the Operation of Casino Games of Fortune, the body responsible for selecting winners from the public tender process, confirmed in September that all seven bids for Macau’s six gaming concessions had been accepted. It was perhaps a straightforward choice initially, given the fact that all six incumbents - SJM Resorts Limited, Galaxy Casino Company Limited, Wynn Resorts, MGM Grand Paradise Limited, Venetian Macau Limited, and Melco Resorts (Macau) Limited - applied once again. But they have since been joined by GMM Limited, a subsidiary of casino operator Genting Malaysia. The bid came accompanied by Bruno Nunes, a lawyer in Macau, and a representative that confirmed the intention of Genting Group CEO Lim Kok Thay to penetrate the Chinese market.

Changbin Wang It’s now up to the committee to make its decision, with that decision expected before the year has ended. Given the new concessions are expected to begin operating on 1 January 2023, the committee must act fast. For Wang, it is difficult to predict how the new concession renewals will go, but he doesn’t think they will impact the future of Macau much. “What really matters is the policies and attitude to gaming by mainland China and the Macau Government,” he noted. Tash concurred that it will be “quite uneventful,” believing that the current six will carry on, “with Genting ending up only a distraction.” He continued: “I don’t see them willingly taking away anyone else’s licence. And if they were to partner up with one of the big six, it’d be more like a shotgun wedding.” CAN MACAU MAKE A RECOVERY? The concession situation alone shows the willingness of operators to continue in Macau. Genting, for example, is already running casinos in the UK, US, Malaysia and Singapore through its Resorts World brand, but now also wants a slice of the cake in Macau. SJM Holdings, meanwhile, even went as far as taking out a HK$2bn loan from its parent company to afford its new concession licence, proving just how valuable such a licence still is. Macau was handed another boost in late September, with stocks for the six concessionaires surging the most in six months after the announcement from Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng that electronic visas (eVisas) and package tours will be reinstated in November following discussions with China’s central government. It’s certainly a difficult time for the region, but many heavily invested in Macau remain positive that it will indeed make a recovery. How quickly it can make that recovery, however, remains to be seen.



FEATURES

START-UPS

THE FORGOTTEN ONES: TALES FROM THE STARTUP REALM Alongside industry experts, Gambling Insider looks at various examples of start-up businesses within the industry – and why the vast majority of them fail Rudyard Kipling once wrote in his poem, If, ‘if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same’ – a phrase that is true in business and life; because for every success story, there are multitudes more of failure and ruin. As any start-up worker involved in a failed company will attest to, the confidence and bravado of every bullish start-up CEO soon dissipates in the face of financial Armageddon – as those that started the floundering company begin to look for the exit – flames licking at the ankles. The gambling industry is no different. It’s filled with wide-eyed hopefuls who dream of becoming the next bet365 or Entain – only to find themselves consigned to the scrapheap of discarded businessmen & women; wondering why a seemingly unique idea didn’t come to pass the rigorous standards set by the fierce competitiveness of the industry. It’s been reported that over 90% of all gambling start-ups fail – 10% higher than the UK average, which shows that 20% of start-ups fail inside year one, and around 60% fail inside the first three years. This is a fact Ebbe Groes, CEO of EveryMatrix, knows very well. During a recent interview with Gambling Insider, Groes took a moment to process our question before responding: “Your success rate is well below 35% for start-ups – that’s just a fact, it’s nothing special to our industry. I started many years ago and that’s how it is:

most people will fail and you have to embrace it as an entrepreneur.” Almost letting out a smile as he thought further on the question of start-up failure, Groes elaborate: “If you embrace it and say 'I’m truly confident I will succeed, but I’m also able to handle the fact I will fail and I have a plan B... and I’m not going to go broke and lose my wife and children, and sleep on the street and cry all day. If I’m able to do this and compartmentalise my endeavour and accept the fact I will most likely fail, even though in my mindset I think I will be the exception,' then you’re fine.” THE COMPLEX CASE OF FOOTBALL INDEX Arguably the most famous case of a start-up being highly successful before becoming irrelevant in a very short space of time is the extraordinary rise and fall of Football Index. The now all-but-defunct company started with a wave of electronic marketing and famous faces coming on board – including iconic football commentator John Motson – becoming a leading gambling hub for UK players wanting a new way of betting. Football Index offered players a stock market-esque trading system, allowing bettors to buy shares in players throughout world football, which would rise and fall depending on the performances and results achieved on the pitch. It grew at such a rapid pace that Football Index even began sponsoring EFL clubs. Both Nottingham Forest and QPR signed deals with the company on the back of

"As Hall took a moment to structure his answer, he noted there are three sources of failure" Earle Hall 44

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

the success of the betting operator, proudly showing the moniker of Football Index alongside club crests. However, underneath the expensive sponsorship deals and glitzy stars Football Index put forward, a storm was brewing. The structure of the company fast became identifiable as a Ponzi scheme when investors began to question the inner workings of the business. So, on one fateful day in March



FEATURES

START-UPS

2021 – the ravages of the pandemic still causing mayhem – the Gambling Commission finally brought the online operator’s business to a sharp halt by revoking its licence, leaving over £90m ($109m) of player money trapped inside the system. Famously, though, this was after it had already gone into liquidation, also calling the competence of the Gambling Commission itself into question. Although the example of Football Index is somewhat laden with caveats, being that it was operating under suspicious circumstances throughout most of its existence, it still serves as a message to those attempting to set up a business in the gambling industry. The platform gained significant traction very quickly – before going down in the sort of flames that evoke images of the ill-fated Hindenburg. However, the idea of Football Index wasn’t a poor one and had a niche that legitimately interested the public. If it’d been better taken care of, the concept had staying power. However, while the story of Football Index may be unique, the generality of its ephemeral lifespan isn’t. The company failed

Chris O'Rourke (left) Richard Paget (light) 46

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

to correctly keep itself afloat and went out of business because of poor management decisions – a tale as old as trading itself.

wants to buy now, the cost and the amount of money you’ll put into your start-up to wait, to find a niche, or to find a couple of believers and early adopters who’ll buy your product – or IMPACT OF PRODUCT DEFINITION rent it if you’re SAAS based – it will take a fortune However, the reasons why start-ups fail to keep the company alive, not thrive.” are not always strictly down to financial & However, Hall also noted the importance of regulatory shortcomings. When asked by having adequate people in the team and raising Gambling Insider during a recent interview: capital. “Because start-ups grow fast, a start-up ‘Why do start-ups fail?’ Axes CEO Earle Hall reinvents itself every 90 days if it’s doing its job, leaned forward in his chair, the blue of the which means as compared to a company like IGT, Pacific Ocean shining through the windows Scientific Games or Konami where they have of his Californian office, and with a chuckle about 2-6% growth, they will reinvent themselves said: “That’s the easiest question you could every three to five years. A start-up will reinvent ever ask.” itself every 90 days. As Hall took a moment to structure his answer, “So, I’d say after the 50% that’s product he noted there are three sources of failure a start definition, 30% of why they fail is because they -up is most vulnerable to, of which he said the suck at raising capital. And there’s only one way most important was ‘Product Definition’.” to raise capital: that’s get on the aeroplane and The Axes CEO then went into further depth, don’t come back until you have a cheque, that’s explaining his belief: “More often than not, the what I’ve done all my career.” entrepreneur or visionary, or whatever, has a While Hall spoke, he also noted that start-ups dream to build something, but it’s askew on what must have “the courage” to evolve the team. the market wants to buy. When your product “Start-ups kill me because most people say, definition is not tailored to what the market look at my team, they’re all my friends, well



FEATURES

START-UPS

"You almost need the mentality of: 'I’m able to handle the fact I will fail and I have a plan B, and I’m not going to go broke and lose my wife and children, and sleep on the street and cry all day'” – Ebbe Groes Kenwood’s phrase - undeniable. Earle Hall said something similar, telling Gambling Insider he recently informed a new company CEO that met with him: “You can burn $10m to learn this lesson, or you can take the notes and save yourself the money.” Naturally, the gambling industry isn’t unique in the start-up failures that lay dead at the roadside; if anything, it follows the broad trend of every business out there.

Ebbe Groes they’re going to drown you. I’ve done seven start-ups and I feel like I’m 700 years old. I’ve made all the mistakes.” FINDING INITIAL SUCCESS That said, just because a start-up may eventually fall, as Goliath did in his iconic battle with David, it doesn’t mean the whole experience is a struggle. In the case of the recently renamed UK-based company, iGaming Agency – initially called Affili8 – the name change was driven by the vast consultancy tangent the business took in the past two years. IGaming Agency’s moniker shift was down to its consultancy side of the business becoming more prominent the more business the start-up affiliate took in. That success has driven the business on, and it’s now due to break its year two expectation of £500,000 because of the new contracts it has signed with partners across Europe and the US. Speaking to Gambling Insider, iGaming Agency and Affili8 founder Chris O’Rourke commented on why his company has curbed the general trend of start-ups, saying: “It could be that we bucked the trend because we chose a niche, we entered that niche. But we also have had good support from people who knew our

48

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

investors and us.” However, while the affiliate agency is proving to be the exception so far, it still has to survive the next year without falling prey to the pitfalls the vast majority of start-ups, unfortunately, are found guilty of. Things can change quickly in the realm of new businesses, and the newly branded iGaming Agency will be one to watch from the perspective of the industry. It’s a sentiment that Almost Friday Media’s President and COO, Andrew Kenwood, summed up perfectly while speaking to Gaming America: “A lot of start-ups fail; that’s the nature of any venture business,” he explained – in total agreement with both Groes and Hall. However, Kenwood then took a moment and reflected: “I think, in the gaming space, there are so many product-driven companies that are pre-revenue, they are launching with the hope of amassing some critical audience for their platform, their technology, and it is just wildly competitive. Until you reach that tipping point, you’re so reliant on investor funds to carry you there – you’ve got to have something undeniable.” It’s a point that remarks on the fate of many firms trying to break into the gambling industry; either a tipping point is reached, and the revenue runs dry - or the product on offer isn’t - to coin

IN THE END The truth of the matter is that every start-up begins with a mission to change the industry – gambling, gaming or not. Most know the immutable truth of failure will engulf the business within the first three years – as those that survive longer continue to wrestle against the tide of brutal trials any business must go through to become stable. There is no gaming element to that challenge either; no second lives to activate once a business has fallen into the abyss. For all the tips and thoughts willingly offered by CEOs and Founders on why start-ups fail, in reality, the reasons are infinite. Inexperience, financial gambling, too much restraint, too little restraint, incorrect product definition, the wrong idea, the right idea at the wrong time; anything can be a catalyst for seeing a start-up go bust – while the path to success remains shrouded in mystery. The facts are the facts, statistics don’t lie – failure is a near-certainty in life, successes are few and far between – the median age for a CEO that founds a successful start-up business is 45, according to Harvard University research. This means all the bright-eyed people at 20 with a dream inevitably have to fail a few times to succeed. And that’s the real test; for most, success is dependent on failure, a trial many never make it past.



FEATURES

BIG QUESTION

What is the next step to enhance the user experience of mobile gambling apps? Roderick Cassar, Head of Product Development – Mobile Apps, Betsson Group

Roderick Cassar Apps are becoming more popular as more companies offer services on mobile devices. Whether betting on sports or playing casino games, most players today prefer mobile apps, for several reasons. Some mobile apps become such a part of people’s lives that we find difficulty in imagining a life without them – think of Facebook, Spotify or Instagram. The same applies to app features – some of which are nowadays expected by users. That is why we are seeing mobile gambling apps that feature fast live streaming and mobile-friendly UIs, which give players an improved betting experience; thus potentially increasing the user’s time on the app. With attention spans shrinking, mobile apps enhance and sustain player engagement by reducing the likelihood players will become distracted and close an open browser tab unintentionally, as often happens with mobile browser versions. Mobile accessibility is an expectation these days. Online betting is becoming increasingly popular, as mobile apps allow players to place bets quickly and safely

50

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

from anywhere with just a few taps. Offering a mobile gambling experience is much more convenient for the player. Mobile devices are at arm’s length at all times of the day. A reliable internet connection is all they need to be able to play a round of slot games, or bet on one of their favourite teams. In some regions, where mobile data is still relatively expensive, it is actually a better option as an app uses less data than a website. Less is more! The challenge of offering a mobile app is to offer an optimal UI on a small mobile screen. Players require a seamless navigation interface throughout the entire betting journey, so it is crucial to offer mobile apps that give them a high-quality visual design that is stable, convenient and consistent. Mobile offers a more secure environment. Security features and end-to-end encryption are built into these apps. Neither the financials nor data of the bettors are at risk from hackers accessing their personal details. Two-factor authentication is available to platform app users. Regardless of the player’s password, they cannot log in without their fingerprint or FaceID. For a gambling app to get its full potential, one would need to optimise the keywords within the app store, similar to how a website needs SEO optimisation to improve the SERP. This leads to higher downloads. Once we manage to get a user to download the app, the app would need to be able to offer an easy and fast onboarding process. Mobile offers more innovative features to make this process easier, faster and more secure, thus helping in making the account verification even smoother. What is next?

Making an easy deposit process, easy gaming experience and optimal user experience will make the user come back again. What makes an optimal user experience? Personalisation. As time goes by, we’re seeing more and more use of data to offer users a fully personalised experience according to their behaviours, preferences, needs, etc. It’s key that we have the right tools in place so that from the very first time a user makes use of the app, we start learning about what their preferences are, as that will allow us to start offering an optimised and personalised experience, helping them find what they are after more easily. The app will be able to differentiate content between players, using data and machine learning technologies, leveraging the app’s tailor-made experience to the end user. The use of social media for social gaming within betting apps may boost in-app engagement and result in faster user acquisition. There is also another social element that may be leveraged: the idea of betting together socially and thus sharing joy. The penetration of peer–to–peer gambling apps is increasing and apps like those designed to simulate fantasy sports league play are more popular than ever. They are similar in both concept and execution to “private sportsbooks” that offer the same betting events available through traditional bookmakers, but are limited to a few players. It is no wonder the best social betting apps merge the features of a conventional social network with that of a modern betting app. We cannot talk about mobile gambling apps without mentioning mobile in-app messaging,


BIG QUESTION

which is an excellent method for reaching and engaging customers while they are using your app. There are many reasons why and cases where sending such a message can be justified. An in-app message is a unified message sent to all your app’s users at once. It works like an email inbox and lets you send an exclusive offer to re-engage with your users, such as a free extra bet. Live betting takes everything to the next level, as players can place bets even when they are physically watching a live game. The app can be intelligent enough to know the location of the user, knowing that the player is more likely to place a bet on that respective game. This takes us back to personalisation – the app will offer that

FEATURES

match on the app’s lobby, making it extremely easy for the player to find it. The deposit process together with the bet placement should also be as easy and as fast as possible, as apart from it being a default expectation, we are now in a live environment and things can change extremely fast. The user would rather spend time watching the match unfolding in front of them instead of searching for the right section/button on the app. As we have highlighted here, mobile apps offer a lot more to the players than a website does. When mobile features and abilities are applied wisely, the gambling app will offer optimal experience, increasing active users as well as their respective lifetime value.

Will Whitehead, Commercial Director, mkodo - A Pollard Banknote company

Will Whitehead User Experience (UX) is a commonly used term in the iGaming industry. It’s about putting your users first, and making their experience with your products as smooth and seamless as possible. It’s about finding the most efficient and effective ways of directing players to the objective, whether it’s registering, playing a game, placing a bet or making a deposit. To provide the best UX, iGaming operators should truly listen to what their users want and how they want to engage. From mkodo’s 20+ years' experience in frontend development, we can attest to the fact player experience is more important than ever. And with changing consumer behaviours focused on convenience and a more educated view on what makes a good UX, iGaming operators need to be at the top of their game when it comes to marrying digital and retail to offer an outstanding UX. Without a doubt, one of the best ways to provide your players with a superior UX is to build a native app. In several recent reports on mobile phone usage, native apps account for roughly 90% of smartphone usage, which isn’t surprising since they adhere to the guidelines that ultimately enhance and align UX with the specific operating system (iOS / Android). Adhering to specific guidelines allows users

to interact with your app through actions they’re already familiar with. This improved journey allows players to better understand your app (for example navigating to favourite games or winning numbers). If you intend to use your app as one of the central tools for interacting with your players, then without question, you must deliver an excellent UX that supports mobile app retention. Even the slightest frustrations can lead to poor retention rates and increased uninstall rates. and this is where non-native apps simply cannot compete. An enhanced UX doesn’t start and end with native apps, though. 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. Looking to the future, the demand for convenience is key and innovative products that provide a better UX stand 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. With continually changing consumer behaviours, the ultimate player experience is a lot about tailoring your offering. It’s a case of different experiences for different jurisdictions and different regulations. Don’t just focus on good game content and sportsbook data/ odds/markets. Focus on the UX and the UI, and the experience around the gameplay. Remove barriers to key user journeys including registration, login, deposit, gameplay, placing of bets and claiming winnings while still respecting responsible gaming guidelines. Not only that, but it’s also important to differentiate your UX offerings among various user groups to stand out from the crowd, such as VIPs versus novices, heavy vs casual, older generation versus newer generation and targeting specific verticals. For example, one app could cater to the VIP player who is less invested in the front-end experience, and just wants the best odds and great performance. Another app would be for the casual player who wants to have fun with the most popular sports and events easily available. Tailoring your digital iGaming product offering and personalising it based on user groups and locations is a sure-fire way to improve UX for iGaming customers. As operators 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 players' needs wherever they are.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

51


FEATURES

APE

THE PIONEERS MANUFACTURING MACAU Asia Pioneer Entertainment Holdings (APE) Assistant General Manager of Corporate Sales & Marketing, Vicky Chan, discusses the growth of the games supplier, its role in the Asian market and how it grappled with the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic In Gambling Insider’s Asia-focused issue, we speak to APE Assistant General Manager of Corporate Sales & Marketing, Vicky Chan, who discusses the origins of one of Macau’s biggest casino game manufacturers and the services it provides to Southeast Asia. Chan speaks about the struggles APE faced during the Covid pandemic, which hit Macau particularly hard over an extended period. It is only recently that Macau, alongside other Southeast Asian markets, has begun to open its doors once more. This gives a boost to APE, who can once again begin to supply the latest electronic table games, and resume servicing devices across the markets in which it operates. Looking forward, Chan discusses how the company must react to new requirements on slot machines, ahead of the impending renewal of Macau’s casino licences at the start of 2023. What are the origins of APE; how did you start? APE was established in 2006 in Macau and was listed on the Growth Enterprise Market of Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2017, (Stock Code: 8400.HK). We are an approved

the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China), selling various Macau sourced products to consumers and travelers (the Smart VM Business).

gaming machine agent licensed by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of Macau (DICJ). APE is a supplier of Electronic Gaming equipment (EGEs) to casinos in Macau and Asia, representing products from Slovenia, the US, Taiwan and Australia. Our services include the technical sales and distribution of EGEs, machine refurbishment, parts repairing and consultancy, and technical service. In 1999, Macau started to open up the gaming licences. One of the founders of APE, who is our current CEO Herman Ng, took the lead in introducing Japanese gaming equipment to Macau. Since then, we have successively introduced high-quality gaming products from all over the world that are suitable for Macau. In 2020, APE started its new business as an operator of smart vending machines in Macau and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) of

" Extensive expansion in Southeast Asia and setting up offices for local support will be our long-term goals in the next two years" 52

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

How many markets do you supply your products to? APE is one of the largest EGE and Electronic Table Games (ETG) distributors in Macau. APE has strong local knowledge and over 16 years’ experience in the EGE market; around 85% of our whole revenue is from the Macau market. In recent years, the gaming industry in the Southeast Asian (SEA) country has rapidly grown. In light of these developments, APE also expanded its footprint in other SEA countries, such as the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam, through our EGE distribution and other services. In the future, in addition to focusing on Macau’s local market, APE will also vigorously develop in other emerging overseas markets, such as Singapore, Thailand and South Korea to seek out more opportunities. As a Macau-based company, how has business been affected throughout the pandemic? How have you reacted to these unprecedented times? The pandemic dealt a huge blow to our company. Our plan when we listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2017 was a massive expansion in Southeast Asia. We started rolling out to these markets in 2018 and 2019 by partnering with some casinos and agents, and our manufacturers even planned their roadmap for new product launches in 2020 through to 2022. But then when the pandemic started, most



FEATURES

APE

“I expect the market will return to normal within two years, during which time we will keep pace with the times to offer different products and services” - Vicky Chan

countries locked down in early 2020. With the recent resumption of normal exchanges and the opening of travel restrictions in many countries, it is time to introduce our products and services to these markets again. Although the seven-day hotel quarantine policy in Macau is still one of our big challenges, we would not give up on seeking out more opportunities. Our trip to G2E Asia in Singapore was very fruitful and we attended G2E Vegas to find potential partners, to strengthen our business in Macau and our expansion in Southeast Asia. How do you see Macau’s market developing going forward? Do you think it will recover and you can experience the levels you reached pre-pandemic? While the Government has announced new requirements on slot machines following the renewal of casino licences, new brands without any help in this market will have a harder time entering. With our expertise and trailblazing spirit, we believe we still maintain a firm foothold within this market. I expect the market will return to normal within two years, during which time we will keep pace with the times to offer different products and services. We also welcome any manufacturers who wish to cooperate with us when entering Macau or any other Southeast Asian markets. What are APE’s plans for the future? What is the short-term plan over 18-24 months, and the long-term goals for the next 5 years? APE has always been rooted in Macau, with our reach extending to Southeast Asia. Extensive expansion in Southeast Asia and setting up offices for local support will be our long-term goals in the next two years.

54

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

Vicky Chan



FEATURES

ROUNDTABLE

ROUNDTABLE: KYC AND AML COMPLIANCE Industry experts from VallettaPay, Neosurf, Sumsub and TransUnion discuss the importance and challenges of KYC and AML compliance

Andrea McGeachin Neosurf CEO

DAVID ZAMMIT VallettaPay CEO

David Zammit, a certified accountant by profession, is the Co-Founder and CEO of VallettaPay. Under his leadership and supervision, VallettaPay has become an established and well-respected financial institution within the payments world. David’s vast experience in the financial services industry and his renowned international network are key attributes that allow VallettaPay to offer an efficient and cost-effective service.

56

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

Declan Raines TransUnion Head of US Gaming

Tony Petrov Sumsub Chief Legal Officer

Andrea McGeachin has been working at a senior level in the gambling sector since 2007. She heads up the Neosurf Commercial team, which since 2016 has grown exponentially. She has helped fill the gap from the Ukash loss, as well as supporting a drive to use smarter services for clients through a strong APM solution. She was recently promoted to CEO.

Tony Petrov was appointed Chief Legal Officer at Sumsub in 2018. He is an experienced blockchain and fintech attorney with a focus on AML and KYC compliance, data privacy and international regulator relations. Tony holds a master’s degree in Transnational Business Law from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. He also studied IT Law at the University of California, Berkeley. A certified CySEC AML Compliance Officer, Tony is the author and host of the “Sumsub for experts” YouTube channel.

Declan Raines is responsible for the strategic planning of TransUnion’s US Gaming business. TransUnion has serviced the global gaming industry, including the well-established UK market, for over 12 years.


ROUNDTABLE

FEATURES

TONY PETROV: DECLAN RAINES:

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WITHIN KYC AND AML?

DAVID ZAMMIT:

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

57


FEATURES

ROUNDTABLE

TONY PETROV:

DAVID ZAMMIT:

DO COMPANIES REALISE JUST HOW IMPORTANT KYC AND AML ARE?

DECLAN RAINES:

58

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM



FEATURES

ROUNDTABLE

TONY PETROV:

IS COMPLYING ENOUGH, OR CAN GAMING COMPANIES GO BEYOND?

60

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM


ROUNDTABLE

FEATURES

DAVID ZAMMIT: TONY PETROV:

HOW DO REGULATIONS DIFFER ACROSS DIFFERENT REGIONS WHEN IT COMES TO AML – FOR EXAMPLE IN EUROPE, ASIA OR NORTH AMERICA? ANDREA DECLAN RAINES:

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

61


FEATURES

HAYK SARGSYAN

SIMPLE AND EASY TO PLAY Galaxsys CEO Hayk Sargsyan discusses the iGaming industry’s growth in recent years, the popularity of fast games in Asia and much more

How has the iGaming industry changed over the last couple of years? During the last several years, the iGaming industry has been developing rapidly, especially after the Covid-19 outbreak, and there are several reasons for that. The iGaming industry provides stimulation and excitement, and as millions of people around the globe started to look for different ways to make their leisure more enjoyable, our industry is reaching its peak. During these times, some people began showing interest in social gaming, whereas a considerable amount of potential users preferred to get engaged in iGaming.

“We have one global goal on the horizon: to be among the top three providers of fast games by the end of 2023” Besides, since more and more land-based casinos got quieter during the pandemic, a great flow of people who were not previously involved in online gaming made

62

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

Hayk Sargsyan


HAYK SARGSYAN

“Business-wise, it is true that the profitability of skill games cannot be compared to fast games, but the value they bring can often exceed that of fast games”

their first step into the industry, got used to it and stayed here. It is also worth noting that, nowadays, thanks to the accelerating number of smartphones and better Wi-Fi quality in most parts of the world, it has become easier and more efficient to get more people interested in the industry. What new updates are there regarding Galaxsys? Galaxsys’ growth is expeditious. Our introductory event to the gaming industry was in April when we exhibited at ICE London 2022. Only a few months later, we already have dozens of signed contracts, crucial integrations, industry-known partners and five more significant events behind us. To cope with these rapid developments, we are introducing a new team structure that will enable us to create new engaging games and take them to the “live” stage faster. As a result, two innovative games have already been introduced to the industry: Cash Show, a game that connects fashion to iGaming, and Hexagon, a board game that has never been developed as a betting game. In the near future, we plan to introduce many new games, which will be innovative for the whole market. What are the most important factors to consider when developing a successful game? Simple and easy to play: These are the key factors contributing to our games’ success. Galaxsys’ game portfolio offers a wide range (15+) of fast and skill games. The games have been developed to allow our partners to improve both player acquisition and retention, and generate profitable growth. Our games

are user-friendly, easy to understand and simple to play. How popular are fast games in Asia, and are they more or less popular in other markets? In August 2022, Galaxsys debuted at the G2E Asia Expo held in Singapore. That was when we officially introduced ourselves to the Asian market for the first time. The outcomes of the event exceeded our expectations in many ways. As a result, we have acquired new agreements during the expo, which, in my belief, will turn into reliable and fruitful partnerships. Undoubtedly, our crash-type games have significantly more demand in all markets. Taking that into consideration, we have developed three crash-type games in our portfolio. The first is Crash, a high-speed game for fans of risk versus reward, in which players can choose to cash out early and have a small return – or “play the market” and hope for a higher return before the crash occurs. The second is our branded game Rocketon, which has very realistic animations and is exciting to play. The players make their bets before the rocket rises and hope to make a cash-out before the rocket flies far away. And the third one is Cash Show, which has been developed as a result of cooperation with Fashion TV Gaming Group. The game’s unique feature is that it is the first-ever Luxury Fashion fast game and features real-life models. Popular games such as blackjack and sic bo are also in great demand in the Asian market. But how popular are skill games? Skill games are a must-have for any operator and help to increase brand awareness further.

FEATURES

Business-wise, it is true that the profitability of Skill games cannot be compared to fast games, but the value they bring can often exceed that of fast games. That is because skill games require more time to play; thus, they extend the player’s involvement and engagement in the website, and increase the company’s brand loyalty. When developing skill games, we take into account the demographics and cultural peculiarities. Generally, countries with an ancient history that play board games as a part of daily activities are the target markets for such games. Worldwide, the number of skill games players is increasing.

"Since more and more land-based casinos got quieter during the pandemic, a great flow of people who were not previously involved in online gaming made their first step into the industry" Are there any new markets that Galaxsys wants to enter in the near future? We are currently in an active certification and licensing phase. Now, we are actively engaged in the process of getting into the Greek, Italian and Croatian markets. Generally, Galaxsys’ licensing policy is quite flexible. Even though we generally try to develop global solutions with our games, we make all necessary localisations to make them easier to integrate. Meanwhile, we translate the games into any language and integrate that specific country’s currency in a short time. Moreover, we always respond quickly to the requirements of any new partnership and are eager to acquire licensing in any market that is of mutual interest. What are Galaxsys’ goals for the rest of 2022 and going into 2023? We have one global goal on the horizon: to be among the top three providers of fast games by the end of 2023. Given the fact that we already have our professional team and Galaxsys has already been moving towards the aim, I believe it is not a dream but a goal we will achieve.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

63




THE INSIDERS In every issue, Gambling Insider commissions guest columns 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

68 PETER NOLAN DIGITAIN

70

69 MITSUYA FUJIMOTO WINDSTORM MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS

SARA RITA ASTROPAY

71 72 GUGA GOTSADZE SMARTSOFT

66

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

ROMAN GARIN OSAI



INSIDERS PETER NOLAN

A different approach to the Americas Digitain Group R&D Director Peter Nolan speaks to Gambling Insider about the company’s future in the US, the LatAm market and Luís Figo playing football on an Armenian roof people, with algorithms – we’ve upgraded that recently so it’s ready for the World Cup. Also, we launched our online casino studio in the last few months and have signed up over 50 partners on the live casino. That’s a completely new studio built in our Digitain headquarters, which is a state-of-the-art building housing over 2,000 people now. We’re also building another studio so we can offer some more bespoke services to clients.

In terms of sports betting, how interested are you in the US market right now?

Where is Digitain right now in the market and where does it want to be?

It’s in a good state. We’ve just come out of a good conference. We’re looking to expand our global footprint in regulated markets; that’s our target. We’re building sales teams in Latin America and Asia to help support that, and the general sales team has doubled in the region in the last 18 months. We’ve got some good products; in particular, we launched the new platform called Centrivo in the summer and it has had a big impact – so we’re in good shape platform wise. It’s got some really good verticals, support and a lot of tools for the operators: like CRM and an integrated payment gateway, content management system, etc. We bumped up the tools and the whole stability and flexibility of it, where people can quickly change the website and mobile sites to suit their brand. That has been successful so far.

What about the core products?

We upgraded our sportsbook, which is our hero product. Digitain started out in this industry with shops in Armenia and a sports betting B2C. Sports betting was our original business, so we have a large team of traders and risk management

68

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

It's on our radar at some point in the future. There are certainly plenty of opportunities there as the various new regulated markets open up. Right now, we have plenty to do, plenty on and are focused on Central European, LatAm and Asian markets. Looking at it, there’s a fight going on in the US, people spending a lot of money in terms of operations, while most people are cutting down on that to save money. However, we're confident we will achieve growth there over time.

So LatAm is a bigger focus for you in the near future, then?

Yeah, but we want to go into the regulated markets, too. I worked in Brazil for a couple of years, so I know it quite well. We have a couple of good people that work there for us, who

are talking to the regulators a lot in Brazil and Argentina. We want to get our products certified for these areas; that’s our aim. However, right now, we’re focused on getting more visibility.

In terms of visibility, it must be great for the brand to have Luís Figo as an ambassador, which Gambling Insider exclusively revealed back in July.

Yes, that’s a big statement for us and our B2B suppliers, as well. Obviously, you get a lot of B2C people with advocates and footballers. So, for our B2B supplier to get him was a big statement. It’s a bit like our show at ICE London: every year it’s a bit bigger, a bit better and represents the confidence we have in the business.

Is that the plan for 2023 as well, to grow the visibility at shows like ICE?

Well, we’re going to be there at ICE with Figo; I think that’s part of the plan. We wanted to get somebody with the international reputation and recognition, so he covers a lot of bases. He actually came and played on the roof of our building in Armenia in 40-degree heat! By the end he was gasping for a drink afterwards, while everybody was asking for selfies – but it’s nice to do things for the team like that. The company is very proud to be Armenian, and so to have him come out and see everybody was great.

"It's on our radar at some point in the future. There are certainly plenty of opportunities there as the various new regulated markets open up"


MITSUYA FUJIMOTO

INSIDERS

Tapping into Japan's culture Mitsuya Fujimoto, Media Expert at Windstorm Media Communications, explains how to approach Japan’s unique consumers in a grey, compliance-based market, using Japan Solutions as a prime example Can you explain the make-up of Japan Solutions?

Japan Solutions is an alliance we set up last year, partnering Japanese specialists together. Essentially, Japan Solutions is an alliance of marketers (Windstorm Media Communications), payment solutions (Tiger Pay) and gaming solution providers (Tiger Games). This partnership creates a bespoke business perfectly suited the Japanese market. The alliance is open and growing. It’s a way of behaving in a market with unique conditions, and acts as a model that European companies should adopt when trying to break into the Japanese market. This is because the Japanese consumer is unique; they base their judgement of a product on how well it is branded, as well as how original and innovative a brand can be. So creating a unique market entry is something European operators and suppliers looking to enter Japan must do. Large Japanese corporations have been using their unique method for years, which is different from the rest of the world, and customers respond to it. Therefore, it's essential to understand the unique structure of its market when making an entrance. Japan Solutions offers an example to European companies of how to do this.

Could you tell us more about Japan Solutions' approach to the Japanese market?

There isn’t just one method, one structure and one approach; it's more integrated. At Windstorm, we still need to do the right kind of marketing, but this partnership gives us a strong frontend to increase the user’s experience. This is where the concept of the alliance comes in. Even if you market your brand correctly, send a message, and place it in the right places, the whole effort will be worthless if the services aren't up to customers' expectations. The selection of Payment solutions and Game solutions is crucial, and brand's must choose from vast available choices. The payment solution must back up the branding that’s been put in place, because it’s important to establish trust. So we at Windstorm Media have Tiger Pay on board as part of our payment alliance. It has comprehensive services, including full customer service to Japanese markets.

Customer service is fully manned by native speakers who are experienced in their role. This is important when your payment service operates in a grey market, such as Japan. You want to hear your native tongue to give you reassurance that your money is safe. We've asked Tiger Games to join the force because of their collective selection of games and understanding of the Japanese market. They have a great team of researchers constantly checking the market for the next big thing. Windstorm's responsibility is to correctly promote online casino brands using all media. Especially mass media through TV and radio, which form just one aspect of our fully comprehensive service, but is essential when one is trying to make a considerable dent in the market. With each alliance providing what each is expected to provide, the synergy becomes greater. Japan solutions is an attempt to provide the best collective solutions for anyone seeking to make a difference in the Japanese market.

How does this differ from typical activity and partnership models in Japan’s gaming market?

What I’m really proud and passionate about is: I don’t think there has ever been an alliance for the Japanese market like this before. Most operators try to enter the Japanese market and work with local affiliates. So there is competition for the services of

affiliates. Payment solutions, operators and marketers are typically all competing with each other. These companies did not think to look outside their own sector, instead staying within their own 360-degree sphere of influence. No one has really looked outside and tried to create a synergy between payments, marketing and gaming. This is what we’re all about. Companies come to all the great conventions but only see things sideways, focusing on the competitors around them. Japan Solutions can, therefore, provide something different to what is typically found in the industry. We can offer greater assurances that customers will see the onboarding process through, as there is a relationship between the stages in which a player goes through to onboard. This way the customer experience is all connected.

What are the legal considerations companies looking to enter Japan should consider? Japan is a compliance-based grey market, so how should potential entrants approach the market legally?

It’s important that European firms and companies from markets outside Japan get the necessary help from a compliance standpoint when entering. This is because Japan is one of the biggest gaming markets; it is just that no one reports how much they make because it is unregulated. So it will be hard for operators and suppliers entering this large and complicated space, as they may step on the toes of, say, a bigger operator and not know it. Therefore, it’s important they have some market training and assistance when entering Japan. I think the tendency from some is to ignore the issue of legality in Japan, or at least they try to let it remain ambiguous. From what I have gathered, Japan has a huge potential to become one of the biggest markets in the world. We're talking about combining England and the rest of Europe, maybe even more. That's how big the Japanese market is or will be in the near future. With the close of the Chinese market during the Covid-19 pandemic – and the crackdown on junkets and updated gaming laws in Macau – every operator there is now looking to move into the Japanese market.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

69


INSIDERS SARA RITA

Payments: A vital vertical Astropay CCO Sara Rita discusses the growth of digital wallets used by online gaming operators, evolving methods of payment and new safety concerns to consider payment services to make purchases elsewhere. It’s what we all expect. IGaming companies that have failed to keep pace with such accelerated adoption could face losing clients to more progressive businesses. But iGaming companies do not need to reinvent the wheel here. Numerous payment service providers can offer this level of speed and client access via digital wallets. The difficulty is picking the right one for your business.

THE GROWING USE OF DIGITAL WALLETS

We live in a world where information is at our fingertips 24/7, we can buy almost anything online and have it delivered to our homes within a day, if not hours. The iGaming world is no different; operators need to offer clients instant services and therefore instant payments. Digital-first payments have increased in popularity even more during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the global adoption of technology accelerated extensively by three years of Covid, compared to the level of adoption between 2017-2019, according to data from McKinsey. Customers must be able to make deposits and payouts quickly and easily on a gaming site, in the same way they can use digital

The use of digital wallets has grown at pace. Two thirds of adults worldwide have now either made or received a digital payment, according to data from the World Bank. In Europe and Central Asia, about three quarters of adults use accounts to make or receive a digital payment, according to its Global Findex Database 2021. So, digital wallets have become a typical way for people to pay for everything from vending machine purchases to making deposits on a gaming site.

CARDS ARE STILL THE PRIMARY PAYMENT METHOD, BUT THIS IS CHANGING Cards are still a hugely popular method of payment – within the EU alone, 49% of non-cash payments were made via card transactions in 2021, according to data from the European Bank. The highest share of card payments representing non-cash payments

"User validation – which can include the person using the digital wallet needing to upload a selfie to prove it is them – adds another layer of security"

70

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

was in Portugal for 2021, at 72%. Cards can have their limitations, though, especially when it comes to processing cross-border payments, as conversion rates drop significantly – while creating and maintaining an infrastructure of local acquirers and processors isn’t easy nor cheap. Digital wallets simplify these transactions, as clients can move money at will; and merchants don’t need local processing but can rely on a global provider to remove the complexity of cross-border payments and widely international operations.

SAFETY

The safety of these transactions is also second to none. Biometric methods of securing digital wallets on mobile phones or tablets, such as fingerprint access or facial recognition, provide additional security measures that help customers feel more secure. User validation – which can include the person using the digital wallet needing to upload a selfie to prove it is them – adds another layer of security. The primary benefit of using a payment services provider that is agile and flexible is the speed with which payments can be made. Millennials, in particular, expect to make fast payments and are searching for instant gratification, so any delay will put them off from interacting. Digital wallets are easy and simple to use, and yet are one of the most secure methods of transacting online currently available. For iGaming operators, looking not just to simplify and shorten transaction times for existing customers but also to encourage new sign-ups, choosing a payment services partner that can provide digital wallets is an investment in their future. Sara Rita is CCO of AstroPay, which offers a digital wallet solution, allowing users to make deposits and withdrawals directly and seamlessly from merchants’ sites with their preferred payment method and in the currency of their choice.


ROMAN GARIN

INSIDERS

Eye of the machine OSAI CEO Roman Garin speaks to Gambling Insider about starting his data technology company, how he hopes it changes the gambling market and achieving 100% reliability Could you give us a brief overview of your product and how it works?

rate; we actually have a 100% rate if you look at our system when it is in use. We get our results by comparing them with the referee, we compare our prediction and when there is a difference, we make a correction to provide the right data – so when the people get the data from us, they have 100% accurate data. When we started, we realised that referees make mistakes, but because we don’t provide the referee with information, whatever they decide is right – our system has to go along with. But all the deep data we provide still opens the new markets for betting because humans can’t provide this kind of data.

In 2017, I had an idea to replace the human scout with a computer. I have over 14 years of experience in the sports betting industry, so I know how the scouting works; all of these human factors that could somehow relay the data that betting companies buy. When I started, we built the technology over three years and by 2020 our site had become a company for physical sports. Then Covid-19 happened and we decided to start with table tennis. It isn’t a big sport and we were a small company, but because we needed to build the team and technology further it made it tricky to start with a big sport. When we started, we said the main thing for us was that it works in real-time; because we’re talking about the betting industry, the real-time and the quality of the data, accuracy of the data; it is all really important to get right because these are major issues. Of course, they compared this with the human scout and when we’re finished, we should be better than the human scout.

Was the AI Data Scout your first vertical?

Yes, that was our first vertical. The scout takes each frame, analysing the game – not just the raw data, player or ball position – and predicts the score before the referee. When we do that, understand it takes a lot of data, much more than the human scout has. Using table tennis as an example, the human scout will see where the ball is, who is serving and who scores the point; for our system, we use where it bounces on the table, speed, player hand position etc. All that helps us transform everything into data that is useful for the betting industry. The first one is the sport analytics to help the player understand how they could be better than other players, to see what other players do in their games; it could help them become better. Otherwise, we have also created our Mixed Reality system that takes physical sports and mixes it with a virtual world, because younger audiences can be lost and we want to attract them more. The young audience buy into esports more, so we mix reality for them. With the virtual background created in real-time, rendering in 18 milliseconds with a

high-framerate camera, and a computer to cut the delay between the camera and the upload to the server.

If this works well for real-time betting in table tennis and tennis, how does this adapt for other sports?

We’re a software and technology company; for us the data is abstract, so the software could be transferred to any other sport easily. When we started, we only thought about table tennis, but as this tech has gotten better, we have started thinking about how we could implement this in other sports. But because we are still a small company, we can’t just go into the big sports today; we are working as a business and we need to be stable where we are, then to invest in where we want to go. That is our approach, sport by sport.

How reliable is the tech for people that want to adopt it, especially for those who want to place bets on the statistics? In total, 97.5% is the minimum percentage of accuracy we have. This 97.5% doesn’t mean every match we do has a 97.5% reliability

"We’re a software and technology company; for us the data is abstract, so the software could be transferred to any other sport easily"

When you look at the data for lots of other sports, it is all based on humans, who of course can’t do everything, but we could. We could help betting sites be different with them because they could open new betting markets based on our data. In table tennis, you could split the table into 16 squares, you could make bets on where the bounces will be, for example. It’s also about speed and accuracy. Every day we work hard to improve our system and all the products we have in production have a high accuracy rating. In Rocket League, it's about 99%.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

71


INSIDERS GUGA GOTSADZE

The (Latin) American dream SmartSoft CEO and Founder Guga Gotsadze speaks to Gambling Insider about the rise of the company, its USP and its American ambitions Entain and CrystalBet for quite a while – and now we plan to launch worldwide. Basically, we’ll have a small live studio and supply that to our customers; that’s the gaming side. At the same time, because of our years of experience, we have developed a new platform and sportsbook, which is another vertical for us. It is going to be state-of-the-art, completely new technology, very flexible, customisable, with a lot of features for the customers.

What markets are you looking to expand into first with the new platform?

Who is SmartSoft and where are you in the market right now?

We have a few product verticals. But the main one, which we started in 2015, is our gaming studio. One of our main drivers in the gaming studio is non-traditional games and instant games – typical games you would play on your mobile after downloading from the app store kind of thing, except you can gamble. A few years ago, this category was non-existent in the casinos; perhaps there were a few games like that, but they didn’t make any money at all. Right now, it has become part of the mainstream and all of the big operators have it as a separate category in their product offering. This is one of our main drivers, but at the same time we do live, slots and virtual casino games. At the moment we’re doing much more in slots, we hired a product development team and expanded it recently; beforehand our team was more CIS orientated but now we’re making a new system with new and innovative mechanics, and very good visual graphics. The third one I mentioned is live virtual casino; our live casino software offering is something we have been offering to

72

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

“Every iGaming company has American dreams. I think it is in the plan and in the pipeline”

We are thinking about expanding into unregulated markets as a priority, places like Brazil and the LatAm region – after that, we’ll see. We have big plans; but first we want to see and try how things go, then we’ll think of the Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Croatia – I don’t want to miss any of the jurisdictions but next steps. we are in many of them. Currently, we’re in the Are places like the US just a dream, or licensing process in Greece. is that something you’re looking at as We’re looking to expand in Portugal as well, a reality for the near future? once they open the doors for this kind of Every iGaming company has American dreams. betting. We’re working on the UK, too; it is a I think it is in the plan and in the pipeline. Right huge market and we’ll see how that works out. now, we’re also getting licensed in Ontario and With so many competitors in the field, after next year we’ll work on getting licences in what is your USP? the US. So it is in next year’s plans. It is not Well, let us talk about non-traditional games. an easy market regulation-wise, so we have The main driver in these types of games are to figure out the best options for us there. crash games, they are really popular and What other countries in the LatAm many providers are making them. In crash market are you targeting? games, the biggest factor for success is the We’re thinking of Chile, Mexico and Peru as technical capability. If it’s a multiplayer game our main focus. We have the platform ready there are a lot of players, so you should handle and will announce those plans at the SiGMA a lot of traffic without the game lagging and exhibition in Malta; after that we’re ready to without any glitches, bugs or problems. onboard clients and go live with them. It’s We have huge experience in platforms and going to be a turnkey solution; we’re going to sportsbook, that’s why we are strong on the offer software, support and a lot of other technical side. services – only marketing and acquisition will Our games are performing very well, so be on the client side. we can manage huge traffic. We are currently doing that in Brazil where we have Are you still looking to expand 3/5,000 concurrent players with one in European markets? operator, and we’re able to handle that We’re working on that now. We have a without a problem. Whereas some others licence in Romania, Malta, Italy, Sweden, can only handle up to 1,000 max.



FEATURES

PRODUCT REVIEWS

WHAT’S NEW ON THE MARKET? Gambling Insider takes a look at land-based and online games, both marketed to Asian companies and produced by companies operating in the region (as well as a betting smartwatch?) SPINTEC  AURA MULTIGAME AMPHITHEATRE Spintec d.o.o is one of APE’s global partners from Slovenia. It is a world-class Electronic Table Game (ETG) manufacturer with large ETG coverage in Macau and Asia. Its most popular product, Aura Multigame, is a compact amphitheatre gaming solution well known for its cutting-edge design and technical perfection. Aura is gaming perfection brought to life, combining automated, live and virtual games into one seamless and enjoyable multigame

74

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

experience. Aura boasts state-of-the-art technology designed to offer a better gaming experience and an extensive library of games. Loved by Asian Players and operators, Aura Multigame not only installs roulette, craps, baccarat, blackjack, but also sic bo, which caters to Asian players’ preferences. Operators can also opt for a version of Aura Multigame with every possible combination of these games. Aura has been well loved by Macau and Asia players, and casino operators. It has a

proven track record of prolonging gaming sessions, thus generating higher profitability for the operator. During G2E Asia, held in August 2022, plenty of casino operators from Asian countries expressed their interest in Aura. We believe it will be a big hit in the Asian gaming market.

"Loved by Asian Players and operators Aura Multigame not only installs roulette, craps, baccarat, blackjack, but also sic bo"


PRODUCT REVIEWS

FEATURES

LT GAME  HULUNBUIR GRASSLAND On top of enhanced gaming features, unexpected attractions are blended in LT Game’s new slot games. Hulunbuir Grassland, the newly launched slot game of LT Game, brings a unique game theme, new gaming attractions and enhanced bonus features into the Macau market. “Hulunbuir Grassland,” one of the purest prairies in the world, has nurtured unique and characteristic folk culture. Under the joint collaboration between LT Game and Maestro Ulaantug, the nationally recognised First Grade Composer in China, Hulunbuir Grassland combined authentic cultural elements, vivid graphics and beautiful music in the game to create a feeling of being in the prairie. Beautiful scenery for all four seasons appears in the background accompanied by graceful grassland folk music. Moreover, the iconic grassland activities – archery and horsemanship – were integrated into the bonus games. “The Archery Jackpot Bonus Game” is triggered randomly in any base game, awarding various jackpot prizes corresponded with different target rings. “The Lasso of the Horse Feature,” is also triggered randomly in any base game, bringing the excitement of this unique grassland experience

to the players through simulated animations and the corresponding gaming awards. Free games are triggered and retriggered with the appearance of three or more Mongolian Yurts. Magic rock features changes too, with all magic rocks becoming the same symbol (including the WILD symbol), which increases the chance of big wins. The whole game is based on the incentive of bringing players to a whole

new world of adventures and experiences. To sum up, with the vivid graphics and authentic folk music, the game creates an illusion of grasslands; with archery jackpot & lasso the horse bonus games. With these enhancements, players are further immersed in the atmosphere of the Hulunbuir Grassland and will enjoy bonus prizes at the same time.

SB22  AW22 SB22 has launched AW22, an industry-first Apple Watch wagering application. The new Apple Watch app is the first of its kind in the sports betting industry, giving customers the ability to place a bet while on the go. Players can also make a bet using their Apple Watch while watching a game, without needing to dive through complex menus on a mobile phone. The product showcases SB22’s commitment to deliver innovative technology that enhances the betting experience.

The AW22 app offers an intuitive way for customers to place wagers quickly and track the outcome of bets using an Apple Watch. With its swipe along feature and VR functionality, AW22 aims to revolutionise the way people bet. The AW22 app displays a concise betting menu including the most popular bets, as well as personalised offers based on the betting history of a user. AW22 can pair directly to SB22’s native iOS phone app, providing customers with a high level of security which ensures only a player’s

intended wagers are placed. A modern modular platform allows the SB22 app’s technology to evolve over time, putting the user experience at the heart of forefront of app development. The AW22 app gives SB22 operator clients the ability to provide an innovative product ecosystem that can be highly differentiated from competitors. The new app for Apple Watch is immediately available for SB22’s Fi22 sportsbook platform.

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

75


FEATURES

PRODUCT REVIEWS

DIGITAIN  LIVE BACCARAT Digitain Live Casino’s Managing Director, Matthew Charlesworth showcases its new Live Baccarat experience: Within the industry, Baccarat is known as the game VIPs like to play and is especially popular in Asian countries. Go to Singapore or Macau, step inside a casino and you will witness a sea of Baccarat tables. In Las Vegas or London, the games often take place in areas not accessible to the regular patrons, as the stakes are extremely high.

With that in mind, we have launched Baccarat in a beautiful new studio, with two tables to begin. Players will experience five new side bets, paying up to 160-1, on our first version of Baccarat and on our second table; they will see a completely new camera view that makes the mobile experience very special. Other standard betting positions are of course in our design; however, we have not gone down the same route of many other suppliers with side bets such as big and small

– we believe there is no fun in a side bet that only pays 0.54-1. It has been great fun working on the studio design and watching the build as it took shape, and now finished it is once again clear to see that the word ‘luxury’ dominates the environment. Baccarat will be the first in our suite of Asian popular games and we look forward to offering our partners the new experiences to their players. We will showcase our 2023 plans during next year’s ICE, where for sure, other exciting games in the same genre will be demonstrated.

ARMADILLO STUDIOS  FORTUNE DRAGON QUEEN EXOTIC WILDS Fortune Dragon Queen: Exotic Wilds is a 5x3 row, 243 ways slot featuring medium to extreme volatility. Continuing the popular Exotic Wilds theme, the game showcases Asia’s beauty, wealth and wonders, and the players can experience this beautiful culture through a series of special features. This slot showcases various symbols that come to life on the screen, dragon eggs, ingots, Feng Shui Moneymand other treasures covered in gold. The Queen and the Dragon characters are Exotic Wilds, offering multipliers up to 500x on a single exotic wild. Fortune Dragon Queen Exotic Wilds is the first Armadillo Studios game inspired by the wonders of Asian culture. Armadillo Studios’ entire games portfolio is distributed through SlotMatrix, the pure B2B aggregator powered by EveryMatrix.

76

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM


PRODUCT REVIEWS

P43 CABINET  JUMBO GAMES P-43, Jumbo’s latest slot machine, features a 43-inch curved screen and has launched new games “Money Bull” and “Money Tiger” on the Jin Fa Cai Jackpot Link. The jackpot link has a new feature “Spin & Stack” which enables players to collect coins and strike higher levels of awards. This novel Jumbo product is built on a certified gaming platform and is substantially capable. Designed with additional immersive audio and noise cancelling control not only enhances gaming experience but also provides noise attenuation at the same time. The

powerful game engine and innovative game content conveys dynamic sound and visual effects that complement easy gameplay mechanics and monitor resolution. Players will

FEATURES

be mesmerised by the stunning exterior of the cabinet with the big screen and be even more surprised with the enjoyable links games, the “Jin Fa Cai” money series.

"The jackpot link has a new feature Spin & Stack which enables players to collect coins and strike higher levels of awards" GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

77


CONNECTIONS

C

A

Continent 8

Aardvark Technologies

www.continent8.com T: +44 16 2467 8888 E: sales@continent8.com

www.adv.bet T: +370 640 50001 E: sales@adv.bet

Aruze Gaming

www.aruzegaming.com T: +1 70 2361 3166 E: sales@aruze-gaming.com

D Digitain LLC

www.digitain.com T: +3 74 6070 0400 E: info@digitain.com

AstroPay

www.astropay.com

B

E BBIN

EvenBet Gaming

www.bb-in.com E: service@mail.bb-in.com

www.evenbetgaming.com T: +3 56 2776 1655 E: sales@evenbetgaming.com

bet365

EveryMatrix

www.bet365.com T: +44 80 0028 8365 E: support-eng@customerservices365.com

Betradar

www.betradar.com T: +41 7 1517 7200 E: sales@betradar.com

BtoBet

www.btobet.com E: sales@btobet.com

www.everymatrix.com T: +40 3 7104 2222 E: info@everymatrix.com

Evolution

www.evolution.com E: asrealasitgets@evolution.com

Evoplay

evoplay.games E: business@evoplay.games

Elys Game Technology www.elysgame.com T: +1 62 8258 5148

BetConstruct

www.betconstruct.com T: +44 20 3709 9010 E: sales@betconstruct.com

78

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM


CONNECTIONS

Interblock

Exacta Solutions

www.interblockgaming.com E: info@interblockgaming.com

www.exactasolutions.com T: +356 2134 4249 E: info@exactasolutions.com

K

F

Kambi

FastTrack

www.kambi.com T: +356 21315514 E: sales@kambi.com

T: +44 113 320 2245 E: letsgo@fasttrack-solutions.com

L

G Gaming Arts

LeoVegas Affiliates

Global Payments Gaming Solutions

Lightning Box

leovegasaffiliates.com T: +356 27780258 E: affiliate@leovegas.com

www.gamingarts.com T: +1 702 818 8943

www.lightningboxgames.com E: info@lightningboxgames.com

www.globalpaymentsgaming.com T: 702-822-7000 E: tiona.petty@globalpay.com

Greentube

www.greentube.com T: +43 1 90 171 E: office@greentube.com

M MERKUR GAMING

www.merkur-gaming.com T: +49 5741 2736 9301 E: sales@merkur-gaming.com

H Habanero

www.habanerosystems.com E: sales@habanerosystems.com

N Neosurf

www.business.neosurf.com T: +44 1483 3630 91 E: sales@neosurf.com

I IGT

www.igt.com T: + 1 702 669 7777 E: info@igt.com

NOVOMATIC

www.novomatic.com T: +43 2252 606 0 E: communications@novomatic.com

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

79


CONNECTIONS

P

T Pariplay

Trustly Group AB www.trustly.com E: sales@trustly.com

www.pariplayltd.com T: +3 56 2756 3725 E: info@pariplayltd.com

Pragmatic Play

www.pragmaticplay.com E: sales@pragmaticplay.com

V

Pronet Gaming

VallettaPay

www.pronetgaming.com T: +44 (0)20 3814 8084 E: sales@pronetgaming.com

R

www.vallettapay.com T: +44 151 947 0483 E: info@vallettapay.com

W Raven Track

World Match

www.raventrack.com T: 07799 898 175 E: adam@raventrack.com

www.worldmatch.eu T: +39 049 785 1905 E: sales@worldmatch.eu

Relax Gaming

www.relax-gaming.com E: sales@relax-gaming.com

Y Yggdrasil Gaming

S

www.yggdrasilgaming.com E: sales@yggdrasilgaming.com

Suzo Happ

www.na.suzohapp.com T: 888-289-4277 E: sales@suzohapp.com

Soft2Bet

www.soft2bet.com E: office@soft2bet.com

80

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

Z Zitro

www.zitrogames.com T: +352 266 33 E: info@zitrogames.com



FINAL WORD

Sverker Skogberg, SVP of Public Affairs at Paf, speaks to Gambling Insider about the state of the Finnish market and the opportunity it has to expand its regulatory reach Can you give us an overview of the Finnish licensing system and the discussion surrounding it? It’s a very hot topic here right now; the new thing is that it was a bit of a surprise when Veikkaus came out at the end of August and said they think it is worth seriously considering the licence system for Finland in the future, which is something they have not said before. As you can imagine, this has launched a lively discussion, and is likely to be debated in Parliament before the up-and-coming elections in April. Officially, you still have the Lottery Act, the old one, which they made some amendments to. The Gallup leader and the Coalition Party have come out now saying they want to have speedy research about a possible licence system – so, it has really moved forward. In terms of the discussions around the licensing system during the next six months before the election, where do you want to see it go? We are hoping they will introduce tough regulations with an even playing field for everybody; however, responsible gaming should still be the focus of everything – which is connected to our actions involving loss limits. The move we made there was not for any specific market, but for everywhere. From Paf’s side, we’d like to see tough regulation, while making sure that player protection – the initial

reason for having the monopoly – should still be the number one reason for helping a good functioning licence system. We’d also like to see national deposit limits; we are a strong believer that it would be a significant tool for player protection. You already have a discussion here which involves looking at other countries and seeing which model would fit Finland best. How big is the illegal operating market in Finland, and would they be dealt with by the kind of restrictions you’re asking for? If you look at what’s happened in Sweden as an example, they don’t have to be here on an illegal basis; all are welcome to pay tax and be a part of the system and I hope the industry hopes for the same kind of solution. But it will be good to see if everybody can fulfil their requirements, and I think it would be fair if Veikkaus will have fair regulation, too – because until now they have not had the chance to compete on the same conditions as everybody else due to the monopoly regulation. That is the main point for us: everybody should have the same chance in the market. How long has the monopoly been in place now? Well, I don’t remember the exact number of years, but the Lottery Act was changed in 2017. When the three big companies in Finland first merged into Veikkaus, as a

"We’d also like to see national deposit limits; we are a strong believer that it would be a significant tool for player protection" 82

GAMBLINGINSIDER.COM

result the monopoly strengthened, which was good for player protection. But now the big problem is their online market share is decreasing all the time – which Veikkaus themselves have said previously. That’s why it is better to regulate. We have seen it ourselves, Veikkaus and Paf ’s market share is shrinking not growing; so we also have an interest in seeing proper regulation. Which country do you look at as having the most ideal regulation model you’d like Finland to adopt? That’s a tricky question, and something that everybody is thinking about at the moment. I think it would be a mix with a good Nordic touch – looking at the Danish and Swedish model, there are good regulations you can pick parts from. It is important Finland has that freedom, not a copy-paste from any other markets. We have seen things in places like Sweden that are functioning very well; we have been there for four years now, but we also see things that should have been corrected from the start – for instance, B2B licences. Finland has a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes made in other places and pick some of the good parts. Why did you implement your €20,000 ($19,600) loss limit, because you didn’t have to? Well, we do a lot of things we don’t have to. We want to try and be a leader in that respect. We’re not always loved for it, because you can always ask the question ‘are you ready to say no to some of your profit?’ I think in the long run the industry can agree on certain rules, even national loss limits and standards which would be good for everybody. (For more on Paf ’s loss limits, see Skogberg’s Guest Interview in Week 40 of GI Friday)