As 2020 draws to a close, hurrah! many may gleefully declare, CasinoBeats is revisiting an unexpected 12 months full of ups, downs, and everything in between.

We begin, rather surprisingly, in January. A month of what if’s and numerous predictions (see below), as organisations across all industries gear themselves up for what will, hopefully, be a year of endless success.

Developments across the land-based and online casino ecosystem drew interest throughout the 31-day period, however, impending developments in the UK and the ever burgeoning US market seemed to be at the top of the agenda.

Feature of the month

Towards the end of January CasinoBeats travelled to London to gain key insights into one of the month’s most read stories, as Yggdrasil pledged to offer customers the “keys to its kingdom” via the launch of a new publishing division.

The briefing in the English capital city was fronted by CEO Fredrik Elmqvist and head of
publishing Björn Krantz, who spoke at length, and with great passion, about the potential offered by the venture.

Delivering tools to build, create and offer a complete B2B gaming business, the publishing arm, which developed at pace throughout the year, comes with three core value propositions of YG franchise (platform IP licensing) YG masters (game development and distribution program) and YG game IP (game IP licensing).

When Krantz concluded by proclaiming: “You’ll be able to get four or five stories out of this,” it could be hard to believe the lengthy discussion began over a light Pret a Manger lunch with talk of football, travel and Mexican luchadores.

In the news

January seems like (it was decades ago!) a much more simple time, before full-year strategies became decimated by the impending health crisis. In the gaming ecosystem it was the UK and US which were very much dominating the agenda, with developments on both side of the pond attracting the attention the many.

In the former it was a pair of withdrawals, albeit due to contrasting circumstances, which were among the best performers during the month. LeoVegas cited poor performance in its decision to pull its Royal Panda brand from the UK market, as Max Entertainment, whose flagship online casino brand Slotty Vegas is joined by GoSlotty, Vulkanbet and GGBet in its portfolio, outlined its intention to leave due to Brexit concerns.

Further activity in the region came the way of the Gambling Commission, as the regulator confirmed that a widely-anticipated ban on the use of credit cards across all gambling verticals would be implemented in April.

Elsewhere, a surge in US-focused content saw Vici Properties confirm its $843.3m Jack Entertainment purchase, which the firm acquiring 100 per cent of the membership interest of two subsidiaries of Jack Ohio, which owned the casino-entitled land and real estate and related assets of Jack Cleveland Casino, as well as the racing and video lottery-authorised land and real estate and related assets of Jack Thistledown Racino.

Further interest in the region came the way of Konami Gaming, which was selected by Virgin Voyages to provide its Synkros casino management system for its founding fleet of luxury cruise liners.

Virgin Voyages had announced plans to launch four ships, leading with the Scarlet Lady which was scheduled to set sail in April 2020, with Synkros to power gaming operations for its first three cruise ships. Due to 2020’s unexpected circumstances, the Scarlet Lady is now set for its maiden voyage in May 2021.

Recommended reading

We close the first month with a trio of predictions for the year ahead. Firstly Rachel Swann, commercial director at 3radical, identified the key digital marketing trends to look out for, with Simon Dorsen, director of gaming at Okto Group, pondering if 2020 is the year of the cashless revolution.

Video of the month

To continue the theme set forth above, at the SBC Awards 2019 we asked a number on industry stakeholders what challenges 2020 could bring.