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.

As the world got to grips with a potentially lengthy disruption to everyday lives, and all necessary implication that we are now all too familiar with, the fallout from continues betting and gaming closures continued across numerous jurisdictions.

With SBC hosting what became the first in a number of virtual events, the UK Gambling Commission imposed a hefty penalty package, potential Swedish manoeuvres draw the ire of many, and the continued disruption being felt on a global scale continued to capture the attention.

Feature of the month

As a race to online continued among many primarily land-based centric organisations, a diversified igaming offering was being sought by numerous more as a direct consequence of global lockdown measures being imposed.

CasinoBeats chose to place its focus on games that appeal to both online and retail players, and looked at if existing land-based titles work just as effectively in the digital environment?

We put the questions to Robert Lee, commercial director at Realistic Games, Jo Purvis, director of marketing and relationships at Blueprint Gaming, Nikolay Illyustrov, game producer at Playson, Boro Brumen, games producer at Greentube, and Rob Procter, content specialist director at SG Digital.

In the news

April saw Caesars Entertainment accept a series of “systematic failings” that saw the firm issued with a £13m regulatory settlement following a UK Gambling Commission investigation.

As a result, three senior managers departed the firm and a series of improvement were ordered after the regulator documented social responsibility, money laundering and customer interaction failures, including those involving ‘VIPs’.

All £13m from the case, which saw the aforementioned senior personnel at the company surrender their personal licences, will be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

The conversation also turned to Sweden, which became a recurring theme throughout the year, as Svenska Spel called on licensees to step up after the country’s Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi proposed a number of temporary changes in gaming legislation due to the pandemic.

Shekarabi suggested that the limit for deposits to a gaming account may not exceed SEK 5,000 per week with a SEK 100 cap on bonus offers, as well as making it mandatory for players to set limits on playing time.

This led to BonusFinder, among numerous others, warning of a potential ‘black market boom,’ with the firm previously finding that almost of a third of Swedish igaming players were searching for unlicensed casinos.

On the unescapable topic of 2020, and US casinos continued to react to COVID developments, with Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming and the, then, Twin River Worldwide Holdings, documenting support packages and additional measures to mitigate the financial impact, as well as helping out local communities in dealing with the crisis.

Recommended reading

Gaming influences: Tetiana Shumakova Evoplay Entertainment

Influences come in many shapes and sizes and from a variety of sources, with even, what seems on the surface, the smallest incident able to have a profound affect on the character and development of individuals.

Those in igaming are undoubtedly no different, but one segment whose reach throughout the sector can’t be denied concerns the many generations of video games platforms and the seemingly unending spin-offs that ensue.

The early successes of Atari, development of Nintendo and today’s all too often PlayStation/Xbox debates have spawned an endless supply of entertainment, from board games to the thousands of apps many now have at their finger tips, and everything in between, also contributing.

In a new series, we asked those across the industry to elaborate on their own gaming influences, beginning with Tetiana Shumakova, product owner at Evoplay Entertainment.

SBC Digital Summit highlights

Towards the end of the month, as previously mentioned, SBC hosted its first virtual event of the year, with the SBC Digital Summit taking centre stage and laying the platform for a multitude of online offerings throughout the year. Here, we pick out a selection of particular highlights.

Kärrbrink: Now is the most important time to promote responsible gaming

Where else can we start, other than with Jesper Kärrbrink, co-founder and chairman of Green Jade Games, addressing leadership during the pandemic in a rousing keynote address.

Starting off the session, Kärrbrink talked about the “C-time” period, yet instead of COVID-19 times he’s labelled it “crazy times” with a situation which could have “come out of a Hollywood movie.”

Innovation hits pause with players ‘a very high priority’

The online casino industry is strong and sustainable, and stakeholders must continue ongoing collaborations to ensure a heightened level of responsible gaming is maintained throughout COVD-19 imposed lockdowns and beyond, asserted Ivan Filletti, COO at Gaming Malta.

Filetti was joined on ‘Gaming – The Industry’s Lifeline’ by Alexander Stevendahl, CEO of VideoslotsAriel Reem, CEO of Genesis Group, Itai Zak, CEO of GoWild Gaming and Alex Tomic, CEO of Slotsmillion.

Changing habits and continuity amid COVID-19

Changing consumer habits and image enhancements were among the key issues addressed by C-level leaders on the first day of the SBC Digital Summit.

Participating on a panel dedicated to ‘Business continuity in the face of COVID-19 during the inaugural day of the week-long digital conference, Shay Segev, then COO of GVC Holdings, addressed a rising interest in sports previously considered more niche adding that gaming, too, has seen a lift.

The opening panel of the day’s Leadership in Betting track saw Segev joined by George Daskalakis, CEO & founder, Stoiximan / Betano; Tim Heath, CEO and founder, Coingaming Group; Jesper Svensson, CEO, Betsson Group. Moderating duties were handled by Jordan Levin, Group CEO of SG Digital.