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 we approached the start of summer, huge interest remained in the ongoing, and rapidly spreading, health crisis, with ongoing closures, and in some cases phased reopening’s, dominating the month’s agenda.

Elsewhere, a blockbuster merger entered completion, a review into online gambling self-exclusion tools reported a lack of quality, and the UK Gambling Commission published new guidance for online operators.

Feature of the month

As we entered May, and with our first virtual event in full flow, it was a feature article from the past month that combined the overriding number one topic of the year with live casino that captured readers’ attention during the period.

As many tackled the biggest challenge they had ever faced, the pandemic offered some verticals, live casino being one prime example, with the opportunity to become more creative in their approaches to reaching audiences, with some choosing to bring the live casino set-up to the comfort of their own home, while others put pen to paper and secured new, more international partnerships.

Speaking as part of a ‘Live Casino in Lockdown‘ panel on day two of the SBC Digital Summit, were Karolina Pelc, owner of Basic Strategy, as moderator, alongside Sam Brown, CCO of Hero Gaming; Richard Atkinson, head of live casino at William Hill; and Jeremy Taylor, MD of Genting Online.

In the news

Before taking its stake in FanDuel to 95 per cent in a multi-billion dollar deal later in the year, Flutter Entertainment completed its long awaited merger with the Stars Group in May.

Following the transaction, Flutter outlined five reporting segments which included TSG International (excluding current US operations), Paddy Power Betfair, Sky Betting and Gaming, Australia (including SportsBet and BetEasy), and US (including FanDuel and all TSG US operations).

Elsewhere, online gambling self-exclusion tools for vulnerable consumers were found to be ‘made available with no quality assurance or assessment to inform consumer choice, and promoted by treatment providers, operators and the regulator’ according to a report into online gambling tools.

The review, entitled Online gambling self-exclusion: rapid consumer review of selected tools, was conducted by Simon Thompson, a health and social care specialist, and Alexander Källman, independent consultant at Mind.

This month also saw the UK Gambling Commission publish new guidance for online operators, instructing that tighter measures needed to be implemented to protect consumers during lockdown.

In what will be a recurring theme throughout these monthly reviews, the ongoing chaos caused by COVID-19 continued to be a top performer. On the occasion, however, it was phased reopenings throughout the US, as well as in New Zealand, that were brought to the fore.

Recommended reading

Roundtable: How to adapt a retail slot for the online market, part two

As more operators look to broaden their slots offering with games that appeal to both online and retail players, can existing land-based titles work just as effectively in the digital environment? We asked five game developers for their views on what types of games and features can make the transition from the casino floor to desktop and mobile devices.

Genting and Evolution delve into the ascent of live casino

Live casino’s place at the igaming table was seemingly been moving from strength to strength earlier in the year, despite the impact of the current climate, with numerous organisations opening up to the sector and new studios increasingly cropping up across a number of jurisdictions.

Two specific examples came in the form of Evolution Gaming and Genting, with the former enduring consistent growth on a global basis and the latter aiming to strengthen its position in the aftermath of last year’s €15m purchase of live gaming specialist Authentic Gaming from LeoVegas.

However, with a history steeped in land-based real-estate, should, or could, live casino be doing more to embrace new technologies? And how much of a role does this play with regards to innovation within the sector.

Video of the month

SBC set the standard for the new world of virtual conferences and exhibitions by attracting an audience of betting and gaming industry professionals from 100 countries to the first SBC Digital Summit.

SBC Digital Summit highlight

The SBC Digital Summit takes centre stages once again, as Rebecca Liggero, lead reporter of Ayre Media, posed the question of what operators can do in terms of communication when it comes to crypto, and how they can maximise its use as a method of currency for its players.

Speaking on the ‘Blockchain Payments as a Driver in Crisis’ panel during day four of the SBC Digital Summit, Lloyd Purser, COO of Funfair Technologies, emphasised his belief that although education is a major part of bringing new players to crypto, there are also many other factors involved.