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 CasinoBeats Malta Digital swung into full gear, and the SBC Digital Summit North America staged its inaugural offering, green-lights being issued for casino reopening’s surged towards the top of the charts in the eyes of our readers.

As Genesis Global signalled its intention to appeal a UK Gambling Commission licence suspension, a multitude of industry incumbents continued to enact US expansion strategies as Evolution offered an update on its moves to acquire NetEnt.

Feature of the month

In a bid to attract more casual players and retain sportsbook punters who’ve transitioned to online casino in the previous months, slot studios were changing their approach to game design. From lower minimum stakes to higher RTPs, we looked at what suppliers were doing to broaden the appeal of their portfolios.

We gained insights from Simon Hammon, CPO of Relax Gaming, Robert Lee, commercial director of Realistic Games, Oliver Castleman, head of marketing at OneTouch, Andy Sekula, head of games at Kalamba Games, and Ivan Kravchuk, Evoplay Entertainment CEO.

In the news

The overwhelmingly most read story during June was news of the UK Gambling Commission announcing an interim suspension to the operating licence of Genesis Global Limited due to suspicions that certain conditions had been breached.

Commenting that “this is due to a number of compliance issues,” the licence suspension, effective from Monday 20 July 2020, made it illegal for Genesis Global to offer gambling services via its suite of igaming sites in Great Britain.

Those sites suspended were Casoola Casino, Casino Planet, Kassu, CasinoCruise, Casino Gods, Casino Joy, Genesis Casino, Pelaa, Sloty Online Casino, Spela, Spinit and Vegas Hero.

Subsequently, Genesis Global confirmed its intention to appeal the decision, stating that the regulator’s decision was disproportionate and inconsistent.

Issuing a statement regarding the company’s position on the matter, Genesis Global said that it was the subject of a routine compliance assessment in early July, asserting that it hasd “undergone these assessments previously without any adverse material findings”.

As Evolution outlined an accelerated vision to be brought about by its potential NetEnt acquisition, Grosvenor Casinos urged the UK government to reopen casinos, and Genting criticised a “whack-a-mole” approach after expressing frustration at further delays.

As Australia’s largest casino, the Crown Melbourne, announced it would remain closed as the city of Melbourne re-entered stage three lockdown for a further six weeks, Atlantic City casinos began welcoming patrons back through their doors.

Recommended reading

Genting UK: ‘We are confident that our casinos are safe’

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that casinos in England would not reopen on August 1 during a Downing Street briefing on lockdown restrictions, Genting UK became one of many casino brands questioning the decision.

In a statement, the firm condemned the decision to delay the re-opening by citing that the decision should have been made sooner, not ‘less than 24 hours notice as to this change of plan’.

Speaking to CasinoBeats, Jon Duffy, senior vice president corporate assurance and regulatory affairs at Genting UK, explained the impact this decision had on the company and highlighted the precautions the firm had put in place prior to the delay.

GamesFest roundtable: Innovation in gaming

At Scientific Games’ virtual GamesFest customer event, Stewart Darkin joined a discussion about the importance of innovation from companies that have shaped the gaming experience in recent times, alongside Big Time Gaming CEO Nik Robinson, LeoVegas head of casino James Ford, ReelPlay CCO Dave Johnson and Scientific Games’ content director Rob Procter.

CasinoBeats Malta Digital highlights

Taking live casino mainstream

Day two of CasinoBeats Malta Digital placed ‘The Future of Gaming‘ as a central focus in proceedings, with affiliates, platforms and aggregators all put under the spotlight.

In a panel entitled ‘Live Casino: At a Crossroads,’ Jeremy Taylor, managing director of Genting Online, Christos Mavridis, live casino manager at Stoiximan and Betano, Sam Brown, CCO of Hero Gaming and Stefania Mincu, head of casino at Ellmount Interactive, dissected the live sector, under the watchful eye of James Bennett, director of Square in the Air, who moderated proceedings.

“Firstly though I’ll just say no it has definitely not reached its peak,” Taylor asserted to get things underway, when pressed on how far can the sector the sector can potentially grow, or if it has in fact reached its peak.

Jesper Kärrbrink: Consolidation could shift the games content balance

Jesper Kärrbrink, chairman at Green Jade Games, stated a belief that the imminent takeover of NetEnt by Evolution Gaming, while being a “fantastic deal” for both parties, could shift the balance and provide an opportunity for the smaller games providers.

Speaking as part of the day-three ‘Leaders Panel,’ Kärrbrink explained: “Suddenly, operators might have 30 or 40 per cent of revenues from the same supplier. This opens up more opportunities for the smaller guys because as an operator you need to risk-diversify your content, and not put all your eggs in one basket.”

He added: “From an Evolution and NetEnt perspective this is a fantastic deal but it could come out good for Green Jade and other smaller suppliers too.”

Video of the month

Catch the highlights from day two of CasinoBeats Malta Digital.