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 global sporting landscape began to resemble something that appeared more like normality, minus the inclusion of fans in many countries, much to and fro was still occurring on a global basis regarding continued closures, or reopening strategies, of gaming establishments.

As September brought news of the value of gambling cryptocurrencies, the Dutch Remote Gambling Act announced yet another delay, Aspire Global detailed a multi-million Euro transaction, and the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital took place.

Feature of the month

Arguably one of Europe’s most established territories for gaming, with plenty of potential for converting a wealth of land-based players to online, we caught up with some of Italy’s most popular suppliers to hear the latest on the market.

In the first of a two part Italian special, we kicked things off with a wealth of local insights from Arcangelo Lonoce, head of business development Europe at Habanero, Denis Koshel, technical account manager at Playson and Ed Muldoon, head of region Italy, Malta and Eastern Europe at Yggdrasil Gaming.

In the news

As it was reported that gambling cryptocurrencies had soared to a combined value of $150m, Aspire Global announced a €20m cash agreement to acquire all share of sportsbook and tech provider BtoBet.

In addition, a further delay in the implementation of the Netherlands’ Remote Gambling Act was announced, to March 1, 2021, and calls for a three year tax holiday and a six-month waiver on interest charges were made by Shrinivas Naik, director of Casino Pride Goa, one of the western Indian state’s largest floating casinos.

Back to the UK tug-of-war, and the Betting and Gaming Council warned of a potential ‘catastrophic’ impact to the UK’s casino sector should a 10pm curfew be introduced.

Something that led to casinos in London making a plea to Mayor Sadiq Khan to shut their bars after 10pm, in a bid to avoid job losses should a curfew be imposed upon leisure venues to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In Canada, Great Canadian Gaming provided an update on the status of its 25 properties across Canada, while south of the border Resorts World Catskills documented its reopening strategies.

Staying in New York, and it was projected that the legalisation of online sports betting could yield up to $900m in annual revenue and $108m in tax for the state.

Elsewhere, Red Rock Resorts has welcomed a long-awaited California Supreme Court ruling that clears a major hurdle in the development of a casino near Madera, California, alongside the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

The court ruled that former Governor Jerry Brown acted within his authority when he concurred in a pair of federal decisions in 2011 that led to the approval of two so-called ‘off-reservation’ tribal gaming projects in Madera and Yuba counties.

Recommended reading

SBC Summit roundtable: Assessing the casino agenda

As hurtled towards the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital, Sue Yoxall, executive director at mkodo; Ollie Castleman, head of marketing at OneTouch and Richard Hogg, CCO at BetGames.TV, went head-to-head on what needs to be on the casino agenda for some of the market’s leading suppliers.

Lena Yasir: Continuing the live casino success story

Lena Yasir, vice-president at Pragmatic Play, talked to CasinoBeats about how live casino can play an even more important role for operators in the near future and what is next for the multi-product supplier.

SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital highlights

Igaming leadership warns of black market threats in the road to recovery

Having undertaken drastic adjustments to mitigate the impacts on an unprecedented 2020, industry leadership bluntly stated its assumption that a recovery against compounding global business headwinds will be the sector’s toughest challenge ever.

A ‘global outlook’ provided from the perspective of igaming’s upper deck closed the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital’s Big Stage, stating that thinking has moved beyond seeking a return to normal.

In its road to recovery igaming was said to face a myriad of challenges, with certain factors in the control of incumbents (operations, conduct, product offering), running in parallel against the individual reactions taken by governments in their recovery from the pandemic.

Safer Gambling: Responsibility must remain with operators

A panel of experts discussing safer gambling as part of day four of the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital agreed that while legislation and even harmonisation are key to addressing the issue, the obligation remains firmly with operators to take action.

Discussing the merits of harmonisation, a distinguished panel agreed that EU-wide standards remained unlikely but that regulators should also resist ‘one-size-fits-all’ legislation that might be perceived as relieving some obligation from the operators.

Hoffstedt: We may have to re-regulate the Swedish market once again

“We may have to re-regulate the Swedish market once again,” warned Gustaf Hoffstedt, secretary general for the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling, as he discussed the decreasing rates of channelisation in Sweden.

Speaking as part of ‘The fallout from Sweden’ panel at the SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital, Hoffstedt explained that the newly-imposed deposit limits are having a negative impact upon channelisation, thus driving players towards off-shore, unlicensed casino sites.

The panel, moderated by Jesper Kärrbrinkcreative director at Green Jade Games, initially struggled to find some of the positives that have come about as a result of the re-regulation of the market – with the introduction of player protection measures, channelisation and credibility being among the most favoured outcomes.

What’s the best way to spend £100m?

In June the biggest five operators in the UK, and members of the Betting and Gaming Council, confirmed that they would provide £100m worth of funding to GambleAware to improve treatment services, but what’s the best way to spend the money?

That was the question posed to Paul Buck, CEO of Epic Risk Management, Minal Jain, co-founder of RecoverMe and Martin Lycka, director of regulatory affairs, GVC Holdings, in a panel discussion at SBC Summit Barcelona – Digital, led by Daniel Bliss, head of external affairs at YGAM, who ably assumed the moderating role.

The 40 minute session travelled down numerous avenues of the research, education and treatment paradigm, addressing a need to remove stigma, improve education and increase signposting, as well as touching on responsibilities assumed by operators, the necessity of correctly utilising lived experience and delivering anonymised methods.

Video of the month

Sportradar founder & CEO Carsten Koerl and DraftKings founder, chairman & CEO Jason Robins discuss the sports betting business in a post-COVID environment. touching upon lessons learned during the pandemic, the challenge of adapting to the disruption caused to their businesses and their vision for the future of sports betting entertainment.