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 October rolled around, SBC’s catalogue of virtual event offerings entered full steam ahead, with Betting on Sports Europe Digital and SBC Digital Summit Africa taking centre stage.

The lifting of a licence suspension in the UK, casino grand opening in the US, and European expansion for the soon to be rebranded GVC Holdings all scored well in the CasinoBeats charts.

Feature of the month

At the turn of the month we joined a smattering of global media outlets as Scientific Games’ SG Digital subsidiary hosted MediaFest 2020, which you could be forgiven for thinking was a launch show for SG TV.

The goal was a simple one, to lift the lid on its OpenSports, OpenGaming and OpeniLottery platforms, introduce a handful of new collaborations and offer a variety of key insights in the future trajectory of the betting and gaming ecosystems.

Resembling an in-house news channel, we heard projections of the US’ igaming and sports betting ecosystems, as well as three key collaborations detailed in the former of those, alongside Big Time GamingNetEnt, and Hard Rock International.

In the news

Following a licence suspension earlier in the year, Genesis Global was awarded the green-light to resume the operations of its roster of online casino brands within the United Kingdom, after the UK Gambling Commission lifted the suspension of its remote operating licence.

Labelled a “swift licence suspension lift,” the decision enabled Genesis to resume trading with immediate effect, after being hit with the interim suspension in July.

Betsson Group cited relatively small market share and unsustainable changes to regulatory frameworks as prime reasons in announcing a UK business consolidation.

This saw three of the group’s four licences, one of which was under review, handed back to the UKGC, as the firm focused its attention on the Rizk online casino and sports betting brand.

Slightly further afield, GVC Holdings, which was soon to become Entain, purchased Portuguese igaming operator, and also welcomed the introduction of the transitional period tolerance policy in Germany following the agreement from the German federal states on September 10.

In the US, California’s Cache Creek Casino Resort confirmed that a temporary closure that initially commenced on September 20 was the result of an external attack on the property’s computer network.

Called “a major computer systems disruption” in an update, the facility first noted that “due to an unforeseen systems failure” the resort was “unable to operate fully at this time”. It was initially noted that the closure was non-COVID related.

Las Vegas and Phoenix were named as the first locations for the development of the pop culture and video game inspired Atari HotelsUniversal Music Group announced the launch of its UMUSIC Hotels chain, one of the first locations of which will be a $1.2bn casino resort in Biloxi, Mississippi; and the Quapaw Nation’s $350m Saracen Casino Resort hosted its grand opening.

Recommended reading

How important are seasonal titles to igaming portfolios?

Every year we see Halloween slots take centre stage around this time, with provider’s all over the world creating spooky content. But how important are these to portfolios and do players still crave seasonal titles?

CasinoBeats spoke to Andrew Crosby, Relax Gaming director of account management, Markus Antl, Greentube head of sales, Carl Ejlertsson, director of business development at Red Tiger, and Andy Sekula, head of games at Kalamba Games, to get their views.

Melanie Hainzer: This is the beginning of a major movement

Earlier this year Kalamba Games and Wildz collaborated to challenge eight Twitch streamers to win the chance to give input into the design of a new slot title, with the link-up marking the first time that a games supplier had teamed up with a casino to leverage the streaming platform in such a way.

With the slots streaming ecosystem frequented by CasinoBeats on many occasions during the year, we caught up with the operator and eventual winner, CasinoTest24, to delve into future possibilities and the avenues opened up by the competition, which ran between April 27 – May 10.

“We anticipated a successful streaming collaboration with supplier Kalamba Games for this novel competition,” Melanie Hainzer, CMO at Wildz, began by touching upon the initial hopes for the streaming contest.

Video of the month

After a long standing successful football career, Yakubu Ayegbeni discusses the highlights of his time in the sport and his new role as an ambassador for Nigeria with gambling brand Interwetten.

SBC Digital Summit Africa highlights

Blockchain in Africa: Next few years critical in regulatory adoption

“In the next few years you will see regulators in Africa adopt this type of technology.” stated John Kamara, director at Naija Lottery, on the debate of the use of blockchain technology.

During a 40 minute discussion on day two of SBC Digital Summit Africa in a session titled ‘Everything you wanted to know about blockchain gaming but were afraid to ask,’ the panel discussed the uncertainty surrounding what blockchain has to offer and how it actually works in a gaming environment.

Problem gambling: The South Africa approach

The onus on operators regarding a plethora of issues, such as compliance, responsibility and safer gambling, has arguably never been as prevalent, with global lockdowns heightening that attention further still as online sectors boomed throughout 2020.

It could be said that responsible gaming and compliance are at the forefront of the industry in Europe, but how does that translate into the African jurisdictions?

Taking a central focus on South Africa, a four person panel at this week’s SBC Digital Summit Africa, moderated by Andrew Morgan, director of commercial growth and product strategy at Dam Mad Media Limited, delved into what methods are being used to monitor responsible gambling within the country, and looked at how the COVID shutdown impacted the country.

National and state regulators need to harmonise

Ibukun Okeowo, CEO of Gibet, has implored the national and state regulatory committees to seek synergy in an attempt to achieve synchronicity in regulated markets across West Africa.

Speaking on the first day of SBC Digital Summit Africa, Okeowo, participating on the panel ‘The Challenges of West Africa’ highlighted issues within Nigeria and called on both committees to explore a way to harmonise both state and national regulations.

“The bodies in Nigeria are not in sync,” claimed Okeowo. “We have a national lottery commission, we also have the state lottery commission … and they are not in sync. You have to pay for a national lottery licence yet the state is still going to ask you to pay so it’s a bit costly for a new start up to break into the retail market.”