Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today, we take a look at the end of Full Tilt, an English COVID roadmap, further troubles for Crown Resorts and the UKGC urging extra operator vigilance.
The Stars Group has announced that the last remaining assets of Full Tilt poker will be taken offline this week, with all players to be migrated to the flagship PokerStars entity.
After initially beginning life in 2004, the Full Tilt desktop and mobile applications will no longer be available from February 25, 2021. All account information, preferences, balances, tickets and bonuses will remain available on the PokerStars software.
PokerStars absorbed its rival almost five years ago when the then Amaya Gaming confirmed a successful migration of the two onto a single platform, with the group committing to a dual brand poker strategy but citing a better gaming experience and increased efficiency by pooling the two onto one product.
With the Full Tilt software to be taken offline later in the week, TSG updates that all balances, including those in multiple currencies, t-money and tickets, as well as any casino or poker bonuses, available via Full Tilt accounts are also available on PokerStars.
April 12 has been set as the date by the government for betting shops in England to reopen, with adult gaming centres, bingo halls and casinos scheduled to follow on May 17.
Though not directly confirmed during the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday evening, step two of the government’s plan includes the reopening of ‘non-essential retail’ with indoor hospitality and hotels opening their doors on the aforementioned date in May.
During Johnson’s address, the PM noted that all stages of reopening would rely on data regarding the spread of the virus and highlighted that there would be ‘at least’ five weeks between each step.
The UK Gambling Commission has stated that “extra operator vigilance is needed during the current national lockdown,” after reviewing further data on the impact of tightened restrictions on online gambling behaviour in the region.
Data for December, acknowledged as a “traditionally busy period,” sees the overall number of total bets/spins increase by 12 per cent from November, while the number of active players rose six per cent.
Gross gambling yield jumped by 30 per cent to almost £614m between November and December, driven by both growth in player numbers and an increase in operator margins for real event betting.
The regulator also reports that slots GGY increased by 13 per cent to nearly £200m during the period, with the number of bets rising by 12 per cent to almost six billion and the number of active accounts up six per cent to almost three million, both of which are said to be “the highest from within the COVID-19 pandemic period”.
The number of online slots sessions lasting longer than an hour increased by 11 per cent to 2.5 million in November to December. The average session length decreased slightly to 21.5 minutes, with around eight per cent lasting in excess of one hour.
The Betting and Gaming Council has affirmed that it will “keep up the momentum” in its quest to raise standards across the industry, following a UK Gambling Commission quarterly report into gambling participation, and problem gambling prevalence data, for the year to December 2020.
Asserting that it has “worked tirelessly to drive up standards in the regulated betting and gaming industry,” the BGC says that future manoeuvres could see opt outs for online advertising.
This comes after a UKGC survey showed that the problem gambling rate in 2020 was down from 0.6 per cent in 2019 to 0.3 per cent, although the regulator does note that it is “not a statistically significant decrease at the 95 per cent level” of confidence.
The findings, based on a survey of 4,007 UK adults between March and December last year, also highlighted that those gamblers classed as being at ‘moderate risk’ of harm fell from 1.2 per cent to 0.9 per cent between 2019 and 2020.
Furthermore, the ‘low risk’ rate is said to have demonstrated a “significant decrease,” according to the UKGC, after falling from 2.7 per cent to two per cent over the same period.
The Victorian government has established a Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne’s suitability to hold its Victorian casino licence, as well as the suitability of its associates, including Crown Resorts.
This comes after a scathing report in New South Wales, commissioned by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and led by former supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, found that the company isn’t fit to operate the $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort.
The almost 800-page critique of Crown’s suitability, which itself followed allegations raised by Australia’s Nine Network, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other media outlets, alleged that Crown, or its agents, affiliates or subsidiaries, engaged in money-laundering; breached gambling laws; and partnered with junket operators with links to drug traffickers, money launderers, human traffickers, and organised crime groups.
Occurring as Harold Mitchell became the latest director to resign from Crown with immediate effect, the Royal Commission will be spearheaded by former Federal Court judge and senior barrister Raymond Finkelstein QC.
The government has also commenced work to establish an independent casino regulator, and minister for consumer affairs, gaming and liquor regulation Melissa Horne has commissioned a review to advise on the necessary structural and governance arrangements.
This will occur in parallel with the Royal Commission and will also assess, among other things, requirements for regulation of money laundering and junket operations.
Enlabs has confirmed its intention to relaunch in the Swedish market this year as part of a large strategic growth plan, as the group reports quarter-on-quarter growth in activity and revenue across all markets in its latest trading update.
In December, Enlabs maintained that the Swedish market was “of great interest” to the company, despite detailing the decision to voluntarily revoke its licenses for commercial online gaming and betting within the country.
It is said that the reason behind the decision was due to the need for technical development work linked to the company’s certified platform, with internal work having already begun.
Asserting that the group reflects a “leaner, more agile and fully aligned organisation” after its Global Gaming integration, Enlabs says that it will adopt a dual geographic target moving forward, with plans to expand into emerging regions on hold due to COVID-19 impacts with its Chile and Peru projects closed.
Spearheaded by its OptiBet and Ninja Casino flagship brands, the Baltics and Nordics are to become Enlabs’ prime focus moving forward, with Ukraine and Belarus to join Sweden in anticipated 2021 launch regions.