Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today, we revisit a further Scientific Games purchase, MGM divestment, vaccination mandates, and GambleAware’s NGTS progress.
Scientific Games advanced its global igaming ambitions, as well as detailing its entry into the live casino vertical, after acquiring Authentic Gaming.
The company had previously affirmed an ongoing aim of becoming “a brilliant, forward-thinking gaming company,” as well as “the igaming industry leader,” upon securing the purchase of Sydney-based slots studio Lightning Box three months ago.
Scientific Games said that its “strong ambitions” for the Authentic Gaming includes securing an extended offering across the US which will see the creation of an array of studios with view to offering a localised product for operators across the region.
The purchase, which is lauded as representing “another milestone” in SG’s ongoing strategic plan, strengthens the firm’s in-house development capabilities to build live casino products.
Furthermore, it will also allow the company to further leverage its content IP, land-based relationships and OpenGaming platform for accelerated growth in this channel.
A UK Gambling Commission interim evaluation into last year’s credit card ban indicated that “the action is popular among consumers and has not resulted in harmful unintended consequences”.
The ban on gambling with credit cards was announced on January 14, 2020, and ultimately introduced three months later, with a view to “add another layer of protection for consumers and add friction to the process of gambling with borrowed money”.
The report, based upon an online tracker survey, with around 2,000 adults over 18, and consumer voice research, that involved an eight day online programme with 30 individuals, was undertaken by Yonder Consulting and 2CV, respectively, and found that support for the ban among consumers “has been largely positive”.
The UKGC added that qualitative data from consumers “supports the conclusion that the ban helps people to gamble within their means and retain control”.
The proportion of consumers reporting gambling with other forms of borrowed money is said to have remained stable, with it added that “there has been no increase in reports of illegal money lending related to gambling”.
Canadian-based casino games developer Pong Games Studios had a multimillion-dollar judgement ruled against it by the Superior State of California following a decade-long pursuit.
Confirmed by California attorney general, Rob Bonta, as part of the terms of the judgement, Pong agreed to pay $3.5m in civil penalties, costs, and attorney fees, along with permanently halting its illegal gambling operations within the state.
Additionally, Pong may also be held liable for as much as $15m if it fails to comply with the terms set out in the final judgement, with the group required to relinquish all rights to seized assets described in the complaint, with the California Department of Justice authorised by law to destroy all such seized equipment.
Commenting on the ruling Bonta noted that “under the guise of lawful sweepstakes”, Pong had “knowingly used casino-style games” as a way to “prey upon vulnerable” players within the state and the judge now “puts a halt” on its unlawful activities.
MGM Resorts is to divest Las Vegas’ The Mirage Hotel and Casino, as the group stands poised to add the operations of the Cosmopolitan next year after entering into a £1.65bn deal, alongside Blackstone, in September.
The comments came in an earnings call regarding the group’s third quarter performance, during which Bill Hornbuckle, MGM CEO and president, also detailed ongoing growth efforts in the US, concerning New York in particular, as well as Japan.
In addition to detailing an intention to offload “a historic property with great brand recognition and a strong customer and loyal following,” the company also remains “keen on diversifying our business and further expanding our operations globally”.
Following a “milestone” agreement that saw the group selected by the Orix consortium as a partner to build and operate an integrated resort in Osaka, MGM is working to submit an area development plan to the central government in the coming months and is “hopeful and confident” of being awarded a license next year.
Crown Resorts issued a statement to confirm that a mandatory vaccination policy will apply to all visitors of the group’s New South Wales and Queensland-based venues.
This includes employees, customers and contractors, and culminates a month-long consultation period that was announced in September, which saw the casino operator undertake stakeholder consultation with employees, unions, industry and business organisations.
While this will come into effect immediately in Sydney and Melbourne, Crown Perth will have until January 31 to finalise and implement the policy, which will be in line with Western Australian Public Health Directions.
While both Crown Sydney and Crown Melbourne are already complying with current public health orders, this move confirms the company’s position on mandatory vaccination for its properties until further notice.
GambleAware detailed the continued progress of an ambition of heightening awareness of its National Gambling Treatment Service.
Following awareness raising campaigns led by the charity, targeted primarily at high-risk male gamblers (PGSI 8+), the firm reported that “recognition continues to grow wave on wave”.
The latest campaign tracking study, conducted by Ipsos Mori, showed that total awareness of the service now stands at 40 per cent of all high-risk male gamblers, and 50 per cent of the “important audience” of affected others.
Moreover, the group added that the NGTS campaign reached 74 per cent amongst high-risk male gamblers in August 2021, as well as 79 per cent amongst affected others.
Increasing numbers of high-risk gamblers are also said to agree that they would contact NGTS as a first step if they had concerns about their gambling, with 60 per cent suggesting that this is the case in August 2021, which is up from 47 per cent in May 2020.
Audiences’ improved response has seen GambleAware register an increase in calls to the NGTS’ National Gambling Helpline, through both calls and online chats, which is up 41 per cent in the past two years ending March 31, 2021.
Aspire Global “will become a clearly focused B2B company and even stronger and more profitable,” Tsachi Maimon, group CEO, confidently assured upon dissection of the group’s recent B2C divestment, which is expected to close this month, and Q3 examination.
The firm says that the sale, rolled out last month with Esports Technologies for $75.9m, will enable Aspire to capitalise on the increased opportunities in “the big and quickly growing” US and Brazilian markets, noting that it has made “key progress” in both.
The comments came as the group details its Q3 and year-to-date performance for the period ending September 30, 2021, where revenue grew 46 per cent to €58.6m (2020: €40.1m), reflecting “continued good business momentum” across casino and sports and geographical expansion.