Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today, we take a look at potential M&A transactions, Sweden’s Q3 performance, William Hill closures, and a potential Chicago casino.
Evolution has reached out to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and initiated an internal review, following allegations made last week by a New Jersey law firm that it breached US sanctions.
This came via a Bloomberg report that law firm Calcagni & Kanefsky had filed a complaint by an ‘anonymous competitor’ to the state regulator alleging that Evolution had breached US laws by conducting business in countries such as Iran. It was further claimed that the group had lost $3bn of market value.
“Those allegations originate from an anonymous third party with what appears to be an intention to discredit Evolution,” a statement issued by the firm, which it said was done to clarify its business model, responsibilities, and way of operating, declared.
Evolution, which had previously issued a statement denying the accusations, reasserted that it sold its certified content to licensed operators and aggregators, in which it had no control over how games would be used by partners. Adding that it held no direct engagement with players or involvement in payment transactions.
It is the operator’s responsibility to conduct a KYC on each player, decide what markets to focus on, what players to accept, and to comply with their regulation and their license, the statement continued.
The UK Gambling Commission has “the leadership to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead,” asserted Sarah Gardner, deputy chief executive officer of the regulator, at last week’s 2021 Annual Bacta Convention.
Following reflections on “quick, uncompromising and necessary action” taken during recent times during the challenges times endured by many, Gardner called for closer industry collaboration amid a declaration that the UKGC “is coming out of this year more focussed than ever before on our remit to make gambling fairer, safer and crime free”.
“The Gambling Commission will continue to be relentless in investigating and taking action against operators who don’t meet our standards,” Gardner continued after touching upon the £100m in penalty packages, and ten operator licenses revoked, that has been evidenced since 2017/18.
For industry standards to be elevated further still, it is noted, quicker progress can be delivered “if we can collaborate with the industry as opposed to merely punishing failings”.
“And all of those improvements started from a call for collaboration. This is the relationship we want with industry in the pursuit of ever fairer and safer gambling,” Gardner stated.
“We want to get to that, we want to get to a place where the level of harm caused by gambling is reducing, helped by a constructive and collaborative relationship with industry.”
Entain is allegedly preparing a $1bn (€890m) takeover of Olympic Entertainment Group, according to Bloomberg.
Citing “sources who wish not to be identified, as the information is private,” a takeover of OEG would see Entain become the outright market leader within the Baltic gambling markets of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in which OEG operates 100 Olympic Casino points and its flagship betting brand OlyBet. Neither Entain or OEG issued statements acknowledging any deal developments.
The alleged takeover proposal would see Entain strengthen its Baltic presence following its €370m buyout of Enlabs, adding OEG’s primary online gambling rival Opitbet to its European brand portfolio.
The sale of OEG had been deemed as a likely outcome following the collapse of owner Novalpina Capital. In 2018, Novalpina acquired OEG from company founder Armin Karu and business partner Jaan Korpusov for €300m.
Chicago elaborated on each of the five proposals that are competing to be awarded with a casino owner’s licence within the city, after concluding a request for proposals process.
Five motions have been received by the city, with each looking to operate a temporary casino for up to 24 months (subject to a 12-month extension) and, thereafter, a permanent casino located in Chicago. Applicants selected through the RFP process then must apply to the state for the owner’s license and meet the licensing requirements.
“The caliber of the proposals from Bally’s Corporation, HR Chicago, Rivers Chicago at McCormick and Rivers Gaming are in line with our vision to develop a world-class experience in Chicago that will drive significant economic growth and employment opportunities for our communities,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“Each proposal provides a unique vision for what Chicago’s casino-resort could look like, and our expert review committees are ready to dive into discussions to usher in a new and exciting era for our city.”
William Hill detailed the impending closure of a trifecta of the group’s online casino entities, stressing that the strategic decision was made as part of a “continuous” brand evaluation.
The gambling group confirmed that the brands in question are Eurogrand, 21 Nova and William Hill Casino Club, with the closure also detailed in an email communication to affiliates.
Here, William Hill said that following a “period of review” the company is to “focus on our William Hill and Mr Green brands,” adding that there are “no plans to streamline our portfolio further and we remain committed to our core brands”.
In the email, the firm disclosed that it will remove all marketing material for the trio on Friday 26 November, before ceasing to accept new customers from Monday 29 November.
Following this, customers will have until Monday 24 January, 2021, to play or withdraw the remaining balances, before Eurogrand, William Hill Casino Club and 21Nova no longer offer services or products. Affiliates were asked to remove all promotions related to the three “with immediate effect”.
Licensed gaming companies in Sweden scored revenue of SEK 6.32bn (£523.82m) through the year’s third quarter, up 4.7 per cent year-on-year from SEK 6.04bn but down 2.9 per cent from Q2’s SEK 6.52bn.
This saw the country’s online ecosystem once again offset declines mostly felt within the country’s land-based ecosystem, with physical casinos only permitted to reopen during the July-September reporting period following a prolonged period of closure.
The third quarter of the year saw online betting and gaming record a fractional quarterly decrease to SEK 3.9bn (Q2: SEK 4.11bn), however, year-on-year the segment increased from SEK 3.7bn.
Svenska Spel’s lottery and Vegas slots lines saw revenue drop on both a yearly and quarterly basis, after coming in at SEK 1.38bn from the second quarter’s SEK 1.4bn and 2020’s 1.47bn.
Charitable lotteries’ Q3 increased 4.1 per cent YoY from SEK 771m to SEK 803m (Q2: SEK 941m), with restaurant casinos closing the period at SEK 47m (2020: SEK 8m & Q2: SEK 49m), as COVID-19 protocols eased within the country. Bingo remained consistent after coming in at SEK 46m (2020: SEK 47m & Q2: SEK 46m).
The Casino Cosmopol land-based casinos finished up at SEK 132m, resulting in the first revenue scored after five straight quarters of recording a zero due to closure to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.