As a year in which normality has returned for many draws to a close, and increasingly fleeting glances begin to be taken towards what lies ahead, CasinoBeats is once again revisiting an unexpected 12 months full of ups, downs, and everything in between.

Like much of the past two years or so the pandemic continued to be a key theme throughout 2021, with May seeing England continue to loosen restrictions as adult gaming centres, bingo halls and casinos reopened on May 17.

During a month which saw digital events continue, with the CasinoBeats Slots Festival enjoyed by many, headlines from William Hill, Great Canadian Gaming, LeoVegas, and Bragg Gaming, among others, hit the news. 

Feature of the month

After commencing a long-awaited licensing window on April 1, the Kansspelautoriteit revealed that it has received 28 individual operator applications to join Dutch gambling’s new regulated online gambling marketplace.

Due to officially commence from October 1, 2021, to much industry anticipation, Rene Jansen, Ksa chairperson, stressed that “the intention of the law is to channel players from illegal providers to legally reliable providers”.

With a little over a month having passed since the Remote Gambling Act came into force following the debut of its digital licensing application portal, Mario Benito, chief commercial officer at R Franco Group, Sylvain Boniver, COO at Gaming1, and Alexia Smilovic Rønde, chief regulatory officer at Relax Gaming, dissected a multitude of key issues.

In the news

May saw broadcasters urged to suspend all UEFA European Football Championship based gambling advertising for the duration of the tournament, by a group of over 60 survivors of gambling harm, MPs, and clinicians.

The open letter, organised by The Big Step, formed part of the Gambling with Lives charity, had been sent to ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Sports, BT Sport, TalkSport, Global Radio, Acast, and Stakhanov.

The bidding contest for the remaining UK and European assets of UK high street and online betting operator William Hill was also initiated, with Apollo Global Management, 888, Kindred, and Betfred, all mooted as early contenders.

LeoVegas pulled back the curtain on Blue Guru Games during the month, with the group’s new games studio aiming to deploy its first titles during the latter stages of this year.

Elsewhere, Bragg Gaming detailed a $30m cash and stock Spin Games transaction that it said would serve to immediately establish its US operating footprint, and set the foundation for the company’s growth strategy in the region.

Furthermore, Great Canadian Gaming detailed further approvals for its impending buyout by Raptor Acquisition, an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, while the casino evaluation panel in Richmond, Virginia, recommended that the One Casino + Resort move forward as its preferred casino gaming operator.

Recommended reading

Amid the industry talk of land-based closures, significant online uptick and retail only businesses being left behind, Ben McDonagh, CEO of Green Jade Games, looked at what employers had learned during this time? What could be done to counter potential overworking and burnout? And how has more effective communication been adopted?

The CasinoBeats 100 Club also boasted double representation with mobile once more forming a central focus for many, and Helen Walton, COO at Glück Games, becoming the second participant in the then newly introduced pathways series.

Moreover, on a special edition of the Double Espresso Show with Rasmus Sojmark, Yggdrasil Gaming CEO Fredrik Elmqvist and Swintt CCO David Mann both highlighted the dangers of players moving to black market operators if slots become less entertaining.

Videos of the month 

In conversation with CasinoBeats Editor Craig Davies, Yahale Meltzer, chief operating officer of Groove Gaming, emphasised the need of meeting the needs of the market and traffic demands, with Jesper Kärrbrink, chair of Green Jade Games, detailing how key it is to keep offering the unexpected.

Lenin Castillo, COO, Logrand Entertainment,  spoke to Kelly Kehn, Global Relationships Director, SBC to discuss the growth of online in LatAm and the region’s huge potential.