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.

During a month which ended in disappointment for millions as football did not return home after all, the long-awaited CasinoBeats Summit was staged at the Intercontinental Malta to the delight of many.

This came as Evolution and Kindred each completed a significant purchase, as a long-mooted Allied Esports sale was finally nudged over the line, and an array of CEOs elaborated on wat safer gambling means for them.

Feature of the month

An examination of safer gambling business cultures kick started the digital component of day two of the CasinoBeats Summit, as industry CEOs discussed ‘Embedding a safer gambling ethos in company culture’.

Taking the reigns of the panel, which formed part of a Synot Games sponsored ‘Leadership’ track, was James Bennett, director at Square in the Air, who was joined by Alexandre Tomic, CEO of Alea; Megan Easey, CEO at SpotGaming; Tim De Borle, CEO at Napoleon Sports & Casino; and Christopher Dalli, CEO of L&L Europe.

“I would say that first is that it’s a question of recognising at the highest level of the organisation that we are dealing, the word is quite accurate, with an addictive product, which actually can be more problematic than alcohol or drugs because it’s an addiction without a product,” Tomic began.

“There’s no product, which means that, if you have an addiction for example with any drug or alcohol, there is a product so there is a limit that your body can take, you cannot drink more than one or two litres of whisky per night. 

“You can gamble as much as you want, as deep as your pocket, and when there is no money in the pocket anymore you go and look for money. So that’s the specific problem of an addiction without a product.”

In the news

Kindred Group took up the option to acquire the remaining 66.6 per cent of outstanding shares in slots developer Relax Gaming, with the latter’s Money Train 2 also being named Slot of the Year 2021 at the inaugural CasinoBeats Game Developer Awards.

Big name M&A didn’t stop there through July, with Evolution finalising its £450m purchase of Big Time Gaming to bolster its own igaming capabilities.

Speaking of long-mooted acquisitions, Allied Esports Entertainment confirmed the long-protracted sale of the entities comprising the World Poker Tour to Element Partners for $105m.

Elsewhere, the Dutch Gaming Authority fined Malta-based N1 Interactive after finding that the group has offered games of chance to Dutch players via the website.

Furthermore, the first independent evaluation of the Gamstop online self exclusion scheme found that 82 per cent of consumers had stopped or reduced gambling since registering with the group.

The report by research consultancy Sonnet, based on surveys of more than 3,300 users as well as in-depth interviews, also discovered that 84 per cent felt safer from gambling-related harm, and more in control of their gambling, after registering with the charity.

Recommended reading

In CasinoBeats’ Future of Entertainment mini-series, Vladimir Malakchi, CCO at Evoplay, Simon Hammon, CPO at Relax Gaming, David Little, co-founder at Lightning Box and James Marshall, CEO at Push Gaming, continued to discuss the evolution of entertainment, elements of designing a game and looking into the future of entertainment.

“We’ve got two different trends in the market right now – both of which are polar opposites. Players want the gameplay experience to be quicker and have more excitement, while the regulator wants to slow things down,” Marshall stated.

Elsewhere, the CasinoBeats Summit delivered an update on the impending Dutch opportunity, Bragg Gaming elaborated on its recent pair of acquisitions, and Spribe examined the evolution of poker and looked at how an ecosystem that had “ceased to be entertaining” thrived during the pandemic.

Video of the month 

Episode 4 of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show featured colleague Grainne Hurst, Entain’s director of corporate affairs, who discussed the differences in culture, the importance of understanding that not all players are problem gamblers, and that those that play for leisure and entertainment must have a say in the future of the industry.