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.

September saw the momentum of physical events continue as 450 companies from across the industry represented at the SBC Summit Barcelona, including key decision makers from 200 of the world’s largest sportsbook, online casino and lottery operators. 

The month also saw Lottoland penalised by the UK Gambling Commission, the Dutch regulator confirm the first players in its legalised market, and M&A continue its ongoing trend.

Feature of the month

An ambition of becoming “a brilliant, forward-thinking gaming company” was once again stressed by Scientific Games, as the group, alongside Lightning Box, reflected on the former’s purchase of the Sydney-based slots studio.

The deal was praised as a “key step forward” in Scientific Games’ aim of becoming a content-led sustainable growth company, and follows the firm’s June announcement of divestments of both its lottery and sports betting businesses.

As Lightning Box became the group’s first acquisition for five years in the igaming space, Dylan Slaney, SVP of gaming and digital at Scientific Games, and Peter Causley, CEO and co-founder of Lightning Box, reflected on how the stars aligned for the agreement to come to fruition, what it means for each business, key jurisdiction’s of focus, on future M&A potential.

In the news

In the first of two UKGC news articles to feature, September saw EU Lotto, the operator of lottery betting and sweepstake firm Lottoland, hit with a £760,000 fine by the regulator for anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings.

Furthermore, conscious of the review of the Gambling Act 2005 being undertaken by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group launched an inquiry into the competence and effectiveness of the regulator of British gambling.

This was said to be done after receiving “numerous criticisms” from members of the industry, with the group adding that the comments made about the UKGC in reports issued by the Public Accounts Committee, National Audit Office and House of Lords Select Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of the Gambling Industry in 2020 did not cover the full breadth of the allegations they have heard.

As the Dutch gaming authority confirmed the first ten entrants of the country’s legalised online gambling market, LeoVegas, Betsson, and Kindred Group reaffirmed their commitment to the Netherlands, and outlined what each believed to be a potential route to market.

The region, which debuted it’s digital ecosystem from midnight on Friday 1 October, saw numerous entities stop accepting Dutch consumers across their sites, ahead of a future objective of operating under the new regime.

On the continuous M&A theme, Bally’s confirmed October 1 as the date that its Gamesys acquisition would become finalised, MGM entered into a definitive agreement with Blackstone to gain the operations of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and the long mooted sale of Finalto, Playtech’s financial services division, neared an end.

Recommended reading

Operator game lobbies are changing with the addition of new and innovative content. From Megaways to XtraWays, developers are creating mechanics, features and formats designed to engage the next generation of player and deliver new and exciting experiences to existing customers. 

At the cutting edge of this push are skill-based arcade games, which combine real-money wagering with gameplay more akin to mobile and video games. They are proving to be hugely popular with a range of player demographics, taking session times and game revenues to new highs. 

In a two-part roundtable, Ben McDonagh, CEO of Green Jade Games, Shalva Bukia, product director at Spribe, and Lloyd Purser, COO of FunFair, took a closer look at skill-based arcade games, the demographics they appeal to and how operators can leverage the full potential they have to offer.

Videos of the month

Opening the SBC Summit Barcelona, Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen talked about her vision of building a customer-led entertainment platform.

The latest episode of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet show sees a conversation undertaken alongside Cam Adair, the founder of Game Quitters, the world’s largest support community for video game addiction.