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.

Despite months of optimism by many, November saw many fears realised a fourth wave of COVID-19 caused countries to impose added restrictions or lockdown, and many more realising the need to follow suit after the first detection of what we all now know as the Omicron variant.

Taking a brief look over industry actions during November, and embattled casino operator Crown Resorts continued its transformation, Scientific Games continue to enhance its igaming proposition, and Playtech saw one prospective suitor drop-out of the race to acquire the company while another joined.

Feature of the month

The ferocious pace at which the industry continues to advance and develop is not lost on anyone, however, it is nonetheless a challenge that is confronted and embraced by many individuals the world over.

Any one of a multitude of occurrences can bring a sudden change of tact, or similar such action, an array of which were evident across a number of European jurisdictions.

To shine a light over a handful of such events, we spoke to Phil Manzi, director of markets at Casumo, who elaborated on growth in locally regulated markets, the seemingly never ending wave of fresh igaming titles, and the casino operator’s outlook when it comes to sporting sponsorships. 

It is with the latter where we started, and with such backlash being evident, not just in the UK but across an array of markets, Manzi began by touching upon the company’s current plans when it comes to such partnerships.

“The trend we’re seeing in regulated markets is towards more and more sponsorship restrictions,” he begins. “In Spain, a market we launched earlier this year, we have already seen drastic changes in the sponsorship space. 

“In the UK, there have been consultations on the subject. In response to these movements, we have already transitioned from being the main kit sponsor to an official partnership with Reading FC.”

In the news

Evolution detailed that it had reached out to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and initiated an internal review, following allegations made 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.

Blackstone Group revived its interest in embattled Australian casino operator Crown Resorts, returning with an offer of A$12.50 per share which valued the company at A8.5bn ($6.2bn), as the group continued its business transformation. The proposal was rejected due to a perceived undervaluation.

Playtech confirmed that it has received a preliminary approach from a third suitor that is looking to acquire the gambling tech firm, with JKO Play, led by former Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordan and Keith O’Loughlin, ex-Scientific Games, said to be evaluating a competing offer. 

One day later Gopher Investments announced that it did not intend to make an offer for Playtech, after it was confirmed that it had previously made a preliminary approach to the gambling tech firm.

Elsewhere, William Hill detailed the impending closure of its Eurogrand, 21 Nova and William Hill Casino Club online casino entities, with the company stressing that the strategic decision was made as part of a “continuous” brand evaluation.

In M&A, Scientific Games advanced its global igaming ambitions with the purchase of Authentic Gaming, as rumoured swirled of a $1bn takeover of Olympic Entertainment Group by Entain.

Recommended reading

“Don’t let Hollywood fool you, casinos aren’t as perfect as they want you to think,” those were the words on Matthieu Clas, CEO of HookMotion, upon dissecting how much of an issue unwanted behaviours are for land-based gaming establishments.

As technological advancements continuously evolve across numerous industries on a global scale, the company is looking to utilise the latest advancements in machine learning and computer vision technology to create profit maximising solutions for casinos. 

Here, Clas talks to CasinoBeats about the HookMotion operation, how advancements in technology are driving innovation being brought to the casino floor, and what the future has in store.

Furthermore, following in the footsteps of one of its most popular slot titles, Sweet Bonanza, we spoke with Julian Jarvis, chief executive officer at Pragmatic Play, to find out more about the group’s eagerly awaited title.

Videos of the month 

In the latest episode of Now That’s What I Call Slots, SlotBeats is joined by Dan Nyman, Black Pudding Games’ co-founder, who offered a guide through the soundwaves and tubes of the company’s most recent slot title Atomic Reactor.