Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Our latest look back a selection of last week’s headlines features a New York update, the ongoing Playtech pursuit, UKGC penalty packages, and an Aspire Global buyout.
Rank Digital Gaming and Annexio were penalised and paid a total of £1.3m, after the UK Gambling Commission discovered social responsibility failures at the pair.
The former, which counts Bella Casino, Grosvenor Casino, Mecca Bingo and Mecca Games as part of its stable, saw the faults identified in the group’s processes aimed at protecting vulnerable people
The group was issued with a £700,557 payment in lieu of a financial penalty, which will be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, as well as covering the Commission’s costs relating to its investigation.
Annexio, trading as LottoGo, also saw an investigation trigger a regulatory review of its licence, which found failings in its processes that were aimed at preventing money laundering and protecting vulnerable people.
In addition to a payment towards UKGC costs, Annexio’s settlement consisted of a payment of £612,000, which included a £112,000 divestment and £500,000 penal element, in lieu of a financial penalty, which will also be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.
NeoGames is striving to create “a leading global provider in interactive content,” after the Luxembourg-based group detailed its acquisitive interest in Aspire Global.
This saw a proposed transaction of approximately $480m, equivalent to SEK 4.3bn representing SEK 91.03 per share, be recommended to shareholders of the bid committee of the B2B igaming technology solutions provider.
NeoGames is offering to acquire all the outstanding shares of Aspire via a combination of cash for 50 per cent of shares at a price of SEK 111 each, and equity consideration for the remaining portion.
This, the group said, consists of 7.6 million newly-issued shares in NeoGames, which is equal to an exchange ratio of 0.32 shares in NeoGames per one in Aspire.
JKO Play has officially withdrawn from the Playtech takeover race, in a decision which clears the way for Aristocrat after Australian-listed gaming manufacturer tabled a £2.7bn proposal in October 2021.
Prior overtures had also been teased by Gopher Investments, a 4.97 per cent shareholder that purchased the Finalto financial service division of Playtech in December, a move that met one of the key conditions of Aristocrat’s prospective buyout of the firm.
However, one month earlier it was confirmed that JKO, led by former Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordan and ex-Scientific Games executive Keith O’Loughlin, had become a third potential suitor of Playtech, as reports swirled that a £3bn counterbid could be in the pipeline. Gopher withdrew its acquisitive interests one day after JKO’s intentions became clear.
Earlier this month, after it was confirmed this week that a Playtech shareholder meetings to approve the Aristocrat offer would be adjourned to February 2, 2022, JKO received an extended deadline to announce a firm intention to make an offer or withdraw. This was set at 5pm on January 26, 2022, from its prior cut-off point at the same time on January 5, 2022.
Despite rumours swirling that the group had secured financial backing in its pursuit, JKO, a 0.51 per cent shareholder in Playtech, has now confirmed that it “does not intend to make an offer”.
GeoComply reflected on a “remarkable start” by New York’s much anticipated sports wagering debut this month, with a total of 1.2 million accounts reportedly created across the five sportsbooks authorised for action thus far.
The region’s Gaming Commission had originally cleared Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Rush Street Interactive, for launch on Saturday 8 January, with BetMGM subsequently joining the fray last week.
Data compiled by the group shows that these active accounts have been created by 878,000 unique players, which it said is more than New Jersey and Pennsylvania combined.
The group added that cannibalising concerns were also eased somewhat, with data showing that 9.3 per cent of players within New York had previously placed bets within the neighbouring Garden State.
Furthermore, GeoComply noted that 770,840, or 87.8 per cent, of players have never been seen before within its systems, and are therefore new to regulated online sports betting.
BetMGM is anticipating a slew of new market entrances, as well as an additional $450m investment, through the current year, following a 2021 which has been said to have surpassed management expectations.
Ahead of what is dubbed a “critical year” in “paving the way for the next phase of the sector’s financial evolution,” Adam Greenblatt, CEO of BetMGM, has praised the sports betting and online casino platform in “executing our plan with purpose, passion and discipline”.
The MGM Resorts and Entain joint venture scored net revenue of $850m during the past year, which it states is “ahead of management expectations and up nearly five times from prior year”.
However, 2021 EBITDA loss is expected to fall into the $420m-$440m boundary, but the pair anticipate reaching positive EBITDA in 2023 based on its current assumption of future live markets.
BetMGM is also reported as achieving a 20 per cent to 25 per cent market share across both aforementioned verticals, in line with its long-term target.
The Spelinspektionen noted that it holds “no objections” on the reintroduction of temporary gaming liability measures in Sweden in light of an increased spread of COVID-19.
The Swedish Gaming Authority stated that due to the current rapid spread, which saw the country introduce stricter infection control measures last week, means that the circumstances which brought an initial introduction “is now again considered to exist”.
However, despite acknowledging that it therefore “has no objections to the government reintroducing temporary liability measures similar to those previously in force pandemic,” the SGA noted that it its “too early” to comment on the effects that each has had.
Earlier this month, Sweden’s ministry of finance submitted a memorandum calling for the reintroduction, which it proposed would enter into force on February 7, 2022, until the end of June. It is added that they only be introduced “if it is deemed necessary in view of the current situation”.
The Betting and Gaming Council commented that a recent YouGov poll regarding the subject of affordability checks is a ‘wake up call’ for legislators.
The poll, which targeted bettors, revealed that 16 per cent stated that they would welcome affordability checks, with a much larger number of respondents, 58 per cent, rejecting them.
However, a further 59 per cent of bettors asserted that government-imposed investigations into customer finances in order to place a bet would lead to a “large or substantial risk” of customers shifting to the black market.