Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. A £4m gambling harms research centre, further UK Gambling Commission fines, MGM Las Vegas purchase, and a strengthening of Sweden’s online gambling ecosystem al feature in our latest throwback to a selection of last week’s headlines.
Jumpman Gaming and Progress Play paid a combined total of $675,000 in regulatory settlements after UK Gambling Commission investigations discovered social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures.
This saw the former, which runs 243 websites, pay the lion’s share of £500,000, while Progress Play, which boasts 201 digital gambling entities, was penalised $175,718.
The inquiry into Jumpman Gaming, undertaken between February and July 2020, found failings in the implementation of anti-money laundering policies, procedures and controls, as well as deficiencies in its responsible gambling policies, procedures, controls and practices, including weaknesses in implementation.
The regulator also found failings in Progress Play’s processes aimed at preventing money laundering and protecting vulnerable people.
A £4m Gambling Harms Research Centre launched at the University of Bristol is aiming to transform research into the field by welcoming fresh disciplines and building research capacity in Britain and internationally.
The academic centre is to address issues through what it dubbed as “cutting-edge research” that will look to deepen understanding, raise awareness, and strengthen consumer protection in physical and online environments, as well as improve support and treatment.
Moreover, questions that will look to be addressed by the hub, which will be spearheaded by “renowned multidisciplinary research expert,” include how is gambling practised, what initiates harmful gambling, and the role social inequalities play in exacerbating harms.
BOS, the Swedish trade association for online gambling, expressed that it is “cautiously optimistic” of an array of proposals put forward by the country’s government in a bid to strengthen gambling regulation.
One aspect of this would bring the implementation of B2B licences that would take effect from July 1, 2023, with a variety of further measures to come into force from January 1, 2023.
In a proposal that has been submitted to the Riksdag, the highest decision-making assembly in Sweden, it is also suggested that a ban on the promotion of illegal gambling, and an extension of that regarding unlicensed activities, be introduced to increase the possibilities of preventing illegal gambling activities.
It is also put forward that an adjusted requirement for moderation in the marketing of games be approved, which it is hoped would further shield children, young people and individuals with gambling problems.
Furthermore the bill also proposes that the law on the organisation of certain slot machines be repealed, and that the Riksdag approve the termination of the agreement between Sweden and Finland on slot machines on passenger ships in regular scheduled services between the countries. This would enter into force on a date determined by the government.
888 is looking to finalise its purchase of the non-US business of William Hill by the close of June, after shareholders approved the deal.
Following the conclusion of its extraordinary general meeting, the gambling group disclosed that 99.73 per cent of shareholder votes cast were in favour of the takeover, representing 306,997,411. In contrast, 819,264 (0.27per cent) voted against, with the remaining 18,306 abstaining.
Finalisation of the acquisition is now expected “on or around” June 30, 2022, alongside re-admission of 888’s share capital for listing on the premium listing segment of the Financial Conduct Authority’s official list and to trade on the LSE main market.
GAN reiterated its financial expectations for 2022 as the group looks to build upon “an encouraging start” by delivering “significant” year-on-year growth.
Record revenue for the three months ending March 31, 2022, came in at $37.5m, up 38 per cent from $27.1m YoY due to what is billed as a “strong increase” across both of the B2B and B2C segments.
The former of these narrowed 2.3 per cent to $13.1m (2021: $12.8m), with B2C up 70.6 per cent to finish Q1 at $24.4m (2021: $14.3m) driven by the Coolbet sports betting and online casino brand.
Gross profit increased 40.2 per cent due to the aforementioned “strong growth in revenue” to close at $25.8m (2021: $18.4m), with net loss narrowing from $5.6m one year ago to $4.5m.
Adjusted EBITDA swelled to $3m (2021: $500,000), with the primary driver reported as higher revenues and lower operating expenses as a percentage of this.
MGM Resorts added Las Vegas’ The Cosmopolitan to its US gaming network after finalising the $1.625bn acquisition of the property’s operations from Blackstone.
Following the close of the transaction, the casino and entertainment operator entered into a 30-year lease agreement with three 10-year renewal options.
This will see MGM pay an initial annual rent of $200m, escalating annually at two per cent for the first 15 years and the greater of two per cent or the CPI increase (capped at three per cent) thereafter.
In the 12 months ending March 31, 2022, The Cosmopolitan generated $1.1bn of net revenue and $416m of adjusted EBITDAR.
The Advertising Standards Authority elaborated on its pending introduction of “tougher content restrictions on gambling ads” in a bid to safeguard young people and vulnerable audiences.
These fresh rules, which will come into effect on October 1, 2022, are to represent a step-change from the existing directives that gambling ads must not be of ‘particular appeal’ to children.
This latest introduction states that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.”
Andy Taylor, Regulatory Policy Executive at the CAP, commented: “A ‘strong’ appeal test prohibits content including imagery, themes and characters that have a strong level of appeal to under-18s.
“Under these new rules gambling advertisers won’t be able to use sports people, reality TV stars and references to video games well known to under-18s, even if they also appeal strongly to adults.
“In practice, this will significantly restrict the imagery and references that gambling ads will be allowed to use and should decrease the potential for gambling ads to attract the attention of under-18s.”
Aristocrat is pursuing opportunities to accelerate its ‘build and buy’ real money gaming strategy as the group looks to become the “leading gaming platform” across the industry.
This blueprint was first detailed earlier in the year and is to see Aristocrat “invest strongly” in building its online RMG infrastructure while pursuing M&A, partnerships and talent acquisition to drive its ambitions forward further still.
These comments came as the company detailed a 23.1 per cent uptick in operating revenue during the six months ending March 31, 2022, to A$2.74bn (2021: A$2.22bn), driven by organic growth across Aristocrat Gaming and Pixel United, formerly the group’s digital division.
Normalised profit after tax increased 46.5 per cent to A$530.7m (2021: A$362.2m) despite mixed operating conditions and supply chain disruptions, with EBITDA up 30.3 per cent to A$970.3m (2021: A$744.5m).