Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. M&A activity across IGT, Entain, Yolo Investments and 888, upheld penalty fees in Sweden, and further bad news for Crown Resorts all feature as we glance back to a selection of last week’s headlines.
International Game Technology closed the €160m acquisition of iSoftBet, paid for in cash, which will see the company more than double its content library.
Increasing its IGT PlayDigital catalogue to approximately 225 proprietary games, the firm entered into a definitive agreement in April this year to purchase the Malta-based games developer and online casino solutions provider.
The completion of the acquisition will also see IGT’s interactive arm expand its inventory through the addition of iSoftBet’s proprietary-built aggregation platform, which will allow the company to distribute third-party games to clients.
Entain reaffirmed that M&A “continues to be a key part of our growth” as the group’s BetCity acquisition edges towards completion amid a weaker macroeconomic environment reducing customer spend through the first half of the year.
Addressing an array of issues in a trading update investor call, Jette Nygaard-Anderson, Entain CEO, suggested that “the pipeline of opportunities remains exciting” following a Dutch manoeuvre earlier this month.
As Rob Wood, CFO and Deputy CEO at Entain, echoed the sentiments, Nygaard-Anderson noted that BetCity “gives us a strong foothold before re-entry of our brands, Bwin and Party.
“It also basically leaves our leverage in a good place so there’s still room to invest. So, we are as active as ever on M&A and remain really excited about our pipeline,” she said.
As an avalanche of ministers headed to the exit in the UK, including Chris Philp, DCMS Minister for Tech and Digital, ahead of a resignation by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (Thursday 7 July), talk inevitably turned towards a Gambling Act white paper delay or even potential amendments.
“I think on the GAR, listen, I’ve adjusted my notes on the white paper on the GAR the last 24 hours for this call,” Nygaard-Anderson continued.
“And we don’t know when it will come out. It’s probably unlikely that it comes out before the summer recess [July 21 to September 5]”.
South Australia’s Liquor and Gambling regulator cited a “number of the matters raised to date” that it says highlighted “broader systemic issues within the casino industry,” upon launching an independent review of operations in the state.
In light of investigations being undertaken elsewhere, the SA regulator is commissioning an independent review of SkyCity Adelaide to determine if the group is suitable to retain its casino licence.
Crown Resorts recently gained approval to commence gaming operations at the A$2.2bn (US$1.7bn) Crown Sydney Hotel Resort, after the group had previously been found unsuitable in New South Wales, Western Australia, and Victoria.
Elsewhere, Star Entertainment is awaiting the results of a probe in NSW, while a fellow investigation in the Sunshine State is set to get underway.
Retired Supreme Court Judge Brian Martin is to lead the review, with a report due back to the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner by February 1, 2023.
Yolo Investments purchased an undisclosed interest in German-based game developer Apparat Gaming during the latter’s first round of investment.
Adding to its roster of more than 55 investments in other companies – including Green Jade Games, Turbo Games and Kalamba – the Guernsey-based firm’s Founder and General Partner, Tim Heath, stated how impressed he was at Apparat’s “remarkable visibility in a very short space of time”.
He commented: “We’re always on the lookout for startups with a passion for evolution, and Apparat ticks that box. At Yolo, we have a ‘people first’ attitude and we recognise that Apparat has put together an amazing team of creative individuals with a 360-degree understanding of the industry. We’re delighted to be part of their developing story.”
A trio of 2019 penalty fees that stand at a combined total of SEK 23.2m (£1.84m) and were issued to SkillOnNet, Betway and Betfair, were upheld after Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court did not grant leave to appeal.
In all three cases appeals had been previously lodged with the Administrative Court and the Court of Appeal, both of which were rejected, before further attempts at the Supreme Administrative Court were lodged.
In the former of these cases, SkillOnNet, which is permitted to offer an array of igaming entities in the country, was issued with a warning and a penalty fee of SEK 14m (£1.11m) on June 27, 2019.
On the same date a little over three years ago, Betfair received a warning and a SEK 4.5m (£357,158) penalty from the Swedish Gambling Authority for permitting betting on participants under 18 years of age.
One month earlier, Betway was issued with a similar warning as well as a penalty fee of SEK 4.7m (£373,031) for what the Spelinspektionen described at the time as a violation of “legislation by offering their customers bonuses on repeated occasions”.
Crown Melbourne will undergo a second round of disciplinary proceedings in relation to its alleged responsible gambling failures.
Conducted by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, and coming less than two months after it was fined A$80m, the gambling regulator has requested information from Crown on its responsible service of gambling obligations.
The disciplinary proceedings are also said, according to the VGCCC, to be a result of findings by the Royal Commission, which included “not adequately supervising or interacting with hundreds or possibly thousands of customers who exhibited signs of problem or risky gambling.”
This allegedly included a case of a female player who was allowed to gamble at the Crown Melbourne property for 96 hours straight.
888 completed the divestment of its entire B2C and B2B bingo businesses to Saphalata Holdings, a member of the Broadway Gaming group.
The transaction, which was initially detailed in December 2021, is for a total cash consideration of $45.25m (£37.4m), with $43.25m payable on completion and a further $2m unconditionally due in one year.
The business, which is substantially UK-based, generated gaming revenue of approximately $25m (£19m) in H1 2022, and an estimated $54m (£41m) during the last twelve months.