Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. A further Entain purchase, Crown’s long awaited Sydney gaming debut, a slew of financial updates and a UKGC penalty all feature in our latest headline recap.
The UK Gambling Commission issued a £630,000 financial penalty to Smarkets after an investigation discovered a number of anti-money laundering and social responsibility shortcomings.
The online gambling operator received the financial penalty after it was found that customers were permitted to gamble without adequate source of funds checks being carried out, as well as failing to identify and interact with those at risk of experiencing harm.
In addition to the aforementioned figure, Smarkets also received a formal warning and will undergo an audit to ensure it is effectively implementing AML and social responsibility policies, procedures and controls.
Entain rolled-out a designated growth strategy for Central and Eastern Europe that kicked-off with the €800m purchase of Croatian online casino and sports betting operator Supersport.
This came alongside the establishment of Entain CEE, whose ownership is split 75 per cent to 25 per cent between the former GVC and Emma Capital, and takes Entain’s total transactions for the year-to-date to five.
The deal is for an initial consideration of €800m, of which €600m is payable in cash on completion that is expected to occur in the fourth quarter.
Entain CEE, which is praised as a “springboard” for expansion across the region, will be led by Radim Haluza, Supersport CEO. Any future potential payments to Emma Capital will be based on the performance of the business through to 2024.
Crown Resorts finally commenced gaming operations, albeit on a VIP only basis, as the group’s A$2.2bn (US$1.7bn) Crown Sydney Hotel Resort.
Following an approximate 18 month wait after licence suspension in early 2021, the firm was offered conditional gaming approval by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority last month.
This enabled the firm to open its members only gaming facilities located at the casino under an initial conditional period that is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2023.
Crown commenced “intimate gaming operations” that are set over what the company says are “two luxurious floors,” Crystal Room and Mahogany Room, with an additional 12 exclusive private sky salons located on levels 28 and 29. The form has opened today, before the latter debuts at a later date.
This comes after the 2021 Bergin Inquiry deemed Crown as an unsuitable licence holder, following which a series of investigations were launched across Australian state’s which uncovered an array of failings.
Evolution officially added yet more depth to its online casino development capabilities after the acquisition of Nolimit City officially closed.
With all regulatory approvals that the transaction was conditional upon having been received, Evolution has finalised the deal that contained the provision of an upfront consideration of €200m.
The purchase also contains a number of earn-outs that could amount to €140m, which could nudge the total consideration towards €340m, payable in cash.
Upon the deal initially being disclosed in June, Jens von Bahr, Chair of Evolution, stressed excitement at adding a suite of “truly innovative and cutting edge games”.
Craig Billings, CEO of Wynn Resorts, voiced further confidence in the group’s UAE prospects, as ongoing difficulties across Macau continue to hinder the operator through Q2 and beyond.
The year thus far has been “very different in Macau than it has been in North America” noted Billings in a Q2 earnings call, with the “very difficult market” seeing gross gaming revenue in July only reaching around two per cent of levels encountered in July 2019.
Overall, EBITDA loss for the group through April to June was $90m, while post Q2, due to an almost two-week marketwide casino closure in July, that loss “has been comparable at approximately $1m per day quarter to date in Q3”.
“Our folks in Macau have endured what I know is a difficult period of isolation and volatility while our teams in Las Vegas and Boston have responded admirably to meaningfully elevated business volumes,” said Billings.
LeoVegas is maintaining its sports betting focus, and is intending to enter into “several football sponsorships” in the near future, following what is dubbed as “an eventful quarter”.
Following the Expekt and BetUK sportsbook-led brands gaining record revenue through Q2, the group is aiming to enhance its global reach across the sports wagering segment.
“We intend to enter into several football sponsorships in the near future,” said Gustaf Hagman, President and CEO of LeoVegas.
“This is expected to provide us with a global reach to a relevant and partly new target group, and we are able to produce unique content with the clubs and their players, which should attract new customers and increase loyalty among existing customers.”
“Creating and leveraging great games continues to be the core of our strategy and our success,” asserted Barry Cottle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Light & Wonder, on a second quarter earnings call.
Elaborating on what is labelled as a “pivotal year” for the company, Cottle further emphasises that “no one else can match our wealth of great franchises or our ability to deliver great games to players anywhere they want to play”.
Cottle also noted the “significant progress” being made on transforming the company, in addition to seeing successes on its 2022 roadmap that led to a “strong operating performance” through Q2.
“When you look at what we’ve accomplished, you see clear evidence of our ability to deliver on the promise of transforming our company and to drive significant value for our shareholders,” it was said.
Catena Media expanded its strategic review relating to its European business as the company aims to achieve annual savings of €5m.
Aiming to pursue annualised savings in operational and capital expenditures, the firm will start reviewing its European product portfolio and cost base, while entering into a formal consultation process for potentially affect UK, and Malta-based, roles.
The review comes after the European business, which consists of online sports betting and casino affiliation assets acquired prior to mid-2018, faced an array of challenges relating to regulatory changes in markets such as the UK, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.
Furthermore, the company stated that the challenges also reflect the “general market developments” in Europe, which have specifically affected casino operations.