As yet another year ebbed away, the world clung to optimism of a full, or in certain cases maintained, return to normality, despite COVID-19 still very much dominating many a headline.

This month saw France hit record case numbers, while the UK became the first European region to surpass 150,000 before the ten PM Boris Johnson eased Omicron restrictions ten days later after saying that the current wave of infections has peaked. This sandwiched Johnson admitting to attending a ‘bring your own booze’ staff party in May 2020 during the country’s first lockdown, in a story that would rumble on.

Elsewhere, Apple became the first US company to worth $3trn after tripling price in under four years, while Australia equalled the hottest temperature on record of 50.7C (123.26F) in Onslow, Western Australia.

In the world of sport, and it was down under that dominated proceedings with the will he, won’t he question mark hanging over Novak Djokovic regarding his potential Australian Open participation. He was deported later in the month.

In the industry, the UK Gambling Commission kicked-off an unwanted trend of financial penalties, Ontario-fever gripped many and a slew of M&A activity continued to keep on trend.

Feature of the month

As Canada fever gripped many across the industry, the CasinoBeats 100 Club embraced the developments being witnessed in Ontario where a launch date of April 4 was confirmed for the regulated igaming marketplace.

This would see operators that had registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and executed an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario be permitted to begin offering games to players within the region. 

Those participating in the edition were tasked with answering: what is the potential for the soon-to-be regulated Ontario market and how enticing could it be for operators to join?

Those offering expertise included Shelley White, CEO, Responsible Gambling Council; Philip Parry, CEO at Iforium; Fiona Hickey, head of sales at Push Gaming; Magdalena Podhorska-Okolow, chief commercial officer at Authentic Gaming; and Razvan Haiduc, CEO, Armadillo Studios.

In the news

A consistent theme of recent years seemingly ramped-up throughout 2022 as M&A activity captured the attention of many an organisation and, subsequently, reader.

January got things kick-started as Take Two Interactive rolled-out a $12.7bn agreement to purchase Zynga, as Flutter Entertainment finalised its Tombola purchase in one of a number of moves made across the year.

Playtech also hit the headlines in this regard after maintaining a commitment to finalising an ultimately doomed 2.7bn absorption by Aristocrat, a path that, at the time, seemed to be cleared somewhat following the withdrawal of JKO Play.

In the UK, the Gambling Commission rolled-out a number of financial penalties, another familiar theme throughout the course of 2022, with Rank (£700,557), Annexio (612,000) and Genesis Global (£3.8m) all hit. 

The Ontarian optimism also gathered further momentum during the first month of the year, with a further province-wide COVID-19 related closure of retail establishments coming weeks ahead of April 4 being confirmed as the revised date for a regulated digital debut.

Elsewhere, readers; imaginations were also captured by Wynn Resorts’ United Arab Emirates ambitions, as well as Fontainebleau Las Vegas confirming that it was targeting the fourth quarter of 2023 for the grand opening of its then recently acquired 67-story casino and resort.

Recommended reading

January saw Evolution take its stellar ‘Eilers-Fantini Online Game Performance Report‘ showing into the new year, with the online gaming firm continuing to excel in the maiden offering of 2022.

The company’s Bonanza has maintained its place at the summit of the slots game rank charts, as well as knocking IGT’s Blackjack title off top spot in the overall table.

Elsewhere, then Yggdrasil CEO Fredrik Elmqvist and Enrico Drago, IGT’s CEO digital and betting, outlined a joint vision for their fresh collaboration, while the challenge of maintaining a balance between work and personal came under the spotlight by Cordelia Morgan-Cooper.

Video of the month

“We didn’t know that we were that attractive,” said Tsachi Maimon, CEO of Aspire Global, after being quizzed on an acquisitive approach by NeoGames that saw the latter look to create “a leading global provider in interactive content”.

This capped a busy few months for a group that had previously entered into, and finalised, the $75.9m sale of its B2C division to Esports Technologies, and also gained a 25 per cent stake in bingo supplier End 2 End for $1.75m with an option to acquire all remaining shares in three or five-years time.