As we near the end of a year filled with ups and downs, the world looked forward to seeing the back of COVID-19 restrictions while the Russo-Ukranian crisis dominated headlines. 

Despite the global pandemic nearing a means to an end, the virus was still ever present in the news throughout the month of March as the UK ended all remaining restrictions on international travel. 

The conflict in eastern-Europe was at the forefront of everyone’s minds, with this month signifying a global movement towards punishing Russian Oligarchs for their connection to the Kremlin. 

Most notably, Roman Abramovich was stripped of his ownership of Chelsea football club with whom he had won every major trophy in a tenure spanning over two decades, as all his assets within the UK were frozen. 

Elsewhere in the sporting world, Beijing became the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Paralympics whilst Russia and Belarus were banned from the Winter competition for their involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. 

In the industry, the UKGC had a busy month as it handed fines to both SkyBet and 888 for regulatory failures, lawmakers in New York slashed the state’s online sports betting tax and a number of companies targeted Ontario ahead of the region’s market opening in April.

Feature of the month

As global expansion is at the forefront of both operator’s and supplier’s yearly roadmaps, these companies are constantly looking for ways to make the most out of global markets. 

With this in mind, uncharted territories can present limitless opportunities and one continent that remains fairly underserved is Africa. 

Amongst the 54 countries on the continent, a number of jurisdictions are beginning to emerge with South Africa and Nigeria leading the way and Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia following suit. 

In an interview with CasinoBeats, James Everett, Africa Sales Director at BetGames, discussed the potential of these regions, before explaining how tech adoption is fuelling new levels of growth. 

“Looking at the last 3-5 years, more and more game providers have entered the African market; taking advantage of the maturing infrastructure and increasingly educated population,” explained Everett. 

“Currently, mobile betting continues to be the biggest medium for players, with many operators focusing on mobile-first gaming providers, thus the online casino industry has rapidly adapted to produce games that are conducive to the demand.”

In the news

For the second year in a row, March was a busy month for the UK Gambling Commission with two hefty fines issued to some of the industry’s biggest operators.

Firstly, 888 received a fine of £9.4m after an investigation discovered social responsibility, player safety and money laundering failures, in addition to an order to undergo “extensive independent auditing.”

Sky Betting and Gaming were next on the naughty list after an “investigation out of licence review” found that the firm had sent promotional emails to customers who had unsubscribed from receiving marketing.

After 41,395 self-excluded customers and 249,159 unsubscribed customers received an offer to ‘bet £5 get 100 free spins’ from Sky Vegas, the company was issued a fine of $1.17m.

Crossing the pond, New York was in the news as its lawmakers moved to slash the state’s online sports betting tax rate, whilst increasing licence fees and the number of active operators in the state. 

According to a 2022/2023 state budget proposal, operators seeking approval to operate a downstate casino would have to pay a minimum of £1bn in licensing fees. 

Furthermore, companies targeted expansion into Ontario as the Canadian province announced an initial batch of operators to go live when the igaming market debuted the next month. 

Licence recipients within this initial batch included BetMGM, bet365, Rush Street Interactive and Unibet, with Light & Wonder and Kindred receiving approval from the Alcohol & Gaming Commision Ontario shortly afterwards. 

Recommended reading

As March drew to a close, the Eilers-Fantini Online Game Performance Report saw Design Works Gaming climb the ranks with its Break the Bounty title while slots proved to account for 89.9 per cent of games tracked in the US’ igaming ecosystem.

Responding to a move that eventually fell through towards the end of 2022, David Flynn, Glitnor Group CEO, discussed the significance of his company’s acquisition of Malta-based igaming affiliate KaFe Rocks.

Video of the month

In the maiden video edition of CB100 Pathways, Responsible Gaming Council CEO Shelley White highlighted the importance of collaborative leadership while examining ongoing challenges and future opportunities.