As a year in which normality has returned for many draws to a close, and increasingly fleeting glances begin to be taken towards what lies ahead, CasinoBeats is once again revisiting an unexpected 12 months full of ups, downs, and everything in between.

April in the United Kingdom was a worrying time for home owners and renters as the country witnessed the energy price cap for domestic gas and electricity rise by 54 per cent, Boris Johnson and his partner, along with now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, received a fixed penalty notice for breaching lockdown rules and Russian and Belarusian players were banned from the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

In the landscape of igaming, Ontario celebrated a monumental occasion, IGT doubled its portfolio and legal crackdowns happened in both the Netherlands and the USA. 

In the news

Starting with the big news of the month, and one that led to endless suppliers announcing latest moves or intentions, the province of Ontario went live with its digital ecosystem on April 4. 

Overseen by iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, players across the region finally gained access to internet casino games and place sports bets on sites offered by operators that are fully registered and approved. 

Days before the province went live, FanDuel expressed its intentions to expand into Ontario as it vowed to deliver “new, interactive and immersive” engagement strategies for fans and sports leagues. This, confirmed by the AGCO, made FanDuel one of 16 operators to debut digital platforms upon launch. 

April also saw International Game Technology enter into a definitive agreement to acquire iSoftBet, a deal that effectively doubled its IGT PlayDigital catalogue. 

Reported at the time to be €160m in cash, the acquisition was completed in the second quarter of 2022 and also saw the company gain iSoftBet’s proprietary game aggregation platform to distribute third-party games, as well as data-driven promotional and user-engagement tools.

Heading over to Europe, the Netherlands to be precise, and Dutch police carried out raids in four regions of the country as part of an investigation into alleged illegal gambling, drug trafficking and money laundering. 

Investigations and raids on houses and buildings happened in Soesterberg, Zeist, Vinkeveen and Rotterdam with a total of 12 individuals arrested and drugs, cash, firearms, cars and administration seized.

During a raid on April 20, as well as a search of the aforementioned car dealership, a total of 12 people were arrested on suspicion of illegal gambling, including what Dutch police state are the main suspects.

Jumping stateside for another illegal crackdown and April saw the American Gaming Association send a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garsland that urged the US Department of Justice to get a handle on illegal, online sportsbooks and casinos. 

In the letter, the AGA highlighted threats that unregulated operators pose to consumers, state economies and the legal gaming industry. 

Demanding action to protect consumers, the AGA urged the DoJ to educate customers on legal gambling options and warn against the dangers of the illegal market. 

It also urged the DoJ to open an investigation against unlicensed, offshore operators Bovada, MyBookie and BetOnline.

Finally, the month witnessed a few movers and shakers in the world of casino and igaming with Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment appointing Nelson Parker as its Senior Vice President of Strategic Development and Optimove hiring Scott McNabb as the firm’s Vice President of Revenue.

Recommended reading

As part of CasinoBeats’ Heavy Meta series, sponsored by SBC Advisory, Ben McDonagh, CEO and Co-Founder of Green Jade Games, expressed that he hoped the metaverse could become the perfect destination for a myriad of consumers, being “less Black Mirror and more hopeful”. 

McDonagh stated: “Data shows that men can take more risks when a pretty female is nearby. If this correlates to making decisions at the blackjack table, for example, what is to stop the AI in the environment not creating a digital avatar of the female form the player finds more alluring, to walk past in line of sight and therefore subconsciously influencing their decision? 

“Whether the player knows that the character in the metaverse created by the AI is an NPC or a real person behind a screen somewhere else in the world matters little when the dealer deals the next card. The activity has already happened.”

Furthermore, two Eilers Fantini reports revealed that 88 Fortunes retained its slots lead that month and Light & Wonder stood tall, despite Design Works Gaming taking the lead for new entrants.