In a month that saw football fans the world over rejoice as a slew of major leagues returned to action, including the globe’s most watched in the Premier League, Eastern Europe and the US hit the forefront of the global news agenda.

The start of the month saw the first grain ship leave the Ukrainian port of Odessa, in a UK brokered deal to break months of Russian blockade, to help alleviate global shortage.

Staying in the region, a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for drug smuggling amid claims she was being used as a pawn between the country and the US.

August also saw the FBI conduct a search of former US President Donald Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Largo, over his handling of classified government documents. Less than one week later, unsealed court papers of the search showed that 11 sets of classified documents were recovered, some of which were labeled top secret.

It was the UK Gambling Commission that hit the industry headlines with a record penalty penalty, with Canadian picket lines, US tax revenue and the key issue of retention also grabbing readers’ attention.

Feature of the month

With poker set for a starring role at the fast approaching SBC Summit Barcelona, we took a different approach to the 100 Club in August by delivering a more intimate analysis into the online vertical alongside Ekaterina Giganova, EvenBet’s Head of PR and Events and Martin Stalros, Relax Gaming COO.

In what quickly became a regular feature, our maiden offering tasked a select pair to detail the possibilities of innovation and what we could see change within the game on a digital basis.

“The short answer is yes, without a doubt,” began Stalros upon examination if it’s indeed still possible to innovate within the space.

“There is ample room for innovation in the poker space and we’re bound to see a lot of it in the coming years. 

“Innovation in poker has always been a key ingredient for its success. Realistically, in order to remain current and retain the mass audience’s interest, innovation has been a requirement rather than a luxury. 

“This hunger for novelty has kept suppliers on their toes and ultimately resulted in the lively poker arena we know today.”

In the news

The major headlines through August came via Entain and the UK Gambling Commission, with a number of updates covering the pair worthy of note through the 31 days. 

The most significant of these saw a £17m regulatory settlement, the largest UKGC enforcement outcome to date, brought against the former after an investigation discovered a range of social responsibility and anti-money laundering failures across its online and land-based businesses.

Elsewhere, the regulator also penalised Smarkets $630,000 for similar such failings, while also calling for maintained vigilance and urging caution against year-on-year comparisons due to differing circumstances.

Swinging back to Entain, and the company’s troubles continued after its Ladbrokes subsidiary was accused of failing to stop an individual’s problem gambling. 

On the M&A front, Entain also rolled-out a designated growth strategy for Central and Eastern Europe that has kicked-off with the €800m purchase of Croatian online casino and sports betting operator Supersport. This came alongside the founding of Entain CEE.

The theme of penalty action continued into Sweden where a warning and penalty was issued to ATG after it was discovered that a self-exclusion function was not accessible for those logged in with a mobile bank ID.

Troubles also affected Canada where picked lines were started at select Great Canadian Entertainment properties, before a tentative agreement was reached some days later.

In other news, the Dutch regulator asserted that the market is not out of step, the World Series of Poker disclosed its “comprehensive” online return after its land-based counterpart shattered records and US states were said to be leaving millions in tax revenue on the table via a lack of legalisation.

Recommended reading

Since the inception of igaming, retention of existing customers has been paramount to growth and as competition within the sector has increased between operators, CRM is now more important than ever. 

This become the focus of a two part roundtable that captured readers’ attention through July, which featured the insights of Bar Konson, Head of Sales at NuxGame, Thomas Aigner, Head of Business Development at and EvenBet’s Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Starostenkov.

David Stoveld, COO of EveryMatrix’s Armadillo Studios, also took centre stage to explain the factors behind the decision to utilise the individual within the fabric of a slot, and the desire to land a telling blow across the industry, in the Americas and beyond.

Finally, Design Works Gaming maintained momentum across both the overall and new games ranks in August’s Eilers-Fantini Online Game Performance Report, while Gaming Realms made waves to charge to top spot in the latter.

Video of the month

August delivered the latestt edition of Now that’s what I call slots, which saw Lady Luck Games Game Music Composer and Sound Designer Andrew Vasilyev dive into all things music and the creation of what he believes is a stand-out soundtrack.

Discussing the influences of Scandinavian folk music on the score, Vasilyev set out to blend traditional sounds with more contemporary influences to create the unique sounds that we hear in Valholl Wild Hammers.