In a month that saw Lionel Messi finally claim football’s top prize as Argentina overcame France in the World Cup final, the Premier league returned to action with a bang to the delight of many.

Elsewhere in sport, cricket’s Indian Premier League draft saw Sam Curran celebrated as the most expensive player in history, while, on the international front, England became the first team ever to secure a whitewash over the home nation in Pakistan.

On the small screen, Netflix began to stream a controversial Harry and Meghan documentary series, while the big screen welcomed the long awaited sequel to 2009’s Avatar.

December also saw American basketball star Brittany Griner released by Russian authorities in a prisoner exchange for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout after being detained on drug smuggling charges since February 2022.

In the industry, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was arrested in the Bahamas after the US filed criminal charges against him, including those of wire fraud and money laundering.

Feature of the month

Igaming businesses should not be intimidated by licensing partnerships – even if the other party is a traditional rival. Such deals are crucial for brand building and driving corporate growth, said Gareth Scott, Chief Commercial Officer of Gaming Realms.

The studio has established a reputation across the sector thanks to its ever-evolving Slingo mechanic, which is often seen as part of collaborations with operators, popular media brands and even in new versions of other developers’ hit slots franchises.  

Slingo is now familiar to players at the online casinos of Entain, Flutter, William Hill, BetMGM and Kindred Group, thanks to the development of exclusive content for those operators. But what was it that those international brands were looking for when they selected Gaming Realms as a partner for exclusive games? 

“That really depends on their goal. Throughout 2021 we dived headlong into exclusive content development focused purely on acquisition and game simplicity,” he explained

“We managed to put Slingo at the heart of their acquisition programmes. Our player data also shows that once a Slingo player is acquired the games cross-sell incredibly well to each other to support retention.”

In the news

December saw readers most captivated by Catena Media completing the long-mooted sale of the AskGamblers brand to Gaming Innovation Group for €45m, with a maintained business streamlining said to remain a focus for the former.

After having detailed “strategic interest from third parties” to purchase certain assets throughout the year, the group added that it intends to continue these efforts, with “a clear focus” on North America. 

In the UK, the regulator issued an apology for a deleted tweet that incorporated a GIF that had been criticised as inappropriate, while William Hill secured an agreement with Aston Villa FC to become the official in-stadium betting partner for the premier league side. 

In the Netherlands, as action was taken for World Cup violations, despite prior warnings, while René Jansen, Chair of the Ksa, said that “Only with cooperation and an open dialogue beyond our own agendas can we improve the care that is needed for people with a gambling addiction.”

Elsewhere, Sweden’s Ministry of Finance submitted a memorandum that, if passed, would be charged with providing better opportunities to combat gambling addiction for the nation’s licensees.

Recommended reading

Ben Sutherland, the Founder and CEO of Present Creative, spoke to CasinoBeats during the month to discuss what a purchase by Greentube means for the San Francisco-based studio and how its team plans on taking Greentube to the next level in the United States.  

Furthermore, Twitch once again became the focus of attention as Michael Pederson, CCO at Livespins, noted that change made two months prior was something the firm “saw coming from a long way off”.

Video of the month

In the latest edition of the 100 Club pathway series, Raph Di Guisto, SVP, Silverback Gaming at GAN, expressed the differences from his hedge fund origins and the gambling sector, how Silverback came to be and how the acquisition of GAN has propelled the studio to new heights.

“We raised a little bit of money for funding for Silverback, mainly through friends and family, and we always planned to go back to investors after raising an initial amount of capital. The idea was once we put a few games out we could raise it at a much better valuation,” he commented.

“Obviously COVID had happened in between, who’d have thought starting a company in the middle of a pandemic would be a good idea, I don’t know! I’ve had worse ideas as it turns out!

“We started approaching investors again with the idea of raising a bit more capital and with COVID having happened and the US market starting to open… What was actually happening is some of these big US players were starting to look at acquiring smaller studios but unfortunately for them, all of the medium sized studios had already been acquired.”