Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. A secondary potential Light & Wonder listing, Evolution annual report, maiden fine by the German regulator, French action against unlicensed operators and a breakdown of the Dutch ecosystems first full 12 months all feature in our latest recap.
The German regulator Gemeinsamen Glücksspielbehörde der Länder imposed a five figure financial penalty on an unnamed licence holder for violating advertising regulations.
In the first such “severe fine” issued by the authority, the exact amount of which was undisclosed, the GGL said that “a permitted gambling provider” did not comply with the advertising provisions of its permit.
Ronald Benter, CEO of the GGL, noted: “We consider these advertising regulations to be very good and justified. GGL consistently monitors offers from legal providers. In the event of violations, we levy heavy fines.
“The withdrawal of permission in the event of repeated violations of the provisions of the state treaty on gaming is a measure that we do not shy away from.”
René Jansen, Chair of the Kansspelautoriteit, reflected on a maiden full calendar year for the Dutch online gambling ecosystem “with mixed feelings”.
Across a year that has witnessed numerous licence applications, record number of financial penalties and advertising warnings, Jansen acknowledged that while “much is going well” there are several points of improvement that must be made.
“Much still needs to be done – primarily among the licensees – to do full justice to our mission of ‘Playing Safe’,” he said in his first full 12-month annual report.
On the licensing front, 24 permits have been issued, with 21 in operation and supplying offerings to customers. 13 applications are currently being assessed.
This, said Jansen, is due to the fact that it requires “a lot of capacity from both Ksa and the applicants,” with it added that “several applications” have been withdrawn or rejected following background checks.
Playtech made an investment of $85m into Hard Rock Digital that secured a “low single digit per cent minority equity ownership stake”.
As a result of the transaction, which is not subject to shareholder approval,” the group is expecting to witness contributions to B2B revenue from 2024 onwards as HRD continues to expand across current and new starters.
As of December 31, 2022, the unaudited gross assets of HRD were $69.4m, while for the 12 months to the same date unaudited net loss before tax attributable was $76.3m.
The proceedings, said Hard Rock, will predominantly be utilised to fund expansion across further US states as they become available, as well as on an international basis to “select” markets across the coming years.
France’s unified gambling regulator, L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux stepped up its regulatory action against unlicensed operators which are targeting French customers illegally.
The ANJ has stated that only 17 operators alongside the country’s national lottery operator, Francaise des Jeux, are licensed to offer legal online gambling in France, with all other sites deemed illegal.
The regulator added that these illegal sites carry multiple risks for players, including personal data theft, payment fraud, installation of malicious software and non-payment of winnings, as well as no problem gambling support, protection against underage gambling or legal recourse in case of disputes.
Fresh off the back of a record-setting 2022, the US’ commercial gaming industry picked up where it left off as revenue swelled year-on-year across all verticals through January.
Subsequently, the 31-day period of the year set a single month revenue record, according to the American Gaming Association’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker.
This saw traditional casino games, sports betting and igaming reach $5.50bn in January 2023, which represents a 21.1 per cent uptick and marks 23 consecutive months of growth.
Evolution is seeking a significant ramp up of expansion through the current year across all operations after the group set an ambition of widening the gap to its competition.
Those were the words of CEO Martin Carlesund in an end of year report, echoing the sentiment of a recent Q4 and FY breakdown, with 2023 tasked with changing the fortune of an underperforming RNG division.
For the full-year, revenue rose 36.3 per cent to €1.45n (2021: €1.06bn), with live casino topping the €1bn barrier to close the 12 month period at €1.18bn (2021: €839.23m).
RNG came in at €268.42m for the year, an increase of 16.94 per cent YoY from €229.53m, however, the group noted that this still remained below expectations.
Kansspelautoriteit, the Dutch gaming authority, fined Hillside New Media Malta, bet365’s Malta-based operating company, for violating advertising laws.
Ksa has issued a €400,000 fine to Hillside for “targeted advertising and bonuses to young adults” – those aged between 18 and 24 under the regulatory standards – who had accounts with the company between 26 October 2021 and 1 February 2022.
The investigation into Hillside was initiated following the broadcast of Kassa, a consumer-focused TV programme that conducts investigations into products and services and tests them.
Licensed gaming companies in Sweden recorded revenue of SEK 27.35bn (£2.11bn) during 2022, which represented a 5.1 per cent increase when compared to the SEK 26bn (£2bn) gained through the year prior (2020: SEK 24.73bn).
It was the final quarter (October – December) that proved to be the most fruitful with revenue of SEK 7.24bn (£560.93), with the year steadily progressing from Q1’s SEK 6.56bn (£508.24m), and Q2 and Q3’s SEK 6.77bn (£524.51m).
Looking at this in more detail, online betting and gaming remained the front runner in the individual reporting segment, rising a little over six percentage points year-on-year to SEK 17.14bn (2021: SEK 16.11bn). The country’s digital domain remained fairly consistent through each quarter, peaking in Q4 with SEK 4.38bn (£399.2m).
Light & Wonder is pursuing the possibility of a secondary listing of shares on the Australian Securities Exchange in a bid to accelerate its global ambitions and drive further shareholder value.
Among the potential benefits identified as a result of a potential ASX listing is an enhanced profile in Australia, as well as providing access to fresh long-term institutional investors in the country.
This, it was added, would complement a “strong existing base of shareholders” in the US and Australia.
As part of the process, which would add to the company’s existing primary Nasdaq listing, L&W will be consulting shareholders as part of an overall evaluation.