Flutter Announces Safer Gambling Measures in Ireland

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Flutter Entertainment has announced that it will introduce a series of measures aimed at increasing betting security in the Irish market.

The measures include the commitment of 1% of Net Gaming Revenue (NGR) to support the research, education and treatment of problem gambling, the banning of credit card use on customers’ online and retail accounts, and a pre-watershed whistle-to-whistle advertising ban that will restrict advertising during live sport.

These measures are supplemented by a range of measures already in place to facilitate intervention when signs of harmful gambling behaviour are identified through artificial intelligence and human monitoring.

Conor Grant, CEO of Flutter UK & I, said: “We welcome the Irish Government’s commitment to introducing gambling regulation during its lifetime. But gambling operators must act responsibly without being required to do so.

“We recognise that gambling has undergone a technological transformation over the past two decades. The influence of the smartphone, social media, and on-demand streaming has been profound. We understand that legislating for these developments is complex and may take some time. We have decided to introduce several measures, well in advance of the legislation, to enhance the effectiveness of our safer gambling policies in Ireland.

“There is an extensive range of safer gambling measures already in place in our Irish business. There are clear benefits if these or similar measures were to be adopted market wide in Ireland. We have not always got it right as an industry and we must ensure collectively that we are doing all we can to prevent problem gambling. The reality is that protection and promotion measures will continue to evolve over time and new measures will need to be considered to promote moderation, safety and enjoyment in this era of digital gambling.”


Game Development World Championship 2021 Launches

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The Game Development World Championship (GDWC) has launched for 2021.

GDWC is the largest game developer-focused competition in the world bringing thousands of developers from across the world together in a friendly competition each year.

Participating in the competition is free for developers. Games on all digital platforms (PC, Console, Mobile, VR / AR) are accepted. Development teams of all sizes and all backgrounds, be it hobbyist, student, indie or professional are welcome to join.

Games will compete in multiple categories where winners will be picked by a jury of industry professionals. Gamers will also be able to choose their favourite in Fan Favourite category and each week in Weekly Votes which will launch soon. Winning teams will receive prizes, which vary from Trips to Finland to Development Software Licenses and GDWC Care Packages filled with goodies.

Game developers can now submit their games to the competition at the GDWC website.


Dutch Channelisation Rate Set to Miss 2024 Target

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The Netherlands Gaming Authority, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has revealed that its projected channelisation rates for the market are set to miss its 80% target for 2024. The KSA used reports from both H2 Gambling Capital and Regulus Partners to estimate the size of the entire Dutch online gambling market.

By 2024, three years after legal online gaming is set to launch, Regulus predicts a combined licensed and unlicensed market size of €827m when excluding bonuses. H2, on the other hand, predicts a market worth €1.08bn including bonuses.

Looking just at the legal market, H2 predicted revenue of €757m for 2024, while Regulus did not split regulated revenue from the offshore total. This meant that roughly 70% of revenue would be channeled into the legal offering, below the KSA’s target of 80% at this point in time.

H2 noted that tax rates were one “major obstacle” to Dutch channelisation, with online gambling set to be taxed at 29%, more than Sweden’s 18% or Denmark’s 20%.

“Providers will try to (partly) pass on the gambling tax to the players. This makes the legal range of games less attractive. Currently, illegal providers pay no gambling tax in the Netherlands. This gives price-conscious players an incentive to play with an illegal provider,” KSA said.

While Regulus did not break down channelisation in terms of revenue, the KSA said it made an “implicit prediction” that 90% of players would move to the regulated market. This, it added was contingent on advertising regulations not being too restrictive.

The KSA also noted that channelisation could be influenced by different factors, depending on the vertical being considered.

The regulator noted that Regulus had higher predicted revenue for the entire market for 2021 at €544m compared to H2’s €513m projection. However, H2 predicted a faster-growing market. For 2020, it estimated revenue of €416m compared to Regulus’ €394m.


Novomatic Group Restructures its Sales and Production Departments

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Austrian gaming giant Novomatic Group is continuing the transformation begun last year by restructuring its Sales and Production Departments.

All sales units are now bundled under Jakob Rothwangl’s management and the entire Production Department is now centrally managed by Walter Eschbacher. The focus is on increasing efficiency and amplifying synergy potential.

The Global Sales Department will focus on new customer acquisition and increasing international networking activities, while also improving upon the already excellent customer care for existing internal and external customers.

The Production and Logistics Department will consolidate the Production, Purchasing, Logistics and Custom Manufacture Departments for the electronics, joinery, printing and plastics manufacturing segments, allowing for faster and more efficient processes.

“We are using this pandemic to improve internal processes, and are restructuring the Production and Sales Departments as part of the transformation process we began last year. We are pleased to have Jakob Rothwangl and Walter Eschbacher, both experienced, long-term managers at Novomatic, take over leadership in these important segments, and are certain their work will guarantee continuity and efficiency,” Ryszard Presch, Executive Board Member of Novomatic, said.

“I would like to say thank you for this wonderful new challenge and for the trust placed in me as I accept this opportunity to reorganize and optimize Group Sales. The top priority is to maximize customer satisfaction by developing and selling high-quality products and services perfectly matched to the needs of our customers and their markets,” Jakob Rothwangl, VP of Global Sales at Novomatic AG, said.

“The new Production & Logistics Department consolidates closely connected segments into a single department in order to react even more quickly to changing market requirements. My focus will be on establishing new production processes and making use of synergy potentials in order to shorten delivery times and therefore guarantee that the company and its Austrian production locations remain competitive,” Walter Eschbacher, Director of Production and Logistics at Novomatic AG, said.


Inspired Entertainment Partners with The CAGE Companies

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Inspired Entertainment has entered into a partnership with The CAGE Companies and its subsidiary CAGE Sports BV to offer Inspired’s multi-award-winning virtual sports in CAGE’s retail outlets and interactive channels throughout the Caribbean.

Inspired will provide its V-Play Plug & Play (VPP) online and mobile product solution to CAGE’s interactive channels through online platforms and its best-in-class virtual sports to retail venues throughout the Caribbean starting in 2021. VPP includes multiple custom sports variants for CAGE customers, including virtual cricket, which Inspired will be introducing for the first time as part of its VPP solution given the popularity of cricket in the Caribbean.

“The CAGE Companies have established themselves as the Caribbean’s premier gaming route operator and Robert L. Johnson is a true visionary. We are looking forward to working with them and extending our partnership to deploy our leading content into the market. Our virtuals have proven popular in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America and we see the Caribbean as an opportunity to showcase the strength of our overall offerings,” Brooks Pierce, President and Chief Operating Officer of Inspired, said.

CAGE and its affiliates can also sublicense the products to third-party operators in the Caribbean.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer Inspired’s leading virtual sports to our customer base in the Caribbean, providing an engaging betting experience and further complementing our sports betting business. With Inspired’s virtuals, and cricket in particular, our customers’ favorite sports seasons don’t have to end and our retailers can enjoy the financial benefits of the extended season,” Robert L. Johnson, Co-Founder and Majority Owner of the CAGE Companies, said.

“We look forward to starting up our virtual sports operations in a number of Caribbean countries where CAGE Sports has existing licenses or management agreements during the late first quarter/early second quarter 2021. We are also excited about partnering with Inspired in creating new ‘Caribbean Legends of Cricket’ virtual sports games which we believe will create customer excitement in the Caribbean community and beyond,” Robert B. Washington, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of the CAGE Companies, said.


La Française des Jeux (FDJ) Announces its 2020 Results

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La Française des Jeux (FDJ), France’s leading gaming operator, has announced its 2020 results.

After the significant impact of the health crisis on the first half, which saw stakes fall by 18%, the gradual recovery during the summer was confirmed throughout the second half, with an increase of 3%. Over the year, FDJ recorded €16 billion in stakes, a decline of 7% compared with 2019.

Loto and Euromillions demonstrated their resistance, with a 6% increase in stakes to €3.2 billion. Amigo was heavily impacted, notably by its suspension during the first lockdown, recording a decline of more than 30%. Stakes on instant games, down 6% at €7.7 billion, were also affected by the impact of the health crisis on point-of-sale footfall. In total, lottery stakes were down 6% at €12.7 billion.

The decline in sports betting was limited to 10% to €3.2 billion over the year, thanks to growth of 20% in the second half, compared to the second half of 2019, following a decline of early 40% in the first half.

Stakes in the point-of-sale network were stable in the second half, after declining by more than 20% in the first half. FDJ provided support and assistance to its distribution network of nearly 30,000 points of sale.

Online stakes continued their strong momentum, with a further annual growth of nearly 40%, driven by digital lottery, up more than 60% at over €1.1 billion.

Revenue declined by 6% to €1,920 million. EBITDA totalled €427 million, representing a margin of 22.2% of revenue. EBITDA was preserved thanks notably to the implementation of a savings plan of more than €80 million.

Net profit amounted to €214 million. This compares with a net adjusted profit of €202 million for 2019, net of tax and adjusted for the new fiscal and regulatory framework effective from the beginning of 2020, the impact of exceptional long lottery cycles, Sporting Group’s full-year results, and expenses related to the Group’s IPO.

In 2020, the Group strengthened its financial structure, thanks to an EBITDA to cash conversion ratio maintained at over 80%, with available cash in excess of €1 billion at year-end.

FDJ’s Board of Directors will propose the payment of a dividend of 80% of the consolidated net profit to the Annual General Meeting of 16 June 2021, as the Group committed to do at the time of its IPO. The dividend of €0.90 per share will be paid on 23 June 2021.

“2020 was an unprecedented and contrasted year during which FDJ demonstrated resilience and solidarity. The health crisis had a particularly strong impact on our business in the first half. But the recovery in the second half, combined with the Group’s responsiveness and relevant digital strategy, enabled us to preserve our performance and annual results. I would like to thank our employees for their commitment, and to renew our support for our network of retailers, some of which have been severely impacted. As 2021 gets started, while uncertainties persist, the Group remains confident in its prospects for sustainable growth, consistent with its raison d’être,” Stéphane Pallez, Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of FDJ group, said.


Alfastreet Partners with Patir to Launch VIP Chair

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Alfastreet, the market pioneer in the electronic table games category, has signed an agreement with Patir to launch the VIP chair of Alfastreet.

In the world of chairs, Patir is a very popular business and many prestigious casinos around the world have acknowledged its consistency by being exclusive to their goods.

In order to be able to have just the right chair for each of its many different products, Alfastreet has been cooperating with many reputable chair manufacturers, with the latest one being extra special.

With supreme comfort and many additional features such as electrical change, chilled or heated glass holder, food tray, wireless charger and more, the Alfastreet VIP chair is specially built.

The team of Alfastreet is very proud to bring this deal together and they are more than excited to promote this product with its customers and install it.


Senator Proposes €100 Bet Limit to Tackle Problem Gambling in Ireland

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Fianna Fáil Senator Shane Cassells has said sporting organisations should not wait for the rollout of legislation to control the advertising of gambling before refusing such commercial funds from gambling companies.

Fine Gael Senator Joe O’Reilly said that up to €10,000 a minute is spent online on gambling in Ireland where there are at least 29,000 addicts.

He called for a €100 limit on all bets and that only debit cards should be allowed, pointing out that 77% of betting company Paddy Power’s profits came from online gambling.

Mr Cassells told the Seanad that he spoke to Basketball Ireland chief executive Bernard O’Byrne who is “calling on his counterparts in all sporting bodies to lead the way on curbing the proliferation of sports betting advertising.”

Betting firms are targeting the membership of sports organisations, Mr Cassells said.

“It might be enriching some sports bodies, but it is ruining the lives of their members and future generations because the firms know that’s where their target market is.”

Some years ago there was a move to put a casino in Tipperary and they “thought the place would be turned into Las Vegas.

“Now every teenager, and, indeed, adult, is walking around with a casino in their pocket.”

He said the mobile phone “is the greatest weapon that gambling firms have for targeting their addicts. Through the work of their social media teams, they have hooked people with targeted ads and fed their addiction.”

He added that “you can’t turn on a sports bulletin on Sky Sports without it being sponsored by a casino.

Senator O’Reilly said that “gambling addiction ruins more than one life and people chase losses with more gambling”.

“They suffer mood swings and depression. It leads to dishonest behaviour in people who are otherwise and secretive and evasive behaviour.”

Pointing out that up to €10,000 a minute is spent online he called for the €100 maximum bet with only debit cards to be used.

He also said there should be displays warning of problem gambling like the warnings against smoking cigarettes; and called for referrals to addiction services if a customer is very high on the list of big spenders.


Italian Gaming Sector to Jointly Demonstrate in Milan and Rome

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The workers of the legal gaming companies will demonstrate on February 18, simultaneously in Milan – Piazza del Duomo and in Rome – Piazza del Popolo, to attract the interest of institutions and public opinion on the serious difficulty of over 150,000 workers (for a total of about 400 thousand people) affected by the prolonged suspension of activities in the public gaming sector and by the absolute uncertainty about the date of reopening.

The gravity of the situation led for the first time to a public protest by workers from all over the sector, who will demonstrate united under the banner of “Legal Gaming Workers,” to ask loudly the immediate reopening of activities in the regions in the Yellow zone, in compliance with the strict anti-Covid protocols already adopted for over 6 months, as well as the convening of a discussion table between Government, Regions and trade associations, to find a fair solution to the various problems affecting the sector, including the territorial issue and access to credit.

THE NUMBERS OF THE CLOSURE – Also considering the first lockdown, the inactivity has been going on for 7 months now, over 210 days of closure and the situation has led to a loss of tax revenue of over €4,5 billion, in addition to marking a sad record at the European level.

THE PARTICIPANTS – 170 companies, public businesses, bingo halls, betting halls, video lottery halls and equipment managers have already joined the event promoted by a group of companies temporarily united for the occasion under the name Ati Gioco Lecito and supported by the main trade associations (Acadi, Anib, Astro, Confederazione Giocare Italia, EGP-Fipe, Federbingo, Fiegl Confesercenti, Sapar, SGI).


Entain Extends Acceptance Period for Enlabs Bid to March 18

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Entain has extended the deadline for Enlabs to accept the takeover bid until March 18. Entain is still standing firm on its offer despite some recoil from Enlabs shareholders.

The FTSE 100 company said it had filed applications with competition and gaming authorities to obtain the necessary approvals for the takeover, but added that it did not expect those to come through during the current acceptance period, which ends on February 18.

As a result, it had extended the acceptance period to March 18.

“Provided that Entain announces that the conditions of the offer have been satisfied or waived on 23 March, settlement is expected to commence on or around 30 March,” the Entain board said.