888 breaks up with SI, Entain FY2023, Betsson goes to Italy

888 breaks up with SI, Entain FY2023, Betsson goes to Italy

888 breaks up with SI, Entain FY2023, Betsson goes to Italy
The week was definitely one headline grab after another. Amid the customary reporting of end-of-year results, several companies used the opportunity to announce new strategic initiatives – whether shifting resources from one jurisdiction to another or mulling a withdrawal from certain markets altogether. Entain made the news this week amid its FY 2023 reporting, which saw the company post a group loss after tax that stood at £879m, caused not least by regulatory headwinds and the settlement with the British tax regulator, the HM Revenue & Customs. Although the company saw the loss yawn over the past year, it also notched up a significant increase in active players, a jump of 23% year-over-year. Entain’s top brass do not envisage an immediate return to normalcy in 2024, as the company has set aside an additional £40m in costs due to shifting regulatory regimes in core markets, but it has expressed optimism about the future, nevertheless. Betsson Group has decided to take a deep dive into the Italian iGaming market, a contested but highly lucrative market for brands that manage to establish themselves locally. Betsson Group is already present locally with StarCasinò but the group has now made an entry with its eponymous flagship brand, Betsson.it, which will be vying for market shares in a stringent regulatory environment and on the eve of a potential tax increase in Italy. In the meantime, the German gambling regulator (GGL) has urged federal governments to pursue a tougher stance on loot boxes, and not stop at classifying them as gambling, but also come up with ways to regulate them. The regulator is committed to working on a series of initiatives that will help guide policy and regulatory efforts in future, as the status of loot boxes is still undecided, but some European jurisdictions have already decided to outlaw them. The other big news this week comes from 888 Holdings’ corner. The company has initiated a strategic review that will focus on its B2C assets in the United States, after the company also confirmed that it is breaking up with the Sports Illustrated brand. This was not occasioned by a lack of potential for the brand, 888 explained. Rather, despite some short-term successes, 888 just couldn’t see the investment in the market pay off and generate the expected and needed value the company is after in the immediate future. The Kansspelautoriteit, the Dutch gambling authority, has slapped Gammix Limited Ltd with an eye-watering €19,679,000 fine. The fine was condemned by the company which called it “outrageous” and “unsubstantiated.” Gammix Limited and the regulator have been at each other’s throats for a while now, and KSA has already acted against the operator once in the past. Across the Industry This Week Genius Sports, a tech and sports company, posted record results for 2023, with the company notching up significant growth and expansion across multiple verticals and product portfolios. Meanwhile, bet365 pursued further expansion in Denmark by adding Relax Gaming’s bespoke games and titles, seeking to consolidate its presence in the important market. All of this comes against the backdrop of Problem Gambling Awareness Month which commenced on March 1 in the United States. To this end, both BetMGM and FanDuel have announced joint initiatives with Kindbridge with the funding provided by the private operators designed to significantly strengthen awareness for problem gambling and allocate additional resources in the fight against gambling addiction in the United States. America is only waking up to the realization that problem gambling is a serious problem that needs rapid addressing. Yet, for all the tardiness of this realization, there have been several good examples, as we have discussed in one of our latest in-depths called “America’s gambling addiction: The Good, the bad, and the ugly.” States have been rather quick to respond to the need for more funding, but there are also cases where more needs to be done. We Spoke with the Industry’s Leaders This week, we had the opportunity to catch up with Casino Guru’s Head of Sustainable & Safer Gambling, Šimon Vincze, with whom we continued to discuss Casino Guru’s unflagging effort to create a more comprehensive self-exclusion program than the ones that are in place right now. Vincze detailed many of the company’s current initiatives, including the Global Self-Exclusion Initiative (GSES) which is part of the Gamtegrity platform. Vincze continued to familiarize people with the underpinning and ground-breaking work put into GSES and why it matters, and Casino Guru’s process in building it. We also had a heart-to-heart with Gaming Corps Head of Games Connor Blinman who was happy to discuss with us the company’s Piggy Smash game, and the Smash4Cash mechanic. Blinman talked about the challenge of bringing nostalgia and modernity together and how, if done well, the resulting product pays off. Our team was similarly able to catch up with Simon Hammon, CEO at Relax Gaming, with whom we discussed the company’s entry into the US market through a tie-up with BetMGM in New Jersey, and the supplier’s subsequent plans for the rapidly developing iGaming market in the country. Not least, Casino Guru has much to be happy about as the company was nominated in two prestigious categories, Best Affiliate in CEE” and “Best Support for Responsible Gambling, for the upcoming GamingTECH CEE Awards 2024. And, speaking of events, you may not want to miss out on the CasinoBeats Summit 2024, which will put a huge focus on slots and walk you through many interesting topics around this game category. It’s still some time away, so no rush! Image credit: Casino Guru News

08 MAR 2024

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