2016 has been a busy year for the iGaming industry seeing a lot of mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, product releases and record-breaking results. To have a solid recap, we lined up the highlights in a month-by-month review. 2017 – bring it on!
Gaming Innovation Group Announced New Share Offering
The company looks to raise an estimated NOK 45 million (€4.8 million) from the sale, which Swedbank Robur Fonder, a leading Scandinavian asset management firm shall be directing.
The sale allows Gaming Innovation Group to “strengthen GIG’s financial position and enable the company to step up efforts to monitor strategic growth opportunities”, the operator noted.
Robin Reed, CEO of GIG, said: “A strengthened balance sheet will allow us to pursue these opportunities as they arise. As part of the transaction, we have received a substantial and long-term shareholder.”
Betconstruct Opened New Regional Offices
The new offices form part of an overall international sales and service development strategy.
“According to our practice of being as close as possible to our partners and our strategy of insistently expanding into new markets, we have doubled our efforts in Latin America by opening the second sales and service centre there,” commented Vahe Baloulian; BetConstruct’s CEO.
“At the same time, we are not overlooking our European home base, the eastern part of which will now be better served by our newly established and expanding Kiev branch,” he added.
Richard Carter Joined SBTech as Chief Executive Officer
Carter, former director of research at Deutsche Bank, was responsible for running the highly rated European equity gaming franchise for the past 7 years.
Between 2003 and 2009, Richard worked at the London listed Stockbroker Numis Securities, as a key member of their highly rated Leisure and Gaming team. Carter was notably positioned at the forefront of several highly renowned global online gaming companies such as 888, 32Red and Empire Online.
Malta the Most Represented Nation at ICE
For those who need more proof that Malta is one of the hottest gaming hubs in Europe, then the flowing statistics should be enough. The Mediterranean island topped the ICE international league table with 34 exhibitors, followed by other well-represented countries – United States (23), Italy (18), Germany (13) and Spain (11).
Catena Media went Public
From affiliates to super-affiliates; from a small start-up to a public listed enterprise – Catena Media became the success story that many industry practitioners dream about.
“We welcome all of our new shareholders and look forward to be a listed company on Nasdaq First North” said Robert Andersson, the company’s CEO. “This is an exciting day for us and we are very motivated to continue our hard work in order to deliver profitable growth and increase shareholder value.”
Ulrik Bengtsson became the New CEO and President of Betsson AB
Being an extremely successful CEO at Betsson Malta, Ulrik Bengtsson proved that he was ready for the big step ahead. He replaced Pontus Lindwall, who returned to his previous role as Chairman of the Board.
“I have been a part of an incredible journey over the past four years with Betsson but I think that we are still only at the start of a structural transformation of the entire industry, which is enabled by a continued transfer of the activity towards online. In my role as CEO and President of Betsson, I will continue to ensure that, in the first instance, the group focuses on customers, and that innovation takes place where it is important for them. In this way Betsson will continue to gain market share. Our strategy to grow both organically and through acquisitions remains”, said Ulrik Bengtsson.
LeoVegas Public Offering Met Huge Interest
Commenting on the IPO’s huge success, Gustaf Hagman and Robin Ramm-Ericson, co-founders of LeoVegas, said: “Not even five years have passed since that spring evening when the concept for the mobile gaming company LeoVegas was born. We are happy about the extremely strong interest to invest in the LeoVegas share and now welcome almost 30,000 new shareholders.”
Notable new investors in the Malta licensed gaming giant include Catella, Handelsbanken, Swedbank Robur, Carnegie Asset Management, Keel Capital, Fonden Alcur and AMF Fonder.
888 Holdings Appointed Itai Frieberger as New CEO
Frieberger was promoted from the position of chief operating officer, which he had held since April 2011. In May 2015 he joined the 888 Holdings board.
Chairman Brian Mattingley commented: “Itai is admired throughout the online gaming industry and has been instrumental in the company’s development in recent years. He is therefore, without doubt, the natural choice to take 888 further forward in the rapidly growing online gaming market.”
Mattingley, who had been the executive chairman since 13th May 2015, became a non-executive chairman.
Gaming Innovation Group Acquired Delta Markets for €4.2 Million
In the agreement it is confirmed that GIG will be paying a premium of €4.2 million ($4.6 million) for the acquisition, 30% of which will be settled through new GIG shares, amounting to 4,336,314.
Robin Reed, founder and chief executive officer of GIG, declared: “This acquisition will make Innovation Labs the local leader for referring paying users in the highly sought after and soon-to-be regulated Dutch casino market.”
“Innovation Labs has proven to increase organic growth when bolting on individual assets to our core referral platform. We are continuing to build out our distribution channel for the top performing brands in the industry, and look forward to deliver even more quality online resources for end-users.”
Betsson announced new London Technology Centre
The company opened its new London office while partnering with collaborative workspace specialist WeWork, in order to focus on improving the firm’s technology development and data capabilities.
According to a corporate statement issued, Betsson AM governance stated that its branch in London became an integral part of its business, aiming to create further ‘direct synergies’ with its corresponding teams.
The opening of the firm’s London technology hub corresponds with the operator re-launching of its sports betting subsidiary Betsafe for the UK market.
Catena Media acquired AskGamblers.com for €15 million
On 3rd April 2016, Catena Media acquired the acknowledged and highly regarded affiliate website AskGamblers.com for EUR 15 million and thereby consolidated its position as Europe’s fastest growing company in lead generation. The transaction was the largest in Catena Media’s history.
“We are incredibly proud of acquiring AskGamblers which is one of the best brands in the affiliate market and whose operations are a perfect fit for Catena Media. AskGamblers is an extremely important site for casino operators and, through its stringent requirements for certified casinos, contributes to creating a better iGaming industry.” said Robert Andersson, CEO of Catena Media.
Unibet paid €7.5 Million to Former iGame Owners
In a statement to investors, Unibet disclosed that iGame Group had managed to meet its initial performance targets set for the financial year ending 31 December 2015.
The cost of paying the maximum earn-out of €20 million was fully provided in the financial statements of Unibet Group on 31 December 2015, so this payment has no impact on Unibet’s earnings for 2016.
Lvbet Online Casino Went Live
LVbet, the Malta-based gambling operator, launched its first online casino. LVBet.com is a fully licensed casino and regular online casino players can recognise many of the games on offer which are created by some of the best game providers like Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Thunderkick and Wazdan.
Commenting on the launch, Marcin Sapinski, a representative for the startup gambling company, said that they are extremely excited to be introducing the new casino to the online gambling market. Mr. Sapinski further noted that they want to make their players feel special and to know that they matter to the online gaming brand.
Leovegas Launched Sports Betting Product
Gustaf Hagman, CEO and co-founder of LeoVegas Group commented on the launch: “LeoVegas` mobile DNA and innovative strength are the foundation for our market-leading position in mobile gaming. I am very proud of our employees who have enabled us to launch a product that will bring mobile sports betting to a new level.”
“We launched LeoVegas Sport in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands and Canada. We’re looking at expanding into more and new markets shortly”, commented CEO of LeoVegas Gaming Ltd. Johan Styren.
Cherry Signed Acquisition Agreement with Comeon
Swedish gaming company Cherry AB acquired 49% of ComeOn Malta Ltd.’s shares, with an option to also acquire the 51% remaining. The acquisition strengthened Cherry’s position in Scandinavian markets significantly and provided great opportunities for international expansion.
CEO of Cherry AB, Fredrik Burvall, said: “This acquisition will strengthen Cherry’s position in online gaming against competitors in Scandinavia and other European markets. Both Cherry and ComeOn are growing considerably faster than the market as a whole, which facilitates further investments in existing brands and continued expansion in new markets. We will add several strong brands and will profit from the strong entrepreneurial spirit within ComeOn.”
Everymatrix Launched Development Office in Vietnam
Ebbe Groes, CEO and co-founder of EveryMatrix, said: “The present iGaming industry displays a significant commercial potential which translates into a growing number of clients for our company. This reality required a new development office so that we can offer the same high-quality products and respond to the latest demands of our clients for responsive desktop and mobile solutions.”
EveryMatrix’s global office portfolio now consists of the UK, Romania, Denmark, Norway, China, Malta, Ukraine, Philippines, Armenia and Vietnam.
Gaming Innovation Group Acquired Betit Holdings
Gaming Innovation Group signed an agreement to acquire all shares in iGaming operator Betit Holdings Ltd., which owns some of the biggest operators in the Scandinavian iGaming market including SuperLenny. com, Kaboo.com and Thrills.com. The deal is worth approximately €54 million.
Robin Reed, CEO of GIG, said: “Through this agreement, we team up with some of the most accomplished entrepreneur’s in the industry, significantly enhancing our reach to end-users, marketing partners and professionals. Our vision is to make the industry an open and connected eco-system and we will all benefit from the commercial and operational synergies. The acquired technology will accelerate our ability to grow and strengthen our base for further M&A activity.”
Sbtech Secured Software Licence in Romania
SBTech was granted a B2B Class 2 Software Provider License by the National Gambling Office in Romania.
Romania is the latest regulated European market to license the company, which allows it to continue expanding its existing portfolio of awarded permits in numerous regulated markets such as UK, Ireland, Portugal, and more.
Richard Carter, CEO of SBTech, commented: “Increasing the number of regulated markets in which we operate is a key part of our strategy and I am delighted that we are entering the Romanian market, having met the high standards set by the ONJN.”
Mr Green Launched Sportsbook Product
MrGreen extended their portfolio with a Sportsbook product powered by Malta-headquartered provider Kambi. Malta-licensed operator launched its sportsbook ahead of schedule announced in February – a few days before the UEFA Euro 2016.
Per Norman, CEO of Mr Green & Co AB commented: “By launching a Sportsbook, we are meeting our customers’ demand for betting and odds. Together, we have managed to build the Sportsbook in record time thanks to our new, efficient product platform. We have built a Sportsbook of the same high quality as our online casino.”
Tipbet extended ‘Premium Partnership’ with Fortuna Dusseldorf
Conducted by Infront Sports & Media, a representative marketing agency for Fortuna Dusseldorf, for Bundesliga 2 season 2016/17, the Tipbet trademark gained a widespread coverage all the way through the ESpirt Arena (capacity 50,000) on match days.
Product Marketing Manager for Tipbet, Philippos Naskos, said: “Tipbet Betting stands for passion in sport! We are therefore very pleased to continue our commitment with Fortuna Dusseldorf as a partner for the new season.”
Aspire Global Launched Lucky Bets Casino
“The growth rate shown by our B2B division this year shows that our solution has the value that our partners are looking for. As such, we are seeing an increase of companies wanting to work with us, offering them an additional channel to monetize their assets in today’s ultra-competitive environment”, said Jov Spiero, VP of the B2B division at Aspire Global.
“LuckyBetsCasino are delighted to partner with Aspire Global. With a high quality web and mobile solution, we can now offer a variety of the most popular games in the market”, said LuckyBetsCasino’s CEO.
Tipico released Prepaid Deposit App in Germany
With this prepaid app, sports bettors can top up their account easily via smartphone; the application is available for free download on both Android and iOS.
Prepaid cards are available in several shops across Germany, tobacconists and tobacco shops, grocery stores, gas stations, and various other providers guarantee an area-wide service.
Furthermore, the Tipico Pay application always leads the customer to the nearest point of sale, on the shortest route available.
Kyte Consultants partnered up with Featurespace
Kyte Consultants entered into an agreement with Featurespace, provider of machine learning fraud and compliance products to the gaming sector, to be official resellers of Featurespace’s ARIC™ products to gaming operators and financial institutions in Malta, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Alan Alden, Director at Kyte Consultants, commented: “We chose to partner with Featurespace because their ARIC engine offers the most advanced machine learning solution in the market, and is already successfully deployed by some of the world’s leading gaming operators and financial institutions. Featurespace’s ARIC engine will help our clients to grow their businesses while complying with regulatory requirements.”
Daily Fantasy Sports to be regulated in Malta
The Malta Gaming Authority announced that daily fantasy sports will no longer require a gambling license.
This decision towards the skill based licensing framework is expected to attract an extensive arrival of new operators to this small Mediterranean island as well as propelling Malta into the very center stage of DFS action in Europe.
Valery Bollier, CEO of Malta based operator Oulala.com stated, that MGA’s team has foreseen a few years ago the rise of a future Skills Game industry in Europe.
888 Holding launched Localised Service in Romania
“Our flagship brands, 888poker, 888casino and 888sport, operate in several regulated markets around the world, including the United Kingdom, Spain and Denmark, and have been an online destination of choice in these markets for years. We aim to offer 888.ro to Romanian players as a global brand with a unique, local flavour,” commented Chief Executive of 888 Holdings Itai Frieberger.
KPMG to aid creation of National Self-Exclusion Platform in the UK
The company will initially assist the trade body by undertaking a scoping study which will help to shape the development of the National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme. It will then support and advise the RGA during the implementation process which could take place before the end of 2017.
RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood commented: “Self-exclusion can be a vitally important tool, especially for problem gamblers or those who are at risk of developing problems.”
NetEnt went live with Rank Group
NetEnt entered into an agreement with major UK gambling operator Rank Group. Following a seamless integration process, online players at Rank Group can now enjoy titles by one of the world’s leading providers.
This move came as part of NetEnt’s strategy to further extend its presence in the rapidly growing UK online gambling market that is so highly competitive.
Enrico Bradamante, Managing Director of NetEnt Malta Ltd. said that they are happy to sign a deal that would expand their presence in the regulated UK market, and further noted that their titles will most certainly be enjoyed by Rank Group customers.
BetConstruct implements Golden Race Virtual Sports Content
This will include premium virtual content such as horse and greyhound racing, virtual football, tennis, Real MMA Fighting, keno and lottery.
Vahe Baloulian, CEO of BetConstruct commented: “Aside from the founders of BetConstruct, I don’t know anyone else in this business who is more passionate about what they do than the founders of Golden Race. BetConstruct is happy to put its distribution power behind Golden Race content. We are confident that it will contribute to the success of both companies.”
iSoftBet and Tom Horn entered Partnership Agreement
This agreement will see Tom Horn’s full range of mobile and online gaming casino integrated into the prominent mobile and online casino games supplier iSoftBet’s Game Aggregation Platform.
CEO of Tom Horn Gaming Ondrej Lapides commented: “The partnership with iSoftBet is a key success for Tom Horn Gaming and we are extremely happy that they will be offering our full portfolio to some of the largest and most successful e-gaming operators.”
Paysafe confirmed Acquisition of Income Access
CEO of Paysafe, Joel Leonoff said: “By adding Income Access’s affiliate technology to our product suite alongside our Skrill and NETELLER brands and deepening our merchant relationships, this transaction delivers on Paysafe’s strategic objectives to provide relevant payment solutions that serve the evolving needs of our merchants.”
TWIST3D turns time spent playing into real impact
Chroma Studios announces the immediate relaunch of their 750,000 user free to play game — TWIST3D for iOS and Android. Updated for the latest generation of operating systems, the game features new and unique Freemium Philanthropy™ technology from Karmafy. This enables players to support their favourite good causes, for free, simply by playing the game. A unique system for gamers to leverage their time spent playing into having real-world positive impact.
“We’re firm believers in the power of games to change the world, and have always been open to supporting charity within our games.” said Tim Shepherd, CEO of Chroma Studios. “Until now, we never really found a solution that embraced a community spirit and fits our free-to-play business model. When we heard about Karmafy and ‘Freemium Philanthropy’, we knew it was the right fit for us and our players.”
LeoVegas granted gaming licence in Denmark
Group CEO and LeoVegas co-founder Gustaf Hagman states: “LeoVegas expansion continues, and it is gratifying to see how we grow in new markets. Our strategy to enter regulated markets or markets that are facing regulation seems like a winning concept. I am convinced that our market-leading mobile gaming product, data-driven marketing approach, and a strong, local team will help ensure a successful launch in Denmark, where no one has yet taken the mobile position.”
According to the data from H2 Gaming capitol, the Danish online gaming market has been estimated to be worth DKK 4.6 billion in 2016.
FAST TRACK Solutions Partners with NetRefer
CEO of FAST TRACK, Simon Lidzen commented “FAST TRACK is delighted to choose NetRefer as its key partner for our clients marketing platform solution. The flexibility of the solutions & the progression of the product enables us to ensure our clients will receive a leading offering.’’
COO of NetRefer, Timothy Buttigieg commented “NetRefer is excited to partner with FAST TRACK, a technology organisation building robust, innovative and scalable platforms. We will provide FAST TRACK with our award winning product suite together with access to our industry experts to ensure that they are successful.”
This partnership is the second B2B agreement FAST TRACK have made in recent succession, following from their recent partnership with Enteractive to extend Enteractive’s customer retention support offering to FAST TRACK casinos.
Golden Race First to be Awarded Class 4 Licence by the MGA
Golden Race CEO Martin Wachter commented: “We are extremely proud to be the first virtual company to receive a Maltese Class 4 licence, which allows all companies who work under the Maltese Gaming Regulations to take advantage of our product there.”
He went on to say that: “The process takes a lot of time and effort to ensure all of the stringent guidelines are adhered to, but at Golden Race we strive to provide exactly what customers need to be successful, regardless of their location and regulations. Now those operators who love our products can use them fully licensed – it’s win-win all around.”
The MGA license is one of three recently obtained by the heavy-hitting company as it continues to expand across the globe.
Unibet to Deliver its Strongest Ever Full-Year Performance
The Stockholm-listed operator detailed that period group revenues had reached £142 million compared to the £83 million in the same period last year. Its strong revenue performance sees Unibet declaring a period EBIDTA of £33.9 million.
Closing the quarter on September 30th, Unibet governance declared profits after tax of £21 million, compared to the £12.9 million in Q3 2015.
Updating investors on its year-to-date performance, Unibet governance declared £391 million worth of group revenues, compared to YTD 2015 with £242 million – combined with YTD group profits after tax of £54 million, compared to 2015’s £36 million.
Commenting on corporate performance, Unibet Group CEO Henrik Tjärnström stated: “Strong performance across all brands and successful acquisitions deliver 65 per cent increase in Gross winnings revenue (42 per cent in constant currency, of which 27 per cent is pure organic growth)”
SiGMA raises the bar with mega successful show
The third edition of SiGMA broke all records. The island has never witnessed an iGaming bonanza this spectacular, this successful: everyone walked out a winner. The organisers anticipated close to 3,000 attendees, with the final numbers edging 4,000, double last year’s numbers. This was clearly visible on the expo floor, which was extremely
busy on both days.
After receiving plenty of great feedback, this year’s summit saw some great upgrades, including the fact that over 300 affiliates flew to Malta for free, from the organisers’ own pockets. There are plans to reignite this idea with 300 fresh flights, but for new affiliates, thus injecting the show with “fresh attendee blood”.
Catena Media Announces Casino UK Acquisition
Catena Media, the lead generation and online marketing company have expanded their reach with the acquisition of Casino UK. The purchase price which is payable upon completion amounted to €10.6 million. Casino UK website is estimated to generate a revenue of around €600,000 per quarter with an operating margin of about 80%. Most of its revenue comes from the UK market. They currently provide reviews about UK-facing online casinos popular casino games guides and other gambling related content.
NetEnt Expands Into Mexico’s Online Casino Market with Codere
NetEnt has repeatedly pointed out that expanding into regulated jurisdictions has always been a crucial part of its growth strategy. The Mexican regulated online gaming market is set to become the latest to have the Swedish supplier’s games and solutions launched in, as well as the first one in the Latin American region.
Codere is a leading gambling operator in Mexico which operates in both the land-based and digital segments of the industry. NetEnt will be able to go live in the country via its partner’s licence.
NetEnt’s announcement about entering Mexico comes merely days after the Swedish provider launched its Christmas-themed gaming title, Secrets of Christmas – a 5-reel, 25-line, 3-row slot which features funny and colourful symbols and exciting bonuses which capture the spirit of Christmas and create a festive atmosphere for players.
MGA Reports Gaming Industry Employment up by 31%
According to the interim performance report published by Malta Gaming Authority(MGA), employment withing the Malta’s gaming industry has increased by 31% in the first six months of 2016.
According to the report, an estimated 6,150 people were employed in the gaming sector by June 2016 with the gaming industry directly contributing 12.0% of the total economic value of the Maltese economy with employment in the gaming industry rising by 31% year on year.