Daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings secures MGA gaming licence

One of the two biggest companies in daily fantasy sports (DFS) DraftKings has been granted a controlled skill games licence from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). This will allow them to operate in not only Malta but as well as expanding their reach to many other European Union states.

The US sports betting giant has already expanded beyond their core US market where they launched in the UK almost a year ago and now expanding to Europe being granted a licence for Malta and a host of other EU states.

Jeffrey Haas speaking at SiGMA16 (on the left)

Jeffrey Haas, Chief International Officer at DraftKings who was a speaker at one of the SiGMA conferences last year in November 2016 entitled “Fantasy sports and its growing popularity across continents”, spoke to Wall Street Journal (WSJ). He announced the company’s intentions to expand to Germany by the end of March seeing that the country is very involved with fantasy sports activities.

Haas added: “We looked at what allowed us to become successful in the U.S., and one of the key factors was that we came into a marketplace where there was already a strong culture of fantasy sports.”

Joseph Cuschieri at MGA stand during SiGMA16 (first from the left)

DraftKings co-founder and CEO Jason Robins said:  “We are pleased that Malta has recognised the need for special licensing of daily fantasy sports and other skilled based games. The Malta Gaming Authority is an innovative organisation and it is clear that they have put a lot of thought and rigor into this process.”

DraftKings allows its users to place bets on fantasy sports-related activities. The ability to win or lose money depends on the competence to predict professional sports results due to some knowledge of the game. This is why it is considered a game of skill rather than a game of chance.

Following the introduction of specific regulations for skill games licences late last year from the MGA, DraftKings has become one of the first to secure such licence.

MGA executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri explained: “Malta’s intention to regulate digital skill games with a prize was first announced in December 2014 when the MGA published a consultation document.”

“From then onwards, the MGA sought the input of various industry stakeholders and experts in order to develop a framework which facilitates the development of the sector, while ensuring adequate protection for players and fairness of the games.”

Kindred focuses on start-up communities across Europe

The newly rebranded Unibet Group now called Kindred Group, will see a subsidiary company, the Kindred Futures expand their involvement with start-up communities all over Europe. Their goal is co-create future value propositions by seeking mutually beneficial long-term partnerships.

The company’s idea is to collaborate with start-ups who’s fields and expertise are data privacy, augmented reality, content marketing, cyber security, artificial intelligence and responsible gaming.

They plan to cooperate with start-ups in London, England; Stockholm, Sweden and Tel-Aviv, Israel to establish unique ways in which customers can interact with the different products and brands Kindred offers.

Kindred’s internal expertise and data will be available to partners that sign up to the new scheme along with the groups marketing teams which have a reach of over a million customers.

Head of Kindred Futures Will Mace had this to say:

“There is so much opportunity in the gambling industry to transform the experience we offer our customers – it’s a very exciting time for us to work with partners to explore new ideas and discover new sources of value.

“We are keen to look at any great new idea or opportunity – the more transformative the better.

“We believe we have a lot to offer potential partners and thus this is a genuine commitment to do something valuable for both parties.

“At Kindred Futures, our model is as much about giving as it is taking; we are on equal turf.”

Unibet to Deliver its Strongest Ever Full-Year Performance

Following a consecutive “all-time high” Q3 performance, European sports betting operator Unibet Plc is on target 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.

The operator continues its strong momentum in 2016, which Unibet governance stated was a testament to the expanded group’s strategy and effective scalability.

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.

The combined enterprise of Unibet, iGame, and Stan James has seen the operator hit + 1 million active players during Q3 – 220,000 of which delivered by iGame and Stan James brands.

Unibet governance further informed investors that the operator is closing its full-year 2016 strongly, as the company has been able to sustain its new player acquisitions and revenue momentum gained during the Euro 2016 championships this summer.

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)”

“High activity levels driven by the ability to retain the customers from the Euro tournament that started in the second quarter has led to a continued gain in market shares. The margin in the sportsbook was in line with the prior year and the long-term averages, so it was pure activity growth that delivered a new all-time high in Gross winnings revenue of GBP 142.3 million.”

He went on to say that: “It is of course particularly satisfying that the excellent top line growth converted into a new all-time high in EBITDA, demonstrating again the scalability of the Group’s business model which is structured to meet the future challenges of further regulation.”

“All our brands performed very well in the third quarter. The Group underlying EBITDA grew by 38 per cent in constant currency. If iGame Group and Stan James Online had been part of the Group for the full third quarter 2015, their combined EBITDA would have grown by 95 per cent in constant currency.”

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Daily Fantasy Sports to be regulated in Malta

Malta has intentions of regulating Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) which will make them the first European country to specially regulate DFS.
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has recently 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.

MGA stated in their press release that considering the element of knowledge and skill engaged in fantasy sports, there should be some differentiation in place for these activities compared to game of chance when licensing and regulation comes into play.

The recent Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations 2016 states that “Fantasy Sports” and/or “Fantasy Sports Game” is defined as a contest that is played for money or money’s worth by which the winning results is decided solely on the knowledge or skill of the player. Also where the outcome is decided by the buildup of statistical results of the achievement of a sum of persons in the sporting event, but shall not include the projections of the score, point spread or any other prospective occurrence of one or more events, and to avoid any doubts, the definition of a ‘bet’ as explained in the Act will not be applicable.

Several US federated states have already introduced the regulatory bill and this legal notice which is similar to the the notorious UK Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement of 2006 (UIGEA) follows in these US federated states footsteps.

Valery Bollier, CEO of Malta based operator states that MGA’s team has foreseen a few years ago the rise of a future Skills Game industry in Europe. He went on to say that Malta proves themselves to be a hugely competitive jurisdiction due to their ability to adapt themselves quickly to the sense of history and also because of their pragmatism.

The main goal of the Maltese gaming regulator is to protect customers and they have recently been working for several months now on the licensing framework which aims to regulate skill based games including fantasy sports. The intention of this framework which is expected to be passed by the end of this year will also set the rules in determining whether a game is a “Controlled Skill Game” or a “Skilled Game”

”This legal notice is the first step in a process that will see Malta become the first major European country to offer a real skill game licence. It is therefore a very exciting moment for our industry and for Malta,” revealed Bollier. ”Malta being the first major European country to offer a skill game licence means it will attract the attention of the entire European DFS market and place itself firmly at the forefront of the DFS revolution.”

EGBA’s Maarten Haijer to Lead Responsible Gaming Panel at SiGMA

Leading up to Malta’s biggest iGaming summit of the year, preparations are well underway for SiGMA16. It has just been confirmed that Secretary General at EGBA Maarten Haijer will be leading the Responsible Gaming Panel at the event.

Responsible Gaming is a concept that is crucial for gaming and gambling operators, software suppliers and associated service providers. Upholding this concept ensures that their offerings provide the highest standards, as well as a fair and safe gaming experience that protects players from the adverse consequences associated with gaming and gambling.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) is the body that represents the leading online gaming and betting operators established, licensed and regulated within the EU. The EGBA promotes the creation of a safe European digital environment for online gambling players, and takes lead on responsible gaming and sustainable regulation.

Operators are now required by the majority of gambling and gaming codes to ensure that both land-based and online gaming services are offered in a responsible manner. Topics such as the prevention of underage gambling, ensuring information privacy, protection against fraudulent and criminal behaviour, and ensuring a safe, secure and reliable operating environment are some of the topics that will be covered.

Secretary General Maarten Haijer joined the EGBA as Director for Regulatory Affairs. He previously worked as the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Counsellor at the Netherlands permanent representation to the EU, as well as having held several positions in the Dutch ministry of economic affairs.

Commenting on the partnership, Eman Pulis, SiGMA’s Managing Director, said: “This new strategic partnership will not only increase the quality of the conferences, but also bring more veterans from the industry to the Maltese shores. We are looking forward to seeing what the EGBA will bring to the conference.”

The goal of SiGMA is to ultimately bring the entire gaming community together, from affiliates and operators to regulators and vendors. This year’s edition of the iGaming summit will be bigger and better, following the multitude of great feedback received from the previous years.

EGBA will be one of the many great exhibitors at SiGMA16 this November. If you’re interested in experiencing Malta’s biggest gaming event of the year, click here to register.

Kiron and VSoftCo Extend Partnership Deal With EveryMatrix

Kiron Interactive and VSoftCo, two virtual sports specialist suppliers, have extended their deal with EveryMatrix by integrating BetMan Online, Kiron’s new Remote Games Server (RGS), into their CasinoMatrix platform.

Their agreement sees the full suite of online games being made available to all EveryMatrix customers across Europe and Asia.

Initially, it will feature a mix of 10 virtual sports products, including Kiron’s new 3-pointer shootout basketball game and VSoftCo’s new virtual football league game, with additional games also to be added shortly to the portfolio.

With an initial roll-out of Kiron’s virtual racing and VSoftCo’s virtual football game, the companies first teamed up over two years ago on EveryMatrix’s OddsMatrix platform.

Steven Spartinos, co-CEO of Kiron, said “that he was delighted to be able to offer a more extensive product portfolio to reflect a growing interest in virtual games from gaming operators across the globe.

Commenting on the partnership, Steven Spartinos, co-CEO of Kiron, said “We’re very pleased to have extended our deal with EveryMatrix, whose excellent platform has helped us reach new audiences in new territories,” adding that he is delighted to be able to offer a more extensive product portfolio to reflect a growing interest in virtual games from gaming operators around the world.

“We have already experienced great success with them and I’m confident the players of their operating partners will enjoy the greater variety we can now provide.”

Sales Director of VSoftCo, Simon Westbury, stated: “We are delighted to further our existing relationship with EveryMatrix, in partnership with Kiron.

“We are introducing some exciting new game content which we are confident will be well received by EveryMatrix’s extensive international client base.”

Ebbe Groes, EveryMatrix Chief Executive, said: “Kiron and VSoftCo’s virtual games are very popular with players across the globe and we’re very pleased to now be able to offer more of them.

“I’m very hopeful this deal will be beneficial for the three of us and the growing list of casino and sportsbook operators that we supply around the world.”

EveryMatrix will be one of the exhibitors showcasing at SiGMA16, Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year. If you are interested in joining this iGaming summit in November and seeing EveryMatrix along with other exhibitors, click here to register.

Regulatory conference: some SiGMA speakers to watch out for

The World Regulatory Brief conference at SiGMA 2015 will take place on 6 November at the InterContinental Conference Area. This conferences consists of four presentation held on Day 3 of the event.

CalvinAyre asked Eman Pulis and Dennis Dyhr-Hansen, organisers of SiGMA15, to explain the new format for the conferences. In their words, “We realized that many of the delegates don’t like sitting down for two straight days. Most are eager to network and do business. So unlike SiGMA14, this year, each of the four conferences will only last half a day, giving delegates the chance to dedicate the rest of their time to networking on the expo floor, where most of the buzz lies.”

Several speakers will give a detailed overview of the most significant regulatory issues affecting iGaming worldwide in a number of panels moderated by Justin Franssen (bio) . The topics which will be discussed during this conference track include:

  • A holistic view for the iGaming industry in Malta
  • A detailed overview of newly regulated markets across Europe
  • Match fixing
  • Data protection

(See the full schedule here)

Executives looking for a bird’s-eye view of the latest regulatory shifts in the industry need to look no further than this conference dedicated to discussing the political, social, economic and legal factors making headlines in the iGaming world.

In this article, we list four speakers which you cannot afford to miss during this conference.

Justin Franssen, Partner, Kalff Katz & Franssen (Bio)

Justin Franssen and his highly specialised gaming team joined Kalff Katz & Franssen attorneys at law early 2013. Throughout his career he received six consecutive band 1 rankings in Chambers Global Guide and positions him amongst the top 20 gaming industry lawyers in the world. Franssen spoke at 70+ gaming industry events in the last 15 years, including ICE, the IMGL, GIGSE, Legal Gaming in Europe, Gaming in Holland, EIG, Power50, Gaming Executive Summit and several others.

Robin Reed, Managing Director, Guts (Bio)

An entrepreneur at heart, Robin Reed founded Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) together with Frode Fagerli in 2008. These days, GIG invests heavilyboth in startups and people within the iGaming industry, with the aim ofcreating and acquiring the more high-level expertise in this arena. He currently holds the post of Managing Director in GIG and subsidiaries, which include the affiliate marketing company Innovation Labs, and the award-winning operator Guts Gaming. At SiGMA 2015, Reed will speak about his journey from being a player, to managing a company grossing eight digits annually, and the challenges of venturing from affiliation to the operator side of the business.

Simon Planzer, Partner,Planzer Law (Bio)

Simon Planzer is founding partner at Planzer Law, a Zurich-based boutiquelaw firmwhich provides specialised services on all matters relating to Swiss and international gaming law, and advises on general commercial issues.Planzer wrote his PhD on gaming matters and is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law. He is the author of the book: Empirical Views on European Gambling Law and Addiction (2014), published by Springer International Publishing and endorsed by leading gaming practitioners and scholars.

Simon Planzer will join Justin Franssen and Olga Finkel in giving a detailed overview of newly regulatory markets across Europe and how operators can make sure to stay within the limits set by the law in the countries they have a presence in.

Joseph Cuschieri, Executive Chairman, Malta Gaming Authority (Bio)

Joseph Cuschieri is a certified public accountant and a fellow member of the Malta Institute of Accountants of Malta. Throughout his professional career, he held various senior executive positions within the private sector mainly in the construction, services and hospitality sectors amongst others.In his role at the MGA, Cuschieri will befocusing on reforming the Authority to make it more efficient and agile, strengthening the relationships with all stakeholders, strategically grow the on-line gaming sector and promote Malta as a globally respected gaming jurisdiction.

Joseph Cuschieri will take the floor alongside Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera to talk about the increased emphasis being placed by the Maltese government in addressing new challenges and opportunities in the iGaming industry in a holistic manner through innovative measures.

“In a crowded calendar SiGMA was a personal choice for me to attend. Love the island, love the guys doing it. EveryMatrix is proud to be part of the inaugural SiGMA.”

Ebbe Groes, CEO, EveryMatrix

“SiGMA is an excellent networking and knowledge sharing opportunity for local gaming operators, service providers and other industry players seeking to operate in or from Malta. I believe that events like SiGMA can showcase Malta’s unique attributes and strengthen our position as a world class gaming jurisdiction”.

Joseph Cuschieri, Executive Chairman, MGA                  

This is your chance to listen to these industry-leading speakers at the World Regulatory Brief conference during SiGMA 2015. Book your tickets to Malta’s largest iGaming event here. Affiliates enter free!

Martin Britton

Martin Britton is the Managing Director of GLI Europe B.V., GLI Italy B.V., GLI South Africa and the GLI Test Labs España. In his current position he oversees the entire operation for GLI Europe with a key focus to customer satisfaction and service to regulators.

Mr. Britton has over 17 years of experience in the gaming industry. His success from Technical Director to Commercial Director for TCS/John Huxley demonstrated his talents as he increased the growth of the business, designed products, worked with legislators and implemented agreements with customers, suppliers as well as with distributors. He later became the Commercial and Technical Director of VIP Gaming developing gaming products and then the Chief Operating Officer of Cyberview Technology.

Mr. Britton received his education at the University of the West of England in electrical engineering and telecommunications. He furthered his studies at Soundwell Technical Institute of Industrial Managers and Brunel Technical College.