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888poker Releases Super XL Series Schedule

888poker, one of the largest online poker networks in the world, has officially released its schedule for the upcoming Super XL Series in September.

This is the sixth running of the Super XL, which goes to show how popular and successful it has become. The festival will take place between September 17th and 25th, with a total of 40 events. Each tournament will have three different buy-ins – Main, Mini and Turbo – to suit all bankrolls and playing styles.

There will be $4 million in guaranteed prize money; quite the increase from the $1 million in the last edition in May, and double the Super XL Series IV in January.

When the series kicks off, there will be 3 events for players to choose from. The Crazy 8 Super XL Kick-off tournament will offer a guarantee of $100K for an $88 buy-in, a $10K guarantee for the low buy-in of $8.80, and a $10K guarantee also for the $55 buy-in turbo edition.

888Poker Ambassadors Chris Moorman, Dominik Nitsche, Bruno Kawauti, Bruno Politano, Sofia Lovgren, Akira Ohyama, and Kara Scott will be seen at the tables competing alongside all other players. During the Super XL Series V, Nitsche had won the Mini Main Event for $36,541.

Ambassador Chris Moorman said: “I’m hoping I can take one down as the newest 888Poker ambassador. There is a great selection of tournaments every day with great structures and a wide variety of tournament types to keep it fresh.”

On the final date of the festival, the Main Events will be out in force. The $1,050, $1.5 million guaranteed Main Event will steal the show, but there will be four other Main Events with buy-ins ranging between $5 and $160 in Micro, Mini, Turbo and even Super Turbo formats.

In November, 888poker will also be showcasing at Malta’s biggest gaming event of the year, SiGMA16. If you are interested in coming to watch 888poker along with the other exhibitors at this iGaming summit, click here to register.

Yggdrasil Gaming Goes Live with Online Operator Bet365

Yggdrasil Gaming, leading provider of online and mobile casino games, has today announced that its slots portfolio has officially gone live with the world’s biggest online gaming operator, bet365.

Back in February, Yggdrasil struck a deal with bet365, under which the operator would have access to the award-winning provider’s full suite of casino products. Following a rapid integration, the slots are now live on bet365 under the Gibraltar and UK licenses of Yggdrasil.

Some of the recent game releases which bet365 customers will now be able to enjoy include Wicked Circus, Bicicletta, and Seasons.

CEO at Yggdrasil gaming, Fredrik Elmqvist, commented: “There is no bigger name in online gaming than bet365, so we are delighted to announce that Yggdrasil’s games are now live on yet another of the world’s leading operators.

“We have worked extremely hard to ensure a swift and seamless integration, and it has been a pleasure to work with bet365. Delivering on huge deals such as this confirms Yggdrasil’s position as the fastest growing provider in the industry.”

At the recent 2016 EGR B2B Awards, Yggdrasil won Slot Provider of the Year, following the award for Gaming Software Supplier of the Year at 2016’s International Gaming Awards, as well as Software Rising Star at the EGR B2B Awards in 2015.

Unibet Sees New Revenue Record in Q2

Online gambling operator Unibet continues to set new records in what is proving to be a monumental year for the company.

UEFA Euro 2016’s success has propelled Unibet to raise its revenue by 57% year-on-year to a new record of £126.6million for the second quarter of 2016 ending June 30.

Figures showed that earnings rose to £22million, up from the £19million in the same period last year, while profit after tax was up only £100k, reaching merely £13.5million, due to the heavy marketing surrounding the football tournament.

Henrik Tjärnström, CEO of Unibet Group, said: “The quarter was characterised by the Euro 2016 which provided a new all-time high in customer activity and continued strong growth. Margins in the tournament were significantly higher in July than in June. If the margins had been consistent across the tournament, then gross winnings revenue for the second quarter would have been around £3m higher.

“In the period from 1 to 24 July 2016, average daily gross winnings revenue in GBP has more than doubled compared to the same period in 2015. Adjusting for the unusually high margin on the final stages of the Euros, the impact of exchange rate changes and acquisitions, the organic constant currency growth is close to 50 per cent.”

Euro 2016 betting generated £19.6million worth of revenue, and a hefty 14% betting margin. The tournament also helped to drive active customer numbers to 1.13 million at the end of the quarter, nearly double the 603k from the same period in 2015. Around 216k of these new customers came via iGame Group and Stan James Online; two businesses acquired by Unibet last year.

The revenue gains were aided by £14.7 million in contributions from these recent acquisitions, without which, revenue was up 39% while earnings would have dropped 8% to £17.4million.

888 Holdings and Rank Group Target William Hill Acquisition

Reports have been made that major casino and gambling operators 888 Holdings and Rank Group are negotiating to create a £2billion merger.

Speeding up the pace of the UK gambling market consolidation, the two operators are in “relatively advanced” talks on the merger, and assuming the deal goes through, the two would then make a £3billion play to acquire bookmaker William Hill, creating a truly full spectrum gambling operator.

Subsequently, 888 and Rank issued a joint statement announcing that they saw “significant industrial logic” in acquiring William Hill; a move which they believe will result in “substantial revenue and cost synergies”.

While a formal approach has not yet been made to Hills, 888 and Rank have been given until 21st August by UK takeover regulations to propose specific terms of a deal.

As a result of the UK government’s requirement for all UK-facing online operators to hold UK Gambling Commission licenses and to pay 15% tax on all online revenue derived from UK punters, synergy-seeking operators began rushing to the merger altar. Operators with a UK retail presence also saw increased taxes on their shops’ profitable fixed-odds betting terminals, while EU markets hit online operators with new value added taxes.

According to sources with knowledge on the matter, William Hill might express interest in the three-way deal proposed, although 888 Holdings and The Rank Group said in their statement that an official bid might not be made at all, but if made, may not result in a completed deal.

The 888 and Rank consortium statement reads: “The consortium sees significant industrial logic in the combination, through consolidation of their complementary online and land-based operations, delivery of substantial revenue and cost synergies and from the anticipated benefits of economies of scale, which will accrue to all shareholders.

“In relation to the proposed transaction, no decision has yet been taken as to whether 888 would be an offeror or offeree company in respect of certain of the steps that may be taken in order to implement the proposed transaction.”

888 Holdings will also be one of the many exhibitors showcasing at Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year, SiGMA16. If you would like to come and experience this iGaming summit in November, click here to register.

William Hill Approaches KPMG for Digital & Technology Review

According to UK business news sources, William Hill has approached KPMG consultancy to undertake a strategic review focusing on the digital and technology operations of the company.

The consultancy review follows William Hill’s May financial update which saw the operator post an 11% net revenue decline in its digital division, with declines in both online games and sports betting at -4% and -17% respectively.

In 2015, in order to develop in-house technology competencies, William Hill implemented ‘Project Trafalgar’, a new proprietary platform, aiming to extend user engagement between its desktop and mobile offerings.

Mobile integration difficulties during the initial rollout of the platform, however, would impact betting growth within the firm’s UK market. William Hill governance would declare that initial expectations of ‘Project Trafalgar’ had not been met, but that the company was committed to the platform’s long-term viability.

In the opening half of 2016, William Hill’s governance has undertaken a restructure of its digital leadership, appointing Crispin Nieboer as Managing Director of Online, replacing Andrew Lee.

During the first half, the FTSE-listed operator revised its full-year earnings to the range between £260-280 million, compared to the original target of £300-318 million, and William Hill’s share price fell from 410p in February to 281p this June.

William Hill governance states that the company will continue to expand its technology capabilities, outlining its recent £275 million joint-venture acquisition of OpenBet, market-leading betting platform provider, with Canadian firm NYX Gaming.

KPMG will be showcasing at SiGMA16, Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year. If you would like to come and see KPMG along with other exhibitors at this iGaming summit in November, click here to register.

EveryMatrix Announces Codeta Launch

EveryMatrix, a leading iGaming software provider, is proud to announce the launch of innovative brand Codeta, which targets table players with Live Casino solutions as its signature product.

Codeta is owned by Ihre Consulting, a company that works with over 120 gaming operators and more than 25,000 affiliates, and that started this ambitious project by raising more than €2million in exchange for 40% of the company’s shares.

Edward Ihre, founder of Codeta, said: “Our market studies indicate Live Casino products are on a continuous ascending trend and our present endeavor to challenge the online gambling industry by an original approach is singular. We have been working meticulously on this project for more than 13 months, including an unprecedented research-phase, so that we may be able to say now that we are not your usual online casino. We are the next big thing in the market.”

Codeta will benefit from GamMatrix gaming management and payment platform, and the CasinoEngine aggregator which offers content from several casino vendors that is seamlessly integrated into one single lobby and wallet, such as Evolution Live Casino, IGT, NetEnt, NYX, MicroGaming, PlayNGo, BetGames Live Casino, and others.

CEO of EveryMatrix Ebbe Groes stated: “Codeta is not your everyday casino and we are delighted they have chosen us to reach the market. Live Casino is the fastest growing segment within the gambling industry and is projected to have an annual growth of 18% globally up until 2018.”

CasinoEngine is the largest content aggregator on the market with more than 3,000 casino and live casino games from top providers including NetEnt, Bally, MicroGaming, IGT, Evolution Gaming, BetSoft and many others. All from one central back-office, CasinoEngine allows operators to flexibly create bonuses across several vendors, along with FPPs and wagering contributions.

EveryMatrix will be showcasing at SiGMA16; Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year. If you would like to come and see EveryMatrix along with other exhibitors at this iGaming summit this November, click here to register.

Francesco Rodano Joins Playtech

Playtech, a gambling software development company, has today announced that former Italian online gaming regulator, Francesco Rodano, has joined the firm’s executive management team as Chief Policy Officer.

Working out of the UK office, Rodano will report to Mor Weizer, the group’s chief executive officer.

Rodano’s new role will see him engaging with policy-makers to advise company executives on governmental policies at local, state, national and EU levels. Rodano will also be tasked with seeking out new business opportunities for Playtech’s growing international presence.

Playtech is set to benefit from over 18 years of experience that Rodano has gained from working with a number of different online businesses, with his last nine years spent at AAMS; the Italian gambling regulatory authority, where he was responsible for managing and leading the country’s online gaming regulation.

While at AAMS, Rodano reformed the Italian regulatory framework and oversaw the introduction of a comprehensive range of regulated online products, including poker in 2008 and casino games in 2011, attracting over 100 licensees to the market.

During his tenure, Italian gross gambling revenue grew to above €800 million, making it Europe’s second largest regulated market, with Italy becoming a successful case study for other regulators whose countries have or are soon to be regulated. In 2008, he was also awarded the IMGL’s Regulator of the Year award.

Since 2012, Rodano has been a member of the European Commission’s Group on Gambling Services, where he supported a draft of the formal initiatives recently adopted by the Commission.

Mor Weizer, CEO at Playtech, said “Thanks to his professional achievements and his personal stature, Francesco has become a highly influential figure in the international online gambling arena. We’re delighted he has chosen to join Playtech and I’m sure he will provide an invaluable contribution to the further growth of the company.”

Francesco Rodano said “After many years spent as a regulator, I’m excited to move to the industry side and to join Playtech at a time when focus on regulated markets is a global priority. Playtech has a talented and respected management team and I am really looking forward to supporting them on public policy matters.”

Betclic First to Receive License After Portuguese Online Sports Betting Market Officially Re-Opens

The Portuguese online sports betting market is once again open for business.

The Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos (SRIJ) has issued its first online gaming license to Betclic, a European operator.

Since the country passed new gambling laws in April 2015, the Portuguese market has effectively been closed to major online sportsbook operators. The SRIJ insisted that any operator expecting to be awarded an online gaming license was to immediately exit the market.

Betclic’s license shows that the process of re-opening the market has officially begun.
The license was issued to BEM Operations Ltd., a subsidiary of the Betclic Everest Group that is owned by the Lov Group and La Société des Bains de Mer; the organisation that operates gambling for the Principality of Monaco.

The license only permits sports betting, although in other regulated jurisdictions, the Betclic group also operates online poker. In April, EverestPoker.fr closed with players moved to Betclic.fr, both of which were on the iPoker France network.

The only poker operators to enter the market will be those with their own platforms, as the Portuguese laws don’t allow for online poker networks to be licensed. This means that Betclic and other operators likely to enter the market, such as Betfair, must make their profits from online sports betting alone.

If you are interested in purchasing tickets to SiGMA16, Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event this November, click here to register: https://maltaigamingsummit.com/register/

Lina Sennevall

Lina joined GamblingCompliance in 2012, and has since then specialised in reporting on European and African gambling markets. She has earned a reputation as one of the best reporters in the sector, and has spoken at a number of events in London. She graduated with a first class degree in journalism from Kingston University in 2012.

Lina will be a guest speaker at SiGMA15.

Chris Bonett

Dr Chris Bonett is a Maltese sports lawyer, currently serving as Vice President and Head of the Legal and Football Governance Department of the Malta Football Association.
Set up the Malta FA legal department in 2010, which department incorporates the player registration and TMS unit, the club licensing unit and the disciplinary unit.
Currently a member of the UEFA Control Ethics and Disciplinary Boday and a UEFA match delegate.
Regularly assists the Parliamentary Secretariat for Research and Innovation, Youth and Sport, and is in charge of the reform on the Commercialisation of Sports Facilities. Is also contributing on the drafting of the new National Sports Policy and represents the Government of Malta on the Council of Europe’s Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS).
A sports litigator, having successfully assisted numerous Maltese football clubs in front of the FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber and the Court of Arbitration for Sport of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Specialised in the field of anti-maniupulation of sports competitions, he has obtained the degree of Master of Law in Sports Law at the De Montfort University of Leicester, United Kingdom, after authoring and defending a dissertation entitled ‘FIXing the Beautiful Game: A critical analysis on the legal, regulatory and investigative mechanisms to combat match-fixing in football’.
A member of the British Association for Sports and the Law (BASL) and lectures third-year Bachelor of Law degree students at the University of Malta in the study-unit entitled ‘International and EU Sports Law’.
Specialisations: Sports Employment Law, Media Rights and Intellectual Property, Sports Regulatory and Sports Integrity.