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Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Merger to be Completed in Autumn

The merger between betting and gambling company Ladbrokes and casino operator Gala Coral Group is set to be completed this autumn after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed that the two firms are to divest between 350 to 400 shops.

The CMA said in its final judgement: “Having considered responses to its provisional findings published in May and further analysed the evidence, the group of independent panel members investigating the merger has, in a summary of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) final report, identified 642 local areas where it may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition.”

In the summary, it is stated that the merger could lead to a worsening of the offer made to customers, at both a local as well as a national level.

It went on the say that: “To address these concerns and preserve competition for the benefit of customers in these local areas, Ladbokes and Coral must sell around 350 to 400 betting shops to one or more suitably qualified up-front buyers, which must be approved by the CMA. As many of the problematic local areas overlap, the sale of a betting shop in one local area may also remedy the competition concerns in the overlapping area.”

Before the merger can go ahead, the sales must be substantially completed.

Martin Cave, Inquiry Chair, added: “We’ve found that the merger between two of the largest bookmakers in the country would reduce competition and choice for customers in a large number of local areas.

“For these customers, competition comes from the choice of shops in their local area and they would lose out from any reduction of competition and choice. Discounts and offers of free bets to individual customers are two of the ways betting shops respond to local competition which could be threatened by the merger. Such a widespread reduction in competition at the local level could also worsen those elements that are set centrally, such as odds and betting limits.

“Although online betting has grown substantially in recent years, the evidence we’ve seen confirms that a significant proportion of customers still choose to bet in shops – and many will continue to do so after the merger. We therefore believe that a sale of shops of this scale is needed to protect these customers.”

There was always the likelihood that the CMA would insist on betting shop sales, but the bookmakers will be more than happy with the judgement, given that some estimates suggested that the number would be as high as 1,000. The sale of these shops, which was already identified months ago, will now be accelerated in order to allow the merger. Boylesports and Betfred have been touted as potential buyers.

Ladbrokes said: “Ladbrokes welcomes the announcement by the CMA that the merger with the Coral Group can proceed subject to the sale of 350-400 shops. This is a significant step forward and we will now begin to talk in earnest to potential buyers for these shops. We remain on track to complete the merger in the autumn.”

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

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.

Tipico Launches Prepaid Deposit App in Germany

Tipico, international sports betting and casino games provider, has strengthened its service offering by launching a brand new prepaid payment application for customers 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 will be made 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.

The app was developed in partnership with Funanga, provider of white label cash solution “Cash to Code”, which will be featured on the application itself.

After downloading the app, Tipico customers must simply select the amount they want to deposit, and a Cash to Code barcode will appear on the display, which is then used as a confirmation of their deposit when paying that amount in cash at a cooperating sales outlet.

Once the code is approved by the outlet, the player’s account with be credited accordingly and they will receive a notification from the app itself to confirm that the transaction has been successful. All transactions are secured by high-level encryption and the customer’s personalised account credentials.

Tipico is based at the Portomaso Business Tower in St Julian’s, Malta, and is regulated and licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). The company has branches in Germany, Austria, Croatia, Gibraltar and Colombia. Tipico.com, additionally, operates in Malta, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Tipico will also be one of the main exhibitors at SiGMA16, Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year. If you would like to come and see Tipico along with other exhibitors at this iGaming summit this November, 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.

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.

Bet365 Increases its Grip on Italy’s Online Sports Betting Market

According to new estimates released by the AGIMEG news agency, Bet365, online gambling operator, has tightened its grip on Italy’s regulated sports betting market.

In the month of May, Italy’s overall sports betting market took in wagers of €562.4million; 15% higher than the same month last year. Sports betting turnover totalled to €2.9billion for the year-to-date, up from €2.5billion in the first five months of 2015, with online wagering accounting for €1.6billion of 2016’s total.

In may, total online wagers were up nearly one third at €317.4million, of which Bet365 claimed just below €120million for a share of 37.1%; a 1.4 point improvement over its Q1 share. Bet365’s total was enough to make it the top overall betting operator, easily shadowing SNAI–Cogetech Group’s combined online/retail total of €80million.

With €32million, Gala Coral Group’s Eurobet brand ranked a distant second on the online chart, well ahead of SISAL’s third placement with €23.9million, while SNAI’s €21.5million edged out William Hill by a mere €200k.

SNAI-Cogetech Group was the retail betting leader with €58.4million, while Lottomatica placed second with €41.4million, with Eurobet not too far behind with €39.5million.

With wagers totalling €95.3million, the second highest total this year following January, May was a strong month for virtual betting products. Betting exchanges were only approved in 2014 in Italy, but despite the relatively small base, this year has shown strong growth. In May, exchange wagers totalled around €400k, but the year-to-date number is up by more than a third over the first five months of 2015.

Bet365 will also be showcasing at SiGMA16, Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year this November. If you would like to come and see Bet365 along with other exhibitors at this iGaming summit, click here to register.

Bitcoin Hits 2-Year High Amid July’s Supply Shrink Forecast

Bitcoin has hit a two-year high, making its way past the $680 mark on Monday and hitting $689.87 with 15.65 million bitcoins in circulation. This is its highest since September 2014, when the cryptocurrency went on a free-fall from more than $1,000 per single bitcoin.

Concerned about their country’s economy resulting in the depression of the Yuan, the Chinese are still the main factor behind the unrelenting surge in the bitcoin price. According to CoinDesk; the world leader in news and digital currency, the increased investment among Chinese traders is believed to account for 95% of the current bitcoin trading volume.

The scheduled shrink in digital currency supply is another reason behind the spike. Chinese exchanges Huobi and OKCoin expect that in July, profits from mining bitcoins will be reduced due to a process called “halving”, which limits the total amount of bitcoins that could be created.

Created by Satoshi Nakamoto, the rules in bitcoin’s code dictate that 21 million coins will be released throughout the digital currency’s lifecycle, which is, in a way, aimed at counteracting the endless printing of paper currencies.

To this date, a total of 15.5 million bitcoins have already been created, and it can be safely assumed that, given the hype that digital currency is getting right now thanks to the increased attention from venture capitalists and banks on block-chain technology, there’s no way but up for the price of bitcoin.

888poker Signs the World’s Greatest Online Tournament Player

888poker yesterday announced that Chris Moorman, the best player in the history of online poker tournaments, has been newly signed as an ambassador for the brand.

With more than $13 million in winnings as well as a record breaking 25 triple crowns, it’s no surprise that he would be in demand to represent a prominent internet site such as 888poker.

Moorman, now easily found online under his new screen-name “888moorman”, spoke about the opportunity to join the site, saying: “My manager started speaking with an 888 representative and when she proposed the idea to me I was incredibly excited. 888 is doing big things and really is working hard to expand their reach in poker. Things like sponsoring the WSOP and the Super High Roller Bowl have shown they are committed to their growth of the brand and I can’t wait to see what they have coming up in the future.”

Back in February, as a member of the Global Poker League’s London Royals, Moorman topped a field of 777 entries to win the 888 Sunday Challenge for $18,840. Not only was this the score that put him above the celebrated $13 million mark in online tournament winnings, but it also marked his second largest score on the site; he had won the same event on 20th December 2015 for $19,720.

His biggest online cash ever was in 2011 when he finished third in the Full Tilt Poker Special $1,000 Monday event with $235,592; marking one of his four six-figure online scores.

The signing comes exactly one year after 888poker brought Dominik Nitsche on. Moorman is excited to join him, as well as the likes of Kara Scott, Sofia Lövgren, and former Brazilian World Cup star Denilson, as members of Team 888poker.

“They are all great players and ambassadors of the game,” Moorman said. “Also they all gave such a warm welcome to the team and I am excited to represent the site alongside them. Dominik is one of the best players in the world; to have won 3 bracelets at his age is an incredible achievement. I’ve known Kara for a long time and [she] does an incredible job presenting and is a great poker player as well.”

Moorman also revealed that he will start streaming some 888poker final tables on Twitch, which his many fans will surely follow.

888Poker will be showcasing at SiGMA16; Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year. If you would like to come and see 888Poker along with other exhibitors at this iGaming summit in 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.”

SiGMA signs new strategic partnership with Cash Game Festival

Cash Game FestivalCash Game Festival will be coming to Malta in June following its four successful festivals in Tallinn, Estonia and London, UK since 2014. The next stop for the Cash Game Festival is Casino Malta by Olympic Casino, and will be partnering up with SiGMA to promote the event.

The festival will be held between the 8th and 12th of June. SiGMA and Cash Game Festival will be supporting each other through media exposure. It is greatly beneficial for Malta to keep attracting such gaming events; it is currently host to about 300 gaming companies, 450 licenses, and a strong workforce of 10,000.

When asked about the partnership, SiGMA’s Managing Director Eman Pulis enthusiastically said: “Love the initiative. Love the energy behind the guys organising this festival. It was only natural for Dennis and I to support such a great event. More of this!”

The Co-founder of Cash Game Festival, Martin “Franke” von Zweigbergk added: “For us at Cash Game Festival a partnership with SiGMA means great exposure with a great partner. SiGMA has established Malta as a natural meeting spot for the Gambling industry, and we at Cash Game Festival are sure that this agreement leads us to even bigger possibilites to show the world poker events that includes 100% Cash Games and 100% fun side activites.”

Cash Game Festival

Cash Game Festival in London

The 5-day festival will kick off with welcome drinks at the casino bar and continue with TV tables and even the first Poker player Bowling Challenge on the second day. The third day offers a day on a private rented catamaran when one can enjoy the bar, food sunbathing and TV tables, topped off with the opening game of Euro16 back at the casino and a VIP party. Day 4 sees more TV tables as well as a pool party and a dinner, and the fifth and last day offers even more TV tables and a guided tour of Malta’s beautiful capital city Valletta.

Throughout the festival, the Poker Managers will register guests on a first come first serve basis, so if you would like to cut the lines and secure a seat and direct access to the tables, click here to register: <http://www.cashgamefestival.com/registration/>

Early Bird tickets for SiGMA16 are available till the end of May. Click here and register today!