Colorado sports betting and revenue up YoY in April

The state’s handle was comfortably ahead of $244.4m in April last year, but 22.4% behind the $505.6m bet by consumers during March of this year.

Of this total, $389.1m was spent wagering online, while $3.2m was bet at retail sportsbooks across the state.

In terms of gross gaming revenue, this was up year-on-year from $17.6m in April 2021, but 19.9% lower than $28.2m in March this year.

Online betting was responsible for $22.2m of this total with the remaining $379,972 coming from retail sportsbooks.

Breaking down performance by sport, basketball drew the most wagers, with the $146.4m spent by players representing 37.3% of all wagers placed during the month.

Baseball ranked second with $69.9m in total bets, or 17.8% of all wagers in April, then ice hockey with $26.0m, corresponding to a 6.6% share. Some $73.4m was also wagered on parlay bets.

Players won a total of $369.7m from sports betting during the month, while the state was able to generate $1.2m in tax.

ICE approaching capacity for 2023 nine months ahead of show

This means that the event is on course to match the size of ICE London 2020, which took place just before the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown in March 2020.

The demand in stand space stems from the success of ICE London 2022, which took place in April, as well as the return of major land-based suppliers.

The 2022 edition of the event saw gambling industry professionals from 158 jurisdictions, 59 countries and 410 exhibiting companies in attendance.

“We set ourselves some demanding targets in terms of engaging with our customers and I’m delighted to say those targets have been surpassed,” said Stuart Hunter, managing director at Clarion Gaming.

“It’s clear from the anecdotal feedback, from the independent research that we have commissioned and most significantly from the volume of re-books, that exhibitors at ICE London 2022 enjoyed a hugely successful return to the show floor after a two-year absence due to the Covid restrictions.”

Hunter added that several attendees re-booked their stand space during the ICE London 2022 show.

“The vast majority of attending exhibitors re-booked during ICE with a significant number requesting additional stand space, ” he continued. “The ICE brand is returning to its traditional February dates with vigour, determination and a real sense of purpose.”

“ICE London remains the event where ideas are formed, new strategies formulated and where the future is written.”

The 2022 show hosted many of the industry’s leading chatities and strategic bodies, including the European Casino Association (ECA), International Association of Gaming Advisors and the International Association of Gaming Regulators.

ECA chairman Per Jaldung praised the return of the show to its original dates, adding that the body will work with Clarion Gaming ahead of next year’s show.

“Everyone who was in the exhibition halls at ExCeL London was reminded of the energy and vitality of big in-person events,” said Jaldung. “ICE is the flagship global event for the industry and I am delighted that the exhibition is close to capacity so far in advance of it going live.”

“ICE is pivotal to the recovery of the land-based sector post-Covid and the ECA is working with the team at Clarion Gaming on a programme of symposia for industry suppliers and casino operators in advance of ICE 2023.”

The news follows the opening of the Elizabeth Line last week, which is set to reduce the journey from central London to the ExCeL to 12 minutes.

ICE London 2023 is set to take place on 7-9 February 2023 at the ExCeL London.

New Danish electronic ID scheme to launch in July

MitID will replace NemID, the online verification solution used by almost all Danish citizens since 2010 to log into online banking; communicate with public authorities; and prove their identity for digital services such as online gambling.

All licensees will be required to switch to MitID, an updated variant that has been developed in partnership between the public and private sectors. 

Spillemyndigheden said operators will be able to use both MitID and NemID for customer identification for a short period until the latter is phased out, allowing them time to implement the required changes.

The MitID identification system will apply to all licensed online sports betting and online casino activity in Denmark.

MitID was first announced in June 2020 when Spillemyndigheden urged licensed gambling operators to prepare for changes to the national identification scheme.

The new-look scheme was due to launch in May 2021 but was delayed by more than 12 months until the middle of this year.

Jersey Gaming Commission blacklists Football Index founder

The decision, which was backdated to come into effect from 6 April, will prohibit Cole from undertaking or holding any position in any business licensed by the Commission.

However, Cole can apply to the Commission to have the decision withdrawn or altered. 

The blacklisting comes after the Commission in March last year suspended Football Index’s licence pending an investigation into its activities. The Commission ruled BetIndex was no longer fit and proper to hold a licence in Jersey and revoked its licence in the following October.  

The Commission then investigated the “the fitness and propriety of” Cole, concluding that he should be blacklisted from participating in or working with gambling businesses.

Football Index collapsed in March last year after owner BetIndex went into administration, leading to its licence also being suspended by the Great Britain Gambling Commission.

This came after it was revealed in December 2020 that Cole was to exit his role as chief executive of Football Index at the end of 2020 as part of a “reset” of the business.

The subsequent fallout of the collapse of Football Index led to an independent report into the regulation of Football Index by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and sport. 

This report found that Great Britain’s Gambling Commission was too slow in its regulation of Football Index, and was unaware that operator offered a product it may not have been licensed to offer for more than three years. 

In March last year, the GC expressed a similar sentiment. It defended its decision not to suspend the license earlier, citing that doing so could have triggered a swifter collapse.

The GC also stated it was unable to pay back money lost by customers following the collapse of Football Index, saying that the only course of action available to players looking to recover funds is to go via the administrator Begbies Traynor.

Creating Responsible Marketing

Igaming is one of those areas that is incredibly well-regulated. Governing bodies and advertising standards agencies have put strict regulations and guidelines in place to ensure that all content is of the highest standard. Those who create marketing content for igaming therefore need to stay within the rules.

Responsible marketing is needed as ad campaigns are often what can drive conversions for a site. Whether they are encouraging new players to sign up or existing ones to redeposit to earn extra bonuses, marketing is at the core. Therefore, there is a degree of responsibility here to check that marketing campaigns do not accidentally target demographics they are not aimed at, or players categorised as high-risk when it comes to problem gambling. Successfully staying within the guidelines will allow operators and affiliates to create engaging and interesting marketing campaigns without putting the most vulnerable at risk.

Differentiate betweeen VIPs and players at risk

Operators need to keep an eye on their players to help identify those more at risk than others – no easy task as at-risk players’ spending habits may be similar to some VIP customers betting safely and within their means.

Both tend to make larger deposits than the average player, but they can be for very different reasons. A VIP gambler might be putting down bigger amounts to help meet the threshold to maintain their status. They could also be following a high-roller playing style: depositing more but with the aim of betting – and potentially winning – more. They might be depositing a lot, but they are still playing within their means.

There is a difference, however, in the way an at-risk player might deposit. When they deposit more, it could be because they are trying to win back what they have already lost. Unlike the VIP playing within their means, the at-risk player could be playing with money they do not have.

Therefore, it is vital that operators are able to recognise these different customer journeys. Support needs to be in place to offer interesting deals to VIPs and other safe players, but care must be taken not to target players that could be considered vulnerable. Rather than offering them a deal that could be misconstrued as a way of helping them out of their predicament, emphasis should be placed on offering them resources they can use to address the issues they have with gambling.

Creating bespoke safer gambling campaigns

This will therefore lead to operators investigating how they can create bespoke safer gambling campaigns. Ideally, marketers will look for ways in which they can promote safer gambling regardless of whether or not it is Safer Gambling Week.

A great example can be found at William Hill. As one of the UK’s largest casinos and sportsbooks, the chance of someone interacting with its marketing materials is fairly high. With this comes a responsibility to make sure its promotional materials have that safer gambling message in place. William Hill has actually chosen to allocate 20% of its TV coverage to promoting safer gambling.

Brands and affiliates need to have other measures in place. For example, all social media creatives and marketing materials need to include the new ‘Take Time To Think’ slogan together with the link that has replaced the ‘When The Fun Stops, Stop’ campaign. They also need to create safer gambling hubs to direct players who might have a problem to the right help resources.

The need to promote safer gambling goes beyond the brands themselves. Affiliate marketers need to understand the goals and targets for safer gambling that they have set out. When creating campaigns, affiliates need to promote the brand in a way that is compliant with safer gambling regulations, just as the operators themselves do.

There are many safer gambling resources already available, but marketers need to create a clear path between problem gamblers and these resources. Working with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), many of the UK’s biggest casino brands have developed rigorous safer gambling commitments and checks. With these, and those provided by self-exclusion tools like Gamstop, marketers should have all they need to build bespoke safer gambling campaigns that inform and engage players without encouraging them to gamble outside their means.

Demographic targeting

A lot of different factors go into creating a fantastic marketing campaign, one of which is demographic targeting.

Many operators and industry watchdogs are concerned about the number of ‘young’ gamblers, which includes both those over the minimum age threshold but who are potentially vulnerable, and also minors who attempt to gamble online. Marketing content should be age-appropriate, so marketers must make certain their materials meet the right standards. In terms of affiliate marketing, affiliates might receive creatives through their programme. Importantly, they still need to check that information and CTAs for safer gambling support are present on all marketing materials. Support from brands and affiliate managers should help them to lay out some of the dos and don’ts of creating good advertising materials that attract people to the operators while also supporting safer gambling.

One important channel that needs restrictions is YouTube. Brands and operators should ensure that any videos uploaded are age-restricted to those aged over 18 only. By doing this the age restrictions will hold in place – even if the videos are embedded on other sites.

There are even conversations as to whether or not we should treat gambling advertising and marketing materials in the same way that we do alcohol advertisements. This would mean raising thresholds to target those customers aged 25 or over instead. The younger, more vulnerable demographic would then be avoided. This, together with stringent age verification checks at casinos and affiliate sites, would help to reduce the number of young people seeing and engaging with gambling marketing.

Has COVID-19 had an impact?

Covid-19 has affected many aspects of the gambling industry, including how gambling adverts are perceived. It has been noted by many industry bodies that gambling increased during the pandemic.

Despite many sporting activities grinding to a halt, there has also been a sizeable increase in sports betting. Some bodies have voiced concerns about sports sponsorship. With sports such as football attracting fans of all ages and demographics, including those of primary school age, is it really appropriate for gambling operators to sponsor teams?

In addition to this, many have called for a reduction in the number of gambling ads shown on television. While these adverts must meet a strict set of criteria and can only be shown at certain times of the day, some still believe that they have no place on TV – even after the watershed.

To fight their corner, operators and affiliates will need to put the work in to ensure their materials are promoting responsible gambling as much as possible. As can be seen from William Hill’s lead, there is already a precedent for supporting responsible gambling while also ensuring that the safeguards are in place to create responsible marketing.

Creating responsible marketing

Responsible marketing campaigns are a must for every operator and brand in the igaming industry. They should be an intrinsic part of every campaign, not an afterthought. It is the responsibility of the operator to ensure that they have materials in place to help potential problem gamblers, but affiliates also need to ensure that their marketing campaigns also comply with the latest safer gambling guidelines at all times.

There are growing concerns about the impact, frequency and reach of gambling adverts. The onus is on marketers to ensure they are doing everything in their power to recognise players that are at risk, while also creating safe and interesting content for those who are not. Creating bespoke and safe gambling campaigns needs to be a priority as this will help to prove that the igaming industry is doing everything in its power to promote its products safely. This is not something that should be focused on every now and then, but an ongoing project that shifts and moves as the industry does in response to the wider public and political landscape. 

Sharon McFarlane

is managing director at Glasgow-based Digital Footprints, a digital marketing agency that specialises in content marketing, social media, UX design, website design, branding and conversion rate optimisation.

Tabcorp confirms senior management changes ahead of lottery demerger

Effective from the end of today (31 May), David Attenborough will retire as managing director and chief executive, with replacement Adam Rytenskild moving into both positions from tomorrow.

Attenborough had been due to leave Tabcorp in the first half of last year, in line with an announcement made in July 2020, but remained with the business for a further year.

Steven Gregg will also retire as chairman and non-executive director of Tabcorp today in order to take up the same roles with The Lottery Corporation, the name given to the soon-to-be demerged lottery business.

Bruce Akhurst will assume the role of chairman of Tabcorp from tomorrow (1 June).

Meanwhile, Adam Newman will step down as chief financial and take up the same role at The Lottery Corporation, with Daniel Renshaw becoming CFO of Tabcorp.

Patrick McGlinchey will also exit as chief legal and risk officer and co-company secretary of Tabcorp, switching to the same roles within The Lottery Corporation, though Chris Murphy will remain as company secretary of Tabcorp.

Brett Chenoweth, Raelene Murphy and Karen Stocks will be formally appointed to Tabcorp’s board as non-executive directors, while Harry Boon and Anne Brennan will step down from the board in order to become non-executive directors of The Lottery Corporation.

All of the changes were set out in the Demerger Booklet, which was released on the ASX on 31 March. The demerger is expected to be implemented on 1 June, with shares in The Lottery Corporation to commence trading on a normal basis on the ASX the following day.

Last week, the Supreme Court of New South Wales has approved the proposed demerger, clearing the way for the process to complete tomorrow.

The court approval came after Tabcorp shareholders earlier this month overwhelmingly voted to approve plans for the demerger

Tabcorp first announced plans to spin off its Lotteries and Keno arm in July 2021 following a strategic review of its operations. The review begun four months earlier and looked at structural and ownership options for Tabcorp to create more value for shareholders, including potentially selling off its wagering and media business. 

At the time, Tabcorp said a number of unsolicited proposals had been made for the division, including bids from EntainBetmakers and Apollo Global, but the business said none of these represented the true value of the division. 

While the review led to Tabcorp keeping the wagering arm, it instead decided to spin off the lotteries business, which would result in two separate companies. 

One of these businesses was renamed The Lottery Corporation and comprise most of the former Tatts business, but without gaming services. The second business was named New Tabcorp and includes the wagering and media arm alongside gaming services.

Sportech CEO Lindley to step down

Sportech did not confirm when Lindley would step down from the role but did state that he would continue to support the group in concluding certain current initiatives in the coming months.

Lindley, who only became CEO in September of last year, will also no longer stand for re-election as a director at Sportech’s AGM today (31 May).

“The board would like to thank Andrew for his professionalism and services to the company during his tenure as the CEO,” Sportech said.

Meanwhile, Sportech announced Richard McGuire, its current non-executive chairman, has been appointed as executive chairman with immediate effect. 

The changes following a number of other departures from the Sportech board in recent months Ben Warn stepped down as a non-executive director last week, while Giles Vardey left his role as independent non-executive chairman in April.

Also ahead of the AGM, Sportech provided an update for its performance in the first five months of the 2022 financial year, during which it said trading was in line with the board’s expectations. 

Sportech said sports betting continues to experience a high rate of growth and should result in betting handle for the group’s Connecticut venues operations come close to that of pari-mutuel for the full year. 

However, Sportech also noted that pari-mutuel wagering and food and beverage trade continue to feel the effects of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with trade below the 2019 full-year highs.  

In terms of online performance, record online growth in pari-mutuel betting experienced during the pandemic receded slightly as the effects of new forms of online gambling in Connecticut impacted the discretionary gambling dollar available to historic Sportech products. 

However, Sportech said the introduction of sports betting has been very positive, and its board is confident the group will achieve the projected overall improvement in its venues business to support a positive group EBITDA for the full financial year. 

In related news, Sportech said that as previously announced on 27 April, a payment of 7p per share has been made today to all registered shareholders on its register on 6 May 2022. The aggregate payment by the group was £7.0m (€8.2m/$8.8m)

Sportech plans to publish its interim results for the six months to 30 June on 1 September.

IBIA welcomes Africa’s Betking as latest member

BetKing will feed into the IBIA’s global betting integrity monitoring and alert platform, working alongside the IBIA’s network of other locally licensed members from around the world. 

Founded in 2018, BetKing holds licences in Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana.

“We are delighted to have joined the fight against corruption in sport and look forward to working with IBIA and our colleagues across the industry in tackling match-fixing and all associated fraudulent activity,” BetKing’s head of trading operations Karim Fatih said.

The addition of BetKing to the IBIA comes after the organisation last week also welcomed GAN-owned Coolbet as a member.

Other operators to have joined the IBIA in recent months include BetConstruct-operated sports betting brand VBet and online gambling operator ComeOn Group.

Together, IBIA members account for €115bn (£98bn/($123bn) in global annual turnover.

Prophet Exchange makes trio of hires ahead of NJ launch

Matt Stolarz will take on the role of director of technical product, joining the business from Caesars Entertainment, where he was as a senior software engineer. 

Prior to Caesars’ acquisition of William Hill in 2021, he was also a senior software engineer at William Hill, where he worked as part of a team to launch the operator’s sportsbook in New Jersey.

“I am beyond excited to join Prophet Exchange to help guide and build the first and best sports betting exchange product in the US,” Stolartz saud . “I am also looking forward to working alongside a brilliant and talented team of fellow sports betting industry experts. You couldn’t dream up a better product or a better team to come into.”

Meanwhile, Prophet hired Zhifeng Shi, most recently a software engineer at Compass, as its director of software engineering. 

During his time at Compass, Shi and his team designed and built an end-to-end transaction management platform from scratch within eight months. This platform is now powering more than 6% of annual US real estate transactions since its initial release last year.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to join Prophet to work with the product and engineering teams and to build the most reliable and trustable platforms to power the next revolution in US sports betting,” Shi said. 

In addition, Casey Halpern has joined the Prophet business as its director of social media and content.

Halpern previously worked for Action Network, where he managed and oversaw its social media channels. He also worked as a producer and researcher for NBC’s Football Night in America for the past five NFL seasons and has a history working with athletes and media personalities on their content, and building their social media profiles and audiences.

“I am thrilled to join Prophet Exchange; this is an incredible opportunity to help scale an important and innovative product that will be the first of its kind in the US,” Halpern said.

Prophet’s upcoming launch in New Jersey has been made possible through a market access agreement brokered with Caesars Entertainment in July last year. The exchange is due to go live in the state this summer.

Covid-19 pushes Belgian gambling revenue down 17.8% in 2020-21

Figures published by the Belgian Gaming Commission (Kansspelcommissie) showed revenue from the country’s regulated market amounted to €969.1m (£825.7m/$1.04bn), down from €1.18bn in 2019-20 and €1.12bn in 2018-19.

Some €595.6m of the total was attributed to online gambling, an increase of 27.9% on the previous year, whereas land-based revenue from retail gambling declined 47.7% year-on-year to €373.2m.

This marked the first time that online contributed more in revenue that offline, with the split being 61.5% for online gambling and 38.5% from retail.

Breaking down the annual performance further, online casino revenue reached €277.9m, accounting for 46.6% of total online revenue for the year. Online slot arcades generated €156.8m in revenue, up 26.3% year-on-year, while sports betting revenue jumped 27.1% to €161.2m.

Turning to retail and the decline here was put down to the measures placed on land-based gambling venues such as casinos, arcades and betting shops, as the Belgian government sought to slow the spread of Covid-19 during the heights of the pandemic.

Land-based sports betting was the leading source of revenue in this market, generating a total of €123.6m in revenue, or 33.1% of all retail revenue. Café revenue was €113.7m, or 30.5% of the market share, while arcades revenue hit €81.1m (21.7%) and casino revenue €54.9m (14.7%).

Looking at other key figures in the report, Kansspelcommissie noted 576,493 consumers would gamble online at least once a week during the year, up from 502,738 in 2019-20. The average number of unique players on licensed sites also increased from 113,302 in the previous year to 136,888. 

During the course of the year, a total of 162,985 new players signed up to gamble online.

In contrast, retail visitors fell from 11,167 to 10,684, with this figure also significantly down from 15,710 in 2019-20, before the pandemic hit.

In addition, it was revealed that 122 websites were added to Belgium’s blacklist of illegal operators, while 60 volunteered to block access to Belgian players.

“The year 2021 was marked by the ongoing health crisis and successive closures that again hit physical gaming establishments hard, having already seen their gross margin fall by 47% in 2020,” Kansspelcommissie chair Magali Clavie said.

“Online gambling did grow. In 2021, there were an average of 136,888 players online per day, twice as many as three years ago. This form of gambling now far surpasses physical gambling for the first time and deserves special attention because it is more accessible, both in space and time, and can pose a risk factor for gamblers.

“Therefore, it is more necessary than ever to protect the online players and gamblers by providing them with a safe and controlled gaming environment.

“Such an objective requires that every effort is made to prevent them from being tempted, consciously or not, to turn to an increasingly large and aggressive illegal offer that offers them no protection and undermines the channelling policy.”