Luckbox owner to acquire Asia-facing B2B platform

Real Luck Group will acquire 100% of the shares in the Asia-facing business, which it says will give it access to more than 6,000 games from 50 game providers.

Real Luck Group chief executive Thomas Rosander said that the business had long aimed to add a B2B element to its portfolio, but that through this deal it is set to accomplish this sooner than it had expected.

“Adding B2B to our proprietary platform has always been a significant part of the Luckbox strategy, and this important acquisition means we will complete this objective almost a year in advance of our projections,” he said. “It also extends our opportunities into APAC, a significant region that we currently do not have a presence in and perhaps the largest esports market globally. 

Real Luck Group CEO Thomas Rosander

“This transaction ultimately builds our business’ upside by providing immediate access to a large player base. This all-stock transaction further validates our strategic growth plan, with both companies sharing a common Luckbox vision. 

“The newly announced acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of the year, will further accelerate our growth and footprint in global markets as we head into 2023 and beyond.”

The deal is expected to close in December 2022.

Real Luck Group Q3 results

The business also announced its financial results for the third quarter of 2022. Still in the early stages of its player acquisition strategy, the operator reported $38,016 in revenue for the quarter, more than five times the total from Q3 of 2021.

After $15,619 in costs of sales, the business made a gross profit of $22,397.

Operating costs remained much higher than expenses, at $2.0m.

After non-operating income and expenses, including a $46,659 adjustment for foreign currency, Real Luck Group recorded a $1.9m loss for the quarter.

Rosander said he expected revenue to grow further in Q4, after the business focused mostly on acquiring customers in Q3.

“Q3 was about ramping up our player acquisition initiatives,” he said. “As reported, our record Q4 key performance indicators are a testament that our scalable plan is delivering above our expectations. We are already seeing significant improvements for growth in Q4 2022, as we now focus on driving additional player value, deposits and wagers on our platform.”

Penn Entertainment expands STEM scholarships to new HBCUs

Mississippi’s Jackson State University, Prairie View A&M University in Texas and Louisiana’s Southern University and A&M College are now participating in Penn Entertainment’s ESG initiative. 

Launched in November 2021, Penn committed more than $4m to STEM scholarships for students at HBCUs in states where it operates. Participants also gain access to internships. 

Virginia’s Norfolk State University; Maryland’s Bowie State University and Wilberforce University in Ohio were the first participating colleges and universities.

The scholarships and internship opportunities build on Penn Entertainment’s partnerships with 35 HBCUs across the US.

Diversity and inclusion efforts

In addition, Penn runs a $1m Diversity Scholarship Programme for children of its employees. Launched in 2020, 47 recipients benefited from the scheme in 2022.

The operator also formed a diversity committee in 2020, reporting into chief executive Jay Snowden.

Its diversity efforts increase opportunities on offer for underrepresented demographics, and increase participation in its Leadership Excellence at PENN Entertainment (LEAP) Programme. 

The operator established a diversity committee in 2020, reporting directly to chief executive Jay Snowden.

Justin Carter, senior vice president of regional operations for Penn and chair of the diversity committee, said the scholarships would increase access to STEM opportunities. Those involved will benefit from “real-world, hands-on learning experiences”, he said. 

Penn Entertainment also talked up the importance of STEM to its present and future, as a leading technology business. Alongside its land-based operation, it runs a mobile sports betting and gaming business stretching across North America.

“The addition of these three esteemed universities deepens our widespread support for HBCUs and expands our efforts to champion diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities where we operate,” Carter explained. 

“STEM careers make up a growing share of jobs in today’s economy, and we are committed to narrowing the representation gap in STEM fields and empowering students in this program for years to come.”

Maryland records 16.5 million geolocation transactions in first five days

Data published by geolocation and fraud prevention specialist GeoComply revealed activity across 477,365 unique accounts between November 23, the day the state’s market opened, and November 28.

The five-day period included the Thanksgiving weekend, and some 3.7 million geolocations transactions were recorded on Thanksgiving Day alone, with focus on events such as the NFL, NBA and the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Read the full story on iGB North America.

All Dutch operators ordered to stop cashback bonuses

As reported by CasinoNieuws, the KSA sent a letter to all Dutch igaming licensees which made clear that cashback bonuses are banned in the Netherlands as they can encourage “excessive participation”.

The letter pointed out that bonuses are covered by advertising laws, and therefore bonuses may not encourage “excessive” gambling.

“De Kansspelautoriteit has recently received signals that there are online licence holders who (want to) offer players a loyalty reward in the form of a cashback on their website,” the letter said. “This is not allowed, because a cashback bonus is a form of advertising that leads to excessive participation.

“A cashback bonus has a game stimulating effect. Offering a bonus where a player gets back part of his loss contributes to taking more risk. In addition, the bonus may reduce the perceived risk of gambling among players who are vulnerable.”

The regulator told licensees that they must confirm in writing that they have stopped offering cashback bonuses by 5 December.

Dutch igaming regulatory activities

Within the past week, there have been a number of other major events concerning Dutch gambling regulation besides the announcement on cashback bonuses. Yesterday, de Kansspelautoriteit handed Toto Online a fine of €400,000 (£343,793/$415,307) for targeting advertising at young adults in the country.

The KSA said Toto Online – owned by Nederlandse Loterij – sent messages to its entire customer base between 1 October 2021, the date the country opened its legal online gambling market, and 1 February of this year.

The ruling came after the KSA last week also took action against a number of operators, ruling they had broken various rules. KSA said that the offences took place in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.

Also last week, the Dutch government released a 2021 memo revealing that a number of online operators were under investigation for unpaid taxes covering the period before the Netherlands regulated online gambling.

Australian MP introduces bill banning loot boxes for under-18s

Wilkie, who has long been a committed advocate for reform, stated that he wished to sound the alarm about the controversial video game feature, calling loot boxes “an insidious gateway to gambling that’s being widely used to target out kids.”

“Many parents might not know that loot boxes feature in games such as Star Wars, Call of Duty, FIFA and even Mario Kart,” said the MP. “Indeed, research by the Australian Gaming Council found 62% of best-selling games contained loot boxes and that all young people surveyed had played a game featuring loot boxes.

“Disturbingly, the study also found that young people who have used loot boxes were more likely to have gambled in the last 12 months.”   

Tabled bill

The tabled bill, the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment (Loot Boxes) Act 2022, would ensure that any computer that contains a loot box must be classified as R18+ or else refused classification. This would legally ban games that include the feature for under-18s.

Additionally, if the amendment is passed into law, any video game that features loot boxes would have a consumer advice warning displayed on its packaging making clear that the game includes the feature.

“These companies are very smart and are making billions of dollars and that’s wrong. Speaker, clearly we cannot continue to let our children be groomed for future gambling in this way. No wonder governments around the world are beginning to wise up and take action, with loot boxes already banned in several countries, as pressure rises for regulation in many others.

Wilkie stated that the problem had been on parliament’s radar for “many years” and it was time to do “something about it.”

Loot boxes are an issue that has been previously controversial in Australian politics. In 2020, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs called for the national government to impose new restrictions on the feature in video games so as to protect children and young people from experiencing gambling-related harm.

Andrew Wilkie and gambling

Opposition to gambling has been a tentpole of Wilkie’s political career. The former infantry officer campaigned heavily against poker machines during the 2010 federal election, later agreeing to support the Labor party in parliamentary votes in exchange for two commitments against the “pokies”.

These two commitments were that the machines be integrated with a mandatory pre-commitment technology that would force players to commit how much they were prepared to lose before starting, and an AU$1 maximum bet per spin total for machines that did not include the technology.  

At the time, the proposals were opposed by the governing Abbot coalition government, and the Labor party itself dropped the commitments after gaining more seats in the House of Representatives.

888 to focus on fewer markets as it aims to cut debt

The comments were made ahead of 888’s Capital Markets Day, which will take place later today (29 November).

888’s new strategic framework is based around three phases – position, which looks at where the company is now in 2022, plan, which focuses on 2023-25, and potential, which looks to 2025.

888 CEO Itai Pazner

888 projects more than £2bn in revenue for 2025 and an adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) margin above 23%.

The company said that the revenue projection is based on an ongoing focus on a “refined”, smaller, number of key markets, as well as an aim to drive greater market share.

888 leverage ratio

888 also said that the financial leverage is “significantly above” the operator’s mid-term target of over 3x.

The business raised a large amount of debt when it acquired the non-US operations of William Hill earlier this year.

As a result, it said it aimed to cut its leverage ratio to 3.5x by 2025. The operator said this will be achieved through a “disciplined approach to capital allocation”.

William Hill synergies

The adjusted EBITDA target accounts for potential outcomes in unifying 888 and william Hill’s technology and operations.

888 also announced increases in cost synergies, which will consist of £150m in pre-tax cost synergies. In total, £34m of this is expected to be capital expenditure-related. Operating cost synergies are expected to be £87m.

“Today we set out our approach to unlocking the significant benefits of the combination of 888 and William Hill and I am pleased to share a more detailed view of our strategic direction and priorities,” said Itai Pazner, CEO of 888. “We are focused on building a customer-led business with a portfolio of world class brands that provide complementary offerings, supporting our ambitions to drive market share growth in some of the most attractive betting and gaming markets in the world.”

“Our long-term potential remains exciting. Building our unified tech platform will present us with real future growth opportunities as we take advantage of our world class brands, product and content leadership, and customer excellence to set our business for the next decade of growth.”

Last month, 888 reported a yearly decline of 7% in revenue, which was partially due to the operator’s exit from the Netherlands and UK safer gambling measures.

888 Capital markets day

The Capital Markets Day will consist of presentations from 888’s executive team, who will relay updated strategies and goals for the operator. This will include an update on 888’s £1.95bn acquisition of William Hill’s non-US assets, which closed in July this year.

The acquisition was finalised after it was approved by shareholders in May.

888 acquired the assets from Caesars, which had bought the entirety of William Hill last year with the intent to sell everything except its US business.

Rush Street Gaming hands senior HR role to Pettit

Based out of Rush Street Gaming’s headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, Pettit will lead efforts to standardise and scale best practices in workforce development at the business’s portfolio casinos in four states.

Pettit joins Rush Street Gaming from Hard Rock Casino, where was regional vice president of human resources and oversaw multiple properties in states including Virginia, Illinois and Indiana.

Read the full story on iGB North America.

Webis Holdings considers M&A activity to support future growth

The business recently completed a comprehensive strategic review of its operations and key goals. This identified growing the B2C sector as Webis’s main aim, with a view to at least doubling player numbers within the next two years.

Webis said its executive team is also currently conducting a detailed strategic review of its B2C operations, with the idea of investing more in software development, marketing and related resource to grow this area faster.

Read the full story on iGB North America.

Altenar brings in Quaye as new chief financial officer

In his new role, Quaye will lead Altenar’s Isle of Man office and work with other members of the provider’s senior management team to further develop key areas of the business.

Quaye joins Altenar after more than six-and-a-half years with Delphi Trust, where he served as both managing director and CFO.

Prior to this, Quaye spent just under three years as a director of Douglas Trustees in the Isle of Man, while he also had spells as head of corporate services for Stuart Smalley & Co and CFO at Canman.

“Whilst still relatively new to Altenar, what struck me was the strong team environment across multiple jurisdictions,” Quaye said. “Altenar is a company made up of many experts in different fields coming together to deliver a great product with a great service. 

“There is a real pride in what we do and we celebrate Altenar’s successes as a team.”

Altenar chief executive Stanislav Silin added: “I am excited to announce that John will be at the forefront of the operation in the Isle of Man, and he will build a team underneath him that can support the pace of growth we are seeking to achieve. 

“The CFO is highly visible and a sign of our ambitions to continue to scale the business.”

The latest senior hire comes after Altenar this month also announced the appointment of Antonino Barra, formerly chief operating officer of Together Gaming, as its new head of sales.

IBIA signs up Bet99 as latest member

Bet99 will now feed into the IBIA’s global betting integrity monitoring and alert network, working alongside a host of licensed operators from around the world.

Ontario approval

The announcement comes shortly after Bet99 secured approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and iGaming Ontario to offer online gambling services in the Canadian province.

Membership of an integrity body such as IBIA is a requirement for Ontario licence-holders.

“Joining IBIA, the world’s leading independent integrity monitor, is critical to our sportsbook strategy, in which trust, integrity and protection are prioritised for our Canadian customers,” Bet99’s head of sportsbook André Bewerungen said.

“We are delighted to combine forces with IBIA to combat foul play in sports, as well as betting related corruption and manipulation, providing our customers a safe and enjoyable environment

IBIA chief executive Khalid Ali added that the move showed that IBIA was the integrity monitoring body of choice for most Ontario operators.

“The move highlights Bet99’s commitment to integrity and further cements IBIA as the leading integrity monitor in Ontario, with more than 75% of licensed online betting operators having joined the association. 

“IBIA looks forward to collaborating with Bet99 both in Ontario and within the operator’s wider international betting operations to safeguard those markets from fraudulent betting activity.”

Bet99-Kings Entertainment merger

In September, Bet99’s parent Sports Venture Holdings secured conditional approval from the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) to proceed with its proposed business combination with Kings Entertainment Group.

Under the agreement, which was first announced in May of this year, Kings, which operates LottoKings and WinTrillions, would combine with SVH and operate as a single business.

Meanwhile, the IBIA has announced a number of new members in recent weeks including online horse racing and sports betting brand ZEturf Group and Mohegan, the group formally known as Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.