Intralot EBITA up 29% in Q1 as business continues Covid-19 recovery

Intralot outlined its progress in Q1 on a number of objectives including the return to profitability, continuing earnings growth and a reduction in the business debt to EBITDA ratio to 3.6x. The company took on significant debt over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The business put the EBITDA growth down to its “strong growth” in its US operations, as well as an improved performance in Turkey.

Chief executive and chairman Sokratis Kokkalis said the results provided “additional momentum to Intralot’s successful turnaround story as a result of our consistent efforts in the past few years.”

intralot chief executive and chairman Sokratis Kokkalis

Kokkalis highlighted the company’s plans for future growth.

“With healthy financials and new technical capabilities offered through next generation solutions for lottery digital transformation, in both the retail and online worlds, we look forward to timely addressing upcoming maturities, further improving our capital structure, and implementing an ambitious plan for strong and sustainable growth in the US and key markets around the world, creating value for all stakeholders,” he said.

Intralot Q1 results

The business achieved €83.4m in revenue for the three months ending 31 March, a 4.5% increase from the €79.8m it recorded in the same period the previous year. This was despite the business’ turnover falling 8.4% to €89.5m during the period.

Revenue from the business’ lottery operations was the largest segment at 60.4%, In comparison, the business’ other verticals sports betting (17.5%), video lottery terminals (12.5%) and IT products and services (9.5%) remained small.

Intralot outlined that 87.5% of the company’s revenue resulted from supplying businesses or governments with its services. The business received 12.5% of its revenue from the operation of gambling services.   

The business’ operational expenditures stood at €22.7m, up 3.9% from the €21.8m the company recorded in Q1 2022.

After paying tax revenue to the state, the business received €3.1m in Net Income.

As of 31 March, Intralot has €471.6m in debt on its books, compared to the €500.6m the business recorded in the prior period.

Crown agrees AU$450m penalty over AML failings

Crown’s agreement to the enforcement action marks the conclusion of a process that began over a year ago, as the business faces continued regulatory scrutiny over its historic AML failings.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), the government agency responsible for detecting and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system, said in a statement that the settlement has been filed with the Federal Court of Australia, which will consider the penalty at a scheduled hearing in July.

crown resorts’ melbourne property

The agency said that in reaching the agreement, Crown has admitted that it operated in contravention of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) at both Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth.

Breaches discovered since Austrac began its investigation last year, included failing to appropriately assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks they faced, and to identify and respond to changes in risk over time.

Matter for the court to decide

While the parties agreed that the A$450m is appropriate, Austrac emphasised that it is a matter for the court to determine the appropriate penalty.

Nicole Rose, Austrac’s chief executive, said it is important that casinos adhere to strict rules as the sector is at risk of exploitation by organised criminals seeking to clean money obtained through criminal acts including the sale of illicit drugs, scams and human trafficking.

“Crown’s contraventions of the AML/CTF Act meant that a range of obviously high-risk practices, behaviours and customer relationships were allowed to continue unchecked for many years,” Rose said

“Crown has sought to respond to the failures identified in these proceedings by enhancing its approach to ML/TF risk management and investing in its financial crime compliance. We continue to work closely with Crown to ensure that their AML/CTF program and systems are compliant and fit for purpose into the future.”

Crown AML failings

Austrac commenced civil penalty proceedings against Crown Resorts over allegations of “serious and systemic” AML and counter-terrorism financing failings in March 2022.

Over the course of its investigation, Austrac identified numerous contraventions of AML rules including failure to have appropriate risk-based systems and controls in their AML/CTF programs to mitigate and manage the money laundering and terrorism financing risks they faced, and failure to establish an appropriate framework for board and senior management oversight of their AML/CTF programs.

Crown did not have a transaction monitoring program that was appropriate to the nature, size and complexity of their business, while its enhanced customer due diligence program lacked appropriate procedures to ensure higher risk customers were subjected to extra scrutiny.

The group also did not conduct appropriate ongoing customer due diligence on a range of specific customers who presented higher money laundering risks.

Crown has faced a number of regulatory issues in recent times, with two eight-figure fines imposed in Victoria since the start of last year. The group was found to be “unsuitable” to operate in both Victoria and Western Australia following local investigations.

In June 2022, Crown was acquired by private equity giant Blackstone in a deal worth AU$8.87bn.

Blackstone completed the acquisition after obtaining approval to run a land-based casino in the three states where Crown operates – Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia – with shareholders, state regulators and the Federal Court of Australia also approving the deal.

Can LeoVegas help MGM take the lion’s share?

The official conclusion of MGM’s acquisition of LeoVegas was a year in the making. For Hagman, it couldn’t have come soon enough.

“This time last year, MGM made a bid for LeoVegas,” he explains. “Then there was a four-month period until the completion date in September.

“During that time, we could prepare but we couldn’t execute anything. We could only prepare to be part of the world’s largest integrated resorts group.”

Although it was by all means “overwhelming”, it was worth the wait for Hagman, who reveres what MGM has to offer.

“They [MGM] have a big part of what is known to the world as being the strength of Las Vegas,” he says. “Of course, it’s been an overwhelming year in that sense.”

Pride of lions

Through the acquisition, LeoVegas now has access to MGM’s IP rights

It’s difficult to overstate the enormity of a company as historic as MGM acquiring, by Hagman’s own admission, a company with “roughly 1,200, 1,300 employees”.

Hagman says the acquisition opens LeoVegas’ studios up to creating a whole host of new games for players, having now gained access to MGM’s IPs.

“MGM opens up a lot of IP rights,” he says. “They’re iconic. We believe a lot of people around the world will be able to identify these brands.”

As for how these new games will be supplied to players, Hagman explains how Push Gaming – the slots operator that LeoVegas recently entered into a deal to acquire – will factor into the process.

“We had suppliers in-house previously, called Blue Guru Games and Leo Studios,” says Hagman. “Together with Push Gaming and our own team, we hope to be able to build even more games internally.”

Out on a limb

Push Gaming marked LeoVegas’ first acquisition since LeoVegas was acquired by MGM.

As a new acquiree, Hagman knows that choosing Push Gaming came with the added pressure of not just affecting LeoVegas’ operations, but also MGM’s.

“The strategy is to take over a large part of the value chain in this industry,” Hagman explains. “Then it becomes natural for us to look at games suppliers, maybe payments suppliers.”

“Eventually, we focus on the gaming supplier side. We had been looking at several games suppliers, but we liked Push and the team over there.”

Hagman views the acquisition as an opportunity for collaboration across a number of areas

This signifies a new opportunity for LeoVegas and MGM, which will see the companies push their games out even further – and acquire more customer data in the process.

“It means that we can supply our own brands, be it LeoVegas or Expekt,” Hagman clarifies. “It also means that we will learn a bit more about our customers.

“For instance, in the Nordics, they play games differently to how they’re played in the UK, versus Germany, versus Spain. We’ll learn a lot about that when we’re collecting our data, meaning we’ll be able to offer a more personalised experience for the countries we’re present in, for our customers.”

This process began last month, when LeoVegas launched its sports betting brand, Expekt, in Denmark. According to Hagman, the brand performed better in its first 10 days in Denmark than it did during the same period in Sweden.

Going global

Despite the admiration for MGM, Hagman is direct about this being a deal that has culminated in a give-and-take relationship between both companies, almost like a partnership.

“They [MGM] are coming from a land-based perspective and they are the masters, the black belts of land-based casino,” he continues. “Now they’ve acquired LeoVegas, who are black belts in digital and online casino.”

In other words, LeoVegas has as much to offer MGM as MGM has to offer LeoVegas – particularly in areas of core growth.

“MGM acquired a company that is a decent size,” Hagman explains. “We have nine different licences, but we also have our own technology and we have a platform. I think that was one of the core reasons for the LeoVegas acquisition.”

This signifies what Hagman sees as the most important facet of this deal – a coming-together of two companies for a common goal. But this, he says, must be evidenced by actual growth.

“In their eyes, they want to have a decent sized, well-managed company that is dedicated to taking LeoVegas to the next level,” he explains. “We give that – together with MGM – by continuing to look at growth.”

Hagman says LeoVegas’ offerings – such as its own technology and its licences – played a part in the acquisition

The next steps

As expected with a deal of this calibre, Hagman has high hopes when it comes to how MGM and LeoVegas will operate in the future.

“They are very supportive,” he says. “There are great opportunities there.”

Much of this hinges on what MGM can offer LeoVegas, across a number of operative areas.

“MGM is supportive in bringing LeoVegas up as a global brand, to continue our mission in having the world’s greatest igaming experience,” he says. “That is not only in customer acquisition, it is also in product and the experience of our customers on site.”

For Hagman, a level of pride has come with this deal. He recognises what LeoVegas can bring to the table and is keen to bolster the brand, but he pays equal attention to how MGM can make LeoVegas’ offerings even better.

This outlook affords admiration, but also – crucially – respect.

“It’s a nice story – two lions coming together, two prides.”

SiS extends German Tote content deal

SiS said the extension with Germany’s leading horse racing betting broker provides it with continued access to premium content from across retail and online channels.

Major German races, including Hamburg’s famous Deutsches Derby, will be made available to SiS’ partners worldwide.

Conall McSorley, SiS’ head of international horse racing, said: “We have established a strong relationship with the German Tote and we are delighted to extend our partnership over the long-term.

“Our racing portfolio is of the highest quality and we believe that our customers will enjoy the top-quality action we can continue to provide them with from Germany.”

The extension with German Tote adds to SiS’ content from over 170 racecourses and tracks from five continents, including meetings from Europe, Africa, Latin America and the US.

Riko Luiking, managing director at German Tote, said: “It’s great to have secured this agreement for the long-term across online and retail, as it helps to showcase German racing to a huge international audience.

“We look forward to continuing to work together, providing excellent, competitive entertainment around the clock.”

Earlier this month, SiS announced it had struck a deal with Media System Technologies (MST) to distribute the Italian Gallop Derby to operators in the UK and Ireland for the first time. It has also agreed sponsorship deals with leading races in Argentina and Chile in recent weeks.

SkyCity to launch review of AML/CTF programmes

The state’s Liquor and Gambling Commissioner, Dini Soulio, has directed SkyCity to appoint a “suitably qualified expert” to review its AML/CTF and problem gambling policies at its SkyCity Adelaide property.

The expert is to monitor both SkyCity’s implementation of new enhancement programmes as well as the casino’s compliance with its ongoing money laundering and gambling harm minimisation obligations.

Independent monitor of SkyCity AML initiatives

Soulio said he issued the direction after “careful consideration” of the allegations made in the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre’s (Austrac) prosecution of SkyCity for AML/ CTF failings.

skycity has been directed to review its aml/ctf policies and programmes

In that case, Austrac said the operator demonstrated a pattern of “serious and systemic non-compliance” with the country’s money laundering laws.

Following the financial intelligence agency’s decision to open civil penalty proceedings against SkyCity, Hon Brian Martin’s review of SkyCity Adelaide’s suitability to hold a casino licence was placed on hold pending the case’s outcome.

While the review paused, Soulio said he would be considering his options regarding any action deemed appropriate.

“After evaluating all the material and considering SkyCity Adelaide’s responses to my concerns, I feel it is appropriate for SkyCity Adelaide to demonstrate it is meeting these important regulatory obligations,” Soulio said.

The CBS said that the independent monitor will be empowered to seek amendments to the organisation’s enhancement programmes “if it is not satisfied with their contents”. Such amendments are to be subject to the Commissioner’s approval.

Not a matter taken lightly

“This is not a matter that I have taken lightly,” Soulio said.

“I believe it’s important that the people of South Australia can have confidence that SkyCity Adelaide, as the licensee of the Adelaide Casino, is operating effectively to minimise gambling harm and ensure compliance with all anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulatory obligations.”

“SkyCity and SkyCity Adelaide will continue to cooperate with consumer and business services and any further requests for information and documents,” said SkyCity in a statement.

Sportech revenue up to $68.7m in first four months of 2023

In a trading update ahead of its annual general meeting being held later today (30 May), Sportech said that sports betting experienced a “stable rate of growth” during the period.

Richard McGuire, executive chairman of Sportech, said that focusing on the operator’s pari-mutuel licence has allowed it to expand its reach across new markets.

“We are delighted to share the news of our strong start to the year, which can be attributed to the outstanding efforts of our management team,” said McGuire. “By capitalising on our exclusive pari-mutuel betting licence, we have successfully tapped into a new demographic of sports betting enthusiasts, opening up valuable cross-selling opportunities.

“The addition of sports betting as part of our product range has played a pivotal role in ensuring the financial stability of our venues and paving the way for fresh avenues of growth.”

McGuire added that Sportech was set to begin its collaboration with the new Connecticut sportsbook provider. Sportech’s Venues business operates across the state.

“Our entire team is unwavering in our commitment to enhancing our business and delivering maximum value to all stakeholders involved,” he continued. “With great anticipation, we look forward to collaborating with the new Connecticut sportsbook provider as we approach an exciting period brimming with potential for collective success.”

Pari-mutuel handle fell by 5.1% to $32.3m. Sports betting handle increased by a considerable 16.7% to $36.4m. Alongside this, Sportech’s US sports betting hold is ahead of budget to date.

Last month, Sportech reported revenue growth of 13.5% to £26.0m.

Casino dashboard: May 2023

A close call but the expected toppling of Starburst by Sweet Bonanza at Easter didn’t quite materialise. The sticky-toothed challenger made it to the second spot but has since dropped back –so maybe this time next year if predictions are allowed a year’s grace.

It’s all about the Bass again this month as a “hold and spinner” variation assured Pragmatic of three fishy titles in the top 20. From the Games Global stable a couple popped into the charts mid-month: Tippy Tavern (Snowborn Games) and the catchy Granny Vs Zombies (PearFiction Studios) but it’s Fire And Roses Joker by Triple Edge Gaming that looks the most promising and seems to have picked up the baton from Gold Blitz.

Top 20 games by distribution

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Luxor Gold Hold And Win (Playson) makes an appearance for the first time, edging out sister title Book Of Gold Multichance and while not quite featuring this month, there are high hopes next for 9 Pots Of Gold Megaways (Gameburger Studios).

There’s been a fair bit of elbowing in the top 10 in recent weeks but the big news is that crash game, Aviator (Spribe), now has a top 10 spot – one which it is likely to “own” for some time. The game represents a category and seems to be a “must have” for operators and unless usurped by another crash game, it is unlikely to be demoted any time soon.

There are now 70+ crash games from 43 studios – still a tiny figure in the context of the nearly 28,000 casino games available.

The top 10 list of all crash games is shown below. Aviator’s nearest competitor is Spaceman which benefits from Pragmatic Play’s extensive distribution network. Other good performers come from studios such as Betsoft Gaming, Elbet, Bgaming, Gaming Corps and Ad Lunam plus parent company 1X2 Network.  

It’s interesting to note that some of the latest releases such as Triple Cash Or Crash, Maverick and Aviatrix (just outside the top 10) are all strong performers.

Game (Supplier)Rank primary pagesRTPMultiplierRelease dateAviator (Spribe)197.0%20,00001/02/2019Spaceman (Pragmatic Play)296.5%4,99924/03/2022Triple Cash Or Crash (Betsoft Gaming)396.0%100,00006/04/2023Maverick (Ad Lunam)497.0%10,00016/03/2023Rocketman (Elbet)598.5%20,00001/09/2022Space Xy (Bgaming)697.0%10,00013/01/2022Skyliner (Gaming Corps)797.4%10,00026/05/2022High Striker (Evoplay)898.0%1,00001/08/2019Crash Out Fireworks (1X2 Network)996.0%2,50025/07/2022Balloon Run (Spinmatic)1095.0%1,00024/01/2022

Most crash games work to a generous RTP, averaging 1% higher returns than the average slot game. Multipliers on winnings are similar at around 10,000x. Most games have an aviation/space theme but there are a few novel variations on the genre, deploying the same mechanics to balloons, dinosaurs, cricket matches and rodeo.

On the deals front 7777gaming, Rogue, Gamomat and Apparat Gaming have ramped up their distribution efforts but it is Endorphina that remains the busiest studio dealmaker over the last six months.

Biggest studio dealmakers

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The platform Slotegrator holds on to the top aggregator spot, just ahead of Lucky/Reevo, which looks set to take that crown in the next couple of months.

Biggest aggregator dealmakers

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* Please note these are live charts that update every month so please ensure the month of April 2023 is selected in the drop-downs to match the analysis.

**The interactive games chart at the top excludes live games and table games. Game rankings are determined by the number of game appearances on the casino homepages of more than 2,200 casino sites. To access many other charts including game rankings, live and table games, positions on subpages or to filter game performance by game theme, game feature, market or operator, please get in touch with our partner, Egamingmonitor covers 47,000 games, 1,400 suppliers and 2,200+ operators.

***Data on deals by month was collected from April 2020 onwards and the rolling chart reflects current dealmaking performance, i.e. how many deals were signed over the last six months. Note that only deals either a) on company websites or b) in the gaming press or c) reported to us by studios and aggregators, are collated. Deals between studios & aggregators (and aggregators & operators) from all time are available via

Swedish licensed operators generate SEK6.6bn in Q1

The total figure – which consists of players’ bets minus paid winnings – for the three months to 31 March 2023 was identical to that generated in Q1 2022, although down on the three most recent quarters.

Commercial online gambling and betting was worth SEK4.2bn, which was down slightly on Q1 2022. State lottery and slot games, the second biggest vertical, was up slightly year-on-year to SEK1.4bn.

Games for public purposes and national lotteries, the third biggest vertical, was down by 6% to SEK812m.

At the end of the quarter, just under 92,000 people were banned from gambling via Sweden’s self-exclusion platform, This was an increase of 8% compared to the previous quarter.

The Swedish Gaming Authority continuously collects and analyses data to monitor trends in the gaming area. Data on turnover for games for public benefit purposes is collected by the Gambling Inspectorate. For actors who are liable to tax, the turnover figures are based on information about tax decided from the Swedish Tax Agency.

Swedish regulator’s director general has tenure extended

On 17 May, the Swedish government decided that it would extend Rosenberg’s appointment at Spelinspektionen until 31 October 2026.

Rosenberg was first appointed as director general of the then-named Lotteriinspektionen in October 2017, having been named acting director general in April that year.

Lotteriinspektionen became Spelinspektionen in 2019, following the re-regulation of the Swedish market.

“It feels good to be able to continue working on launching the various parts of the reform and taking the continued important steps for a well-functioning Swedish gambling market,” said Rosenberg.

Rosenberg held various managerial positions, including chief legal officer, at Swedish Energy Agency before joining the Lottery Inspectorate in 2015 as head of operations with responsibility for licensing and supervisory activities.

Last week, Spelinspektionen came into new regulatory powers, which are designed help it combat illegal gambling in the industry. Payment providers will be required to submit certain information to Spelinspektionen. This includes details on whether their systems are being used to process payments to and from unlicensed operators in Sweden.

It was also announced that Spelinspektionen would receive an increased grant to help strengthen its activities against illegal gambling. 

Gaming Corps obtains Swedish B2B licence

Gaming Corps’ B2B licence, which was granted on 25 May, will be valid from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2028.

The group’s application was made in March due to new regulation, which is set to come into force on 1 July, that makes it mandatory for Swedish suppliers to have one of these licences.

“It is gratifying that more and more markets are going for clearer regulation, with a focus on healthy gambling,” said Juha Kauppinen, chief executive of Gaming Corps.

“It is very gratifying that we received our Swedish licence and that we are approved five years from now.”

The change to Swedish rules comes after Spelinspektionen announced a new process for authorising B2B supplier licences earlier this year. This aims to encourage customers to play within the regulated market, by removing technology operators as an option for the black market.

The application process for new licences opened on 1 March this year. The application fee is SEK120,000.