IGT extends with Belgian National Lottery

The transition agreement will run for a maximum period of four years and cover LNB’s retail and online lottery offering.

IGT will continue to provide central systems technology and related lottery products across lottery and ilottery.

The renewal agreement will extend the partnership between IGT and LNB to more than 30 years.

“LNB has leveraged IGT’s technology and its expertise i to help modernise our business and drive growth for the last 30 years,” LNB chief executive Jannie Haek said.

“This extension ensures players will continue receiving the same high-quality experiences they enjoy at the retail point of sale and while playing online.”

IGT’s chief operating officer for global lottery, Jay Gendron, added: “IGT has worked with LNB to stay ahead of ever-evolving lottery trends and innovations. 

“IGT’s flexible core lottery and ilottery systems power LNB’s retail, digital and omni-channel sales. A variety of related components also support the Lottery in its efforts to offer players responsible and exciting experiences.”

Potential Global Gaming and PlayDigital sales

Earlier this month, IGT announced it was considering a number of “strategic alternatives” for its Global Gaming and PlayDigital segments.

IGT said its board was looking at potential alternatives that could include a sale, merger or spin-off of the two businesses. The group’s board will also consider both retaining and further investing in the segments.

The evaluation of alternatives, IGT said, will seek to unlock the “full value” of its portfolio but did not set a timeline for the review.

The group also said that there is no assurance the exploration of strategic alternatives will result in any transaction.

Better Collective eyes Boeskov and Rechtman as board members

Put forward by the business’s nomination committee, the motion will be discussed at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) planned for August.

Boeskov has worked in the gambling industry for over 20 years, serving in a host of senior roles. This included a short spell as senior vice president of strategy at Better Collective.

She spent most of her career at Kindred Group, where she worked from January 2005 to March 2022. Roles here included chief experience officer, chief operating officer and chief programme officer.

Rechtman is currently chief executive of Moonbug Entertainment, the business behind the “CocoMelon’ children’s entertainment brand.”

Prior to this, Rechtman worked as head of non-linear media for The Walt Disney Company International. He also had spells with Maker Studios, Goviral and TradeDoubler.

Transformation process

“I am very pleased and proud that we are able to attract these high profile and experienced candidates to the Better Collective board,” board chair Jens Bager said. 

“With our recently established vision to become the leading digital sports media group, it is crucial we add media competencies at the board level and strengthen the transformation processes to reach our goal.”

Better Collective also announced that Klaus Holse will step down from its board after the EGM. Holse has served on the board for six years.

“Klaus has been a strong sounding board for strategic matters, including our IPO, M&A, and the shaping of our new vision,” Holse said.

Exceeding expectations 

The proposal comes after Better Collective upgraded its full-year financial guidance for the second time in two months following a number of developments.

For the 12 months to 31 December, Better Collective now expects to post revenue between €315-€325m. This would imply year-on-year growth of between 17% and 21%.

This is an increase from the range of €305m-€315m set in April, which itself was upgraded from €290m-€300m following the acquisition of advertising company Skycon Limited.

The group also elected to raise earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) before special items guidance to a range of €105m-€115m. This would mean a year-on-year jump of between 24% and 35%.

This was up from the €95m-€105m range set in April after the Skycon acquisition, with the initial guidance having been set at €90m-€100m.

Playing the field with Stefano Vaccarino

But before entering the field of sports betting, he was in a totally different line of work altogether.

“I was working as a medical biller and coder,” Vaccarino says. “A pretty boring 9-5. I always loved sports; I studied sports management in college.”

During Vaccarino’s college years, daily fantasy sports (DFS) was making its way to the mainstream.

“I decided to create a Twitter account and start posting NBA picks and plays during my lunch break or whenever I could spare a minute.”

The Twitter account was anonymous, and it soon gained marginal traction. “Nothing huge,” he says. “Maybe a few thousand followers.”

Then a former classmate started following the anonymous account. Vaccarino messaged the friend and they reconnected. This rekindled connection led to a new job opportunity in the sports betting space.

Stefano Vaccarino, chief operating officer and chief marketing officer, FTN NETWORK

What followed was a veritable roller coaster. Vaccarino didn’t get the role; they offered it to someone else. But that candidate turned it down and he got the call. The company went under in February 2020 and he started to look elsewhere.

He then linked up with Kevin Adams, FTN Network’s CEO, and joined the team. Now, Vaccarino uses his skills in digital marketing and operations for FTN Network.

“Our goal with FTN is to build a sports betting and fantasy conglomerate,” he explains.

The company currently runs four websites. FTNFantasy, FTNDaily and FTNBets are B2C sites. Meanwhile, FTNData covers the business’ B2B wing.

Data all day, every day

Vaccarino hails FTN as a “data company.”

“We collect our own NFL data; we’re charting every snap of every single NFL game,” he explains. “It may sound cliché, but we literally have every single possible stat and point that one could get from an NFL game.”

FTN then cleans and polishes the data to make it digestible, “then our charters track the data, put it into a CSV, and it goes into a master admin.”

B2B customers can pay for that data through API. End-users of the B2C sites can access some of the data for free, but paid memberships unlock more data and benefits.

“On the B2C side, it’s a subscription on a ‘freemium’ model. We have a lot of free content on FTNBets, FTNDaily, and FTNFantasy.”

Paying for the service gets bettors and fantasy players access to tools, projection models, and other content. As of right now, the subscriptions for each site are individual, but Vaccarino hints at a future plan to combine them into one network called FTN+.

In all, businesses can benefit greatly from FTN Network’s data side.

“Clients connect to our API, and they receive our raw data updated in real-time,” he says. “On the B2B side, there’s really no work to be done by the end client.”

The offering can be tweaked to fit a client’s needs, too. “If someone wanted to, essentially, take the same game parlay calculator from FTNBets, we could put that on a client’s site. They’d pay for the data feed, and for that data and tool to be put in their branding.”

Catering to all

Vaccarino emphasises flexibility as one of the reasons for FTN’s success.

“There’s a huge gap in the market. Companies need affordable, reliable data.”

The size of the company doesn’t matter. It’s a simple necessity.

“Not every startup wants to shell out $20,000, $30,000 for an advanced NFL data package,” Vaccarino says. “Our goal is to cater to those smaller companies and fill their data needs.”

That certainly doesn’t preclude FTN from working with the big names, though. “Caesars is a client of ours, for example. Our clients range from Caesars to IDP Guys – a defense-focused fantasy sports site – and we love them both.”

FTN aims to cater to everyone with its data. And that’s not limited to business clients.

On the same team

But FTN isn’t just a B2B play. Individual users can benefit from the B2C sites, and Vaccarino has noted some interesting findings about your typical sports bettor or fantasy player.

“They’re basically the same person,” he says. “And we’re trying to cater to every single type of fantasy sports player or sports bettor.”

That means FTN’s tools have to run the gamut from basic tools to help the casual bettor to in-depth data that’ll strike the fancy of stats junkies.

“Maybe you have a fantasy football player who’s busy with work and at home… they can connect their league directly to our website, and they’ll get our projections to tell them what to do, who to pick up, who to play, and more,” says Vaccarino. “We have a trade analyser, too. It’s for people who don’t want to go too in the weeds with data, and would rather have us make informed decisions.”

The other models are equally flexible, allowing users to make their own decisions or let the data decide.

“If you just want picks, you can simply use our model,” Vaccarino says. “If you want to use our data to make your own picks, we can do that too.”

Offering data for fantasy and DFS does wonders in terms of channel crossover. “We educate fantasy football players on sports betting and DFS, so when they’re ready to make that leap into a different type of game, we expect them to do that with us.”

Cutting through the noise

Vaccarino comes from the marketing world. That anonymous Twitter account sparked a flame that grew into his eventual career. His background informs a lot of FTN’s strategy, which is important in such a saturated and fast-growing space.

“Especially for sports betting, the image of it has changed,” he says. “It’s not some guy sitting at a bar at 4 in the morning smoking a cigar in Vegas.”

“It’s clean, technology focused and fun. We’re trying to steer away from stigma and show that sports betting is fun and you can do it responsibly. You can better your chances of winning using our tools and our content.”

To drive organic traffic, Vaccarino and FTN put a lot of focus into SEO and advertising campaigns. “Then, once we have people on our site, we’ve seen strong conversion. We’re able to re-target people because our sites are very, very sticky.”

Paid memberships for FTN sites also include access to a Discord community, which is great for retention.

“People are able to talk to our experts, and our experts are enjoying the conversations, too,” he implores. “Because it’s a paid community it stays super focused and intentional. The goal is to make it feel like we’re all in this together. We can all win.”

Vaccarino says sometimes you’ll see the Discord community rally behind a bet, and win or lose, it’s a team mentality.

On the rise

As for social media marketing, Vaccarino says it has really changed. “It evolves every couple months. The algorithm changes. You have to produce content that people are going to pay attention to for more than a second.”

“You literally have less than a second to gain someone’s attention before they just scroll past without reading or watching. If we’re looking for people who like sports betting around the time of the NBA Finals, we want to produce content that is instantly captivating to those fans or bettors. If we can get someone to stick on a post for even 10 seconds, that’s a huge win.”

Looking ahead, Vaccarino wants FTN to remain on its steady growth path.

“We’re at about 280% subscription growth year-over-year,” he says. “It’s right around that number for all of the B2C sites. But really, the main growth is going to be on the data side and really building out our data product. Right now we’re just NFL-focused on the data side, so we want to expand to multiple sports by 2025.”

NBA, PGA, and NCAA basketball and football are at the top of FTN’s list.

“We’re trying to become a full data shop and offset advanced charting data for every single sport.”

Peru licence costs to triple as president signs gambling law

Last night (28 June), the Republic of Peru approved Law No 31,806, a set of amendments to the country’s gaming regulations, into law. The amended text will fix a number of gaps in the original legislation which effectively exempted foreign operators from tax.

One major shake-up is that licence costs are to rise to 3% of net income or Sol2.97m, whichever is higher. This is triples the previous Sol990,000 licence fee.

Point of consumption regime

The law also establishes a point-of-consumption regime. All online gambling businesses operating in the South American country are now required to use a Peruvian domain address: (.bet.pe/ .bet/ .com/ . pe/.com.pe). The law sets tax at 12% of revenue.  

all operators in peru will be required to use a domestic domain address

Under the new regulations, operators must put into place know-your-customer (KYC) requirements. This will involve verifying the identity, age and nationality of consumers accessing gambling services.

Players in Peru will now only be able to place bets on sporting events that are part of national or international sports associations, federations or leagues.

Additionally, the law also reforms the sponsorship rules. This means that only businesses in possession of a licence can sponsor teams or events.

The new law enters into effect 20 days from being published in the government gazette, on the 18 July.

Initial version of Peru gambling law

The initial law, which sought to regulate the online gambling sector in Peru, was Law No 31,557. In August 2022, the then president Pedro Castillo signed the legislation into law, which legalised sports betting and igaming in Peru.

The faced criticism from the country’s gambling trade body La Sociedad Nacional de Juegos de Azar (Sonaja), which highlighted the law did not have regulations for businesses not domiciled in Peru, effectively exempting foreign operators from the country’s 12% gaming tax.

Current state of play

With the new gambling regulations set to enter into effect next month, the many operators may be mulling the potential opportunity that the market represents.

The market at present already boasts a number of foreign brands. Betsson-owned Inkabet is active in the market. A 2022, survey by TGM Research named Inkabet as the brand which enjoyed the most market awareness among Peruvian consumers.

The same study also highlighted Bet365 as a business which most players in Peru were aware of. The market is also home to a number of domestic operators including Te Apuesto and Betara.

Spanish GGR hikes 51% in eventful Q1

Spain’s GGR is released quarterly by Spain’s regulator, the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ).

The total GGR for the quarter was also down by 2.7% from the previous quarter.

Most of the revenue – €143.3m – was generated by the country’s casino segment, a rise of 29.1% yearly.

A total of €130.6m came from Spain’s betting segment – a significant increase of 100.1% compared to Q1 2022 – while €3.3m was attributed to bingo, marking a decline of 6.6%.

For poker, the total GGR was €27.3m, up by 24.9% yearly. But the most critical rise came from the contest revenue segment, which hit €250,000 – an increase of 730.4% year-on-year from €30,000 recorded in Q1 2022.

First quarter expenses

Marketing expenses for the first quarter totaled at €93.3m, down by 0.8% yearly.

This consisted of €50.1m in promotions, €30.0m in advertising, €11.8m in affiliation expenses and €1.2m in sponsorship.

Sponsorship expenses grew the most, increasing by 93.1% year-on-year. Advertising expenses, meanwhile, decreased the farthest – falling by 12.7%.

During the quarter, the total active monthly player accounts was 1,158,628, which implies an increase of 11.0% yearly. The number of licensed operators active throughout the quarter was 78.

Epic and Entain to educate MLS players on gambling harm

Under the deal, Epic and Entain will work with the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA), the collective bargaining representative for MLS players.

The three-year program will include customised gambling harm education and awareness programs and advisory resources.

Epic will deliver gambling harm prevention education and awareness workshops. It will also make prevention resources, advisory resources and content available to the entire MLSPA membership.

Read the full story on iGB North America.

Nevada gambling revenue reaches $1.29bn in May

Revenue in the state was 0.8% lower than $1.30bn in May 2022 but ahead of the $1.16bn generated in April this year.

Slots remained by far the primary source of revenue for operators, drawing $877.9m worth of revenue, up 0.9% year-on-year. Multi-denomination slots accounted for $501.3m of this total, with penny slots generating $285.9m.

Revenue from table, counter and card games slipped 4.4% to $411.2m, with declines across almost all gambling types.

Read the full story on iGB North America.

Pennsylvania casino $35k fined for underage gambling

According to the PGCB, Individuals under the age of 21 were able to access the gaming floor and gamble. Chester Downs and Marina, operator of the casino, was fined $35,000 for the breach.

The PGCB also issued a separate fine of $13,000 to SportsHub. The licensed fantasy contest operator was ruled to have changed control of its license without PGCB approval.

In related news, the PGCB also announced banning orders for individuals who were found to have left children unattended while inside casinos. Those found guilty of such offenses are added to the state’s Involuntary Exclusion List.

Read the full story on iGB North America.

Norsk Tipping confirms departure of Eriksen as CEO

Eriksen was nominated as CEO of the Norwegian state-owned gambling monopoly in April of last year. He then assumed the role in September.

However, Eriksen will now exit the business to become CEO of Bane Nor, the government agency responsible for the Norwegian railway network.

Eriksen will remain with Norsk Tipping until 1 October. The monopoly has already launched a search to appoint a replacement. 

“It is with a heavy heart that I have made this decision, and the plan was clearly to stay in Norsk Tipping longer,” Eriksen said. “In one year, I have become very happy with both the social mission Norsk Tipping has and also our employees.

“In the same way as Norsk Tipping, Bane Nor has an important social mission. Overseeing a strong and future-oriented infrastructure on Norwegian railways is exciting and something I have chosen to accept.”

Sylvia Brustad, who was recently elected as the new chairman of Norsk Tipping, said that she regretted the news.

“It is sad for both the board and the employees that Thor Gjermund is leaving,” Brustad said. “He has done a very good job in the time he has led the company, and we would very much like to see him stay with us longer. 

“We wish him the best of luck in his new job.”

Stricter loss limits

News of Eriksen’s departure comes after the operator this month put in place additional loss limits for younger players.

As of 1 June, players under the age of 20 placing bets on Norsk Tipping’s platform are subject to a loss limit. Players are now permitted a maximum loss of NOK2,000 (£147/€170/$185) per month.

Norsk Tipping already had in place a NOK20,000 per month mandatory loss limit on all users across all games. The operator said the lower for younger players was due to this group’s increased risk of harm.   

Loss limits across Norsk Tipping’s sites traditionally differed It previously set certain limits for different verticals and games.

GGL changes leadership as battle with black market continues

Six months on from the GGL taking over all tasks as gambling regulator, the body will be updating the chair of its board of directors. This is in line with the Fourth State Treaty on Gambling, the interstate agreement which created the GGL.

Under the rules, the body’s leader changes every year on 1 July. Each chairman is chosen by a German state, which take their turns in alphabetic order.

GGL appoints new chairman

Sibbel reflected on the challenges ahead for the incoming minister.

“I see the chairman in a good position to be able to carry out the tasks assigned to them in issuing permits and combating illegal gambling offers on the internet, which is already clearly evident in the ongoing implementation,” he said. “The colleagues in the GGL have the fullest trust of all sponsoring states.”

Jorg Sibbel’s tenure saw many of the GGL’s early milestones

Sibbel chaired the GGL between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023. His tenure saw many of the regulator’s early milestones.

The chairman’s first day in office saw the organisation take over from its predecessor, the Saxony-Anhalt state department.

On 1 January, the organisation assumed all remaining responsibilities for regulating the gambling market. This involved taking over the day to day licensing and regulatory responsibilities from the various state-level departments where they had been nested.

The future chairman Udo Götze added: “All 16 countries support the GGL with conviction. Regulating the transnational gambling market in Germany is a challenging task. The GGL can also be sure of the support of the sponsoring states under the chairmanship of the state of Thuringia.”

Götze will be taking over an organisation that has spent the previous year working to mitigate the reach of the black market.  

Fight against unlicensed market

In addition to announcing a new chairman, the GGL has also released its annual report. The report includes its analysis of the state of the illegal market in Germany.

As of December 2022, there are 207 unlicensed operators in the country offering gambling services through 843 German language websites. Of these operators, 136 offer multiple forms of gambling, while the remaining 71 specialise in just one activity.

there are currently 207 unlicensed operators in the german market

In terms of where the operators base themselves, 37 work from within the EU and 147 are based outside.

Curaçao-based businesses represented the majority of non-EU organisations, at 132. However, 23 operators could not be traced to a single country.

The GGL said that it was forced to estimate the revenue totals. This, it said, was due to there being isolated evidence for the amount of business that the unlicensed operators conduct.

“It is assumed that the illegal websites recorded account for a market volume of between €300m-€500m, whereby these are mainly generated from the segments of illegal secondary lotteries, online casino games, virtual slot machines and sports betting,” said the GGL.

This represents approximately 2%-4% of the white licensed market in Germany. The regulator said it intends to publish a more detailed analysis of the illegal market in the autumn.

Cases test limits of regulator’s authority

The GGL has also spent much of the previous year in court as legal challenges test where the limits of the regulator’s authority lie. In February, the regulator’s ISP blocking order against Malta-based lottery betting business Lottoland was declared unlawful by a Higher Administrative Court.

a number of legal cases have tested the limits of the ggl’s authority

In March, the organisation won a Munich case that classified a televised sweep stakes offering as gambling. More recent cases include rulings which have confirmed the GGL’s remit over advertising and ruled that the body can penalise operators over affiliate violations.

Concerning the battle against the unlicensed market, GGL board member Benjamin Schwanke said: “We are successfully working together with all the key players in the fight against illegal gambling.

“Here, too, we always keep an eye on new developments, such as camouflage as a competition. The judgment of the Munich Administrative Court in the spring shows that we are not powerless against it.”

Board member Ronald Benter added, “We can look back on a successful first half of 2023.”

“We will continue along the path of consistent legal enforcement in the issuing of permits and supervision. The first court decisions confirm this. At the same time, we remain in dialogue with the industry regarding new challenges.”