EveryMatrix Slot Trumps: The story so far

iGB and EveryMatrix have brought you four countries in the Slot Trumps series to date, so it’s time to reflect on what we’ve learned about the markets covered.

Stian Enger Pettersen, CEO of casino for EveryMatrix, outlines the most interesting datapoints, and what’s surprised him along the way.

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FairPlay Sports Media announces Quarter4 purchase

FPSM underwent a rebrand from Oddschecker Media Group last week, and has now announced its first purchase. The price of the deal for the Toronto-based Q4 remains undisclosed.

Q4, founded in 2019, specialises in predicting sports outcomes, as well as providing unique data and content opportunities.

FPSM says the move aligns with the company’s objective to “transform BetTech”, benefitting consumers, publishers and operators worldwide.

FPSM brands will leverage Q4’s prediction technology in combination with the group’s price movement data across “millions of sports events”.

Stuart Simms, FPSM’s group chief executive, declared: “The acquisition of Quarter4 is a significant milestone for our group, giving our various brands the ability to unleash our already market-leading data and tech platform with the unique insights and smarter behavioural analytic capabilities of Q4.

“Pioneering BetTech is critical to our future strategy and ambitious growth prospects, and bringing Quarter4 into the group can act as the catalyst for many new and improved product developments in the coming months and beyond.”

Kelly Brooks, Q4 chief executive and co-founder, added: “Having successfully partnered with oddschecker as a client, we’re now very excited to begin this deeply integrated working relationship that will pave the future for highly differentiated user experiences.”

FPSM looking to utilise technology and data

q4’s new march madness 2024 product is expected to provide significant benefits for fpsm partners

In the rebrand announcement, Simms revealed FPSM intended to place more emphasis on using technology and data in its operations.

FPSM will test new business models, while potentially exploring an ad-free service. It will also focus on consumer improvements over the next three to six months. FPSM stated the changes would result in more users who “deliver more lifetime value to operator, media and distribution partners”.

Simms said: “The launch of FairPlay Sports Media allows us to empower our customers to better compete in sports betting, while delivering significant efficiencies and added value to our partners through the use of our game-changing betting technology.”

In a follow-up call with selected media, Simms said that future investments would not be in the B2B gaming sphere. FPSM will instead make deals within data, machines and AI, as well as products to increase insights and analytics.

‘It’s showtime!’ – BetMGM bets big on the UK

BetMGM launched in the UK in August in partnership with MGM-owned LeoVegas to much fanfare, and five months on, the results have spoken for themselves.

With a series of flashy sponsorships that have well and truly put BetMGM on the map in the UK, its Las Vegas ties have been put on show for all to see. Despite the high expectations, BetMGM has still managed to surpass Behar’s initial lofty projections.

“It’s been an unbelievable first five months entering the UK – especially given the way we did,” Behar says. “We had a unique ambition to make things work and we’ve certainly made a big splash, which is excellent.

“Of course, we always thought it would – but it’s made a much bigger impact than even we could have anticipated, and even though we had high hopes, we even exceeded those expectations. It’s fair to say punters really like our product, especially the Vegas experience that we’ve brought to the UK.”

So how has BetMGM managed to make such a huge impact in such a short period of time? Research is the answer, as well as a strong emphasis on providing what the UK market has lacked in recent years – entertainment and engagement for punters.

“We are a very data driven business – and we employed a significant amount of data to make our decisions,” Behar adds. “We’re seeing punters particularly engaged by our exclusive content, such as the MGM Grand Gamble slot game, which is a very exciting development. This is particularly the case given our position in sports betting.

“To be able to position things like that in the market means we’ve got a real ability to engage customers. Once you put all that together, you’ve got so many ways to engage customers across multiple verticals.”

BetMGM brings Vegas to the UK

BetMGM has a hugely iconic brand in the US, boasting especially strong ties to Las Vegas, where the MGM Grand and Bellagio continue to flourish.

However, Behar is keen to emphasise BetMGM UK’s need to build its own separate identity, while also maintaining the brand pillars that have made it so successful in the US.

“Our goal is to bring the US elements over while building our own UK-based identity,” Behar states. “Of course, customers really like the glitz and Americana. Ultimately, our goal is to create a new golden era in the igaming space.

“We’re looking to bring something bigger, bolder and more exciting for the UK. We truly believe this is one of the biggest launches the UK has seen in the last 15 years, and we’re here to make a difference.”

A typically ostentatious advert, featuring comedian Chris Rock and a lion on a golden speedboat going down the River Thames, marked BetMGM’s arrival in the UK, certainly leaving an impression. For Behar, though, the advert also highlighted exactly what BetMGM’s brand is hoping to be in the UK.

“Looking at our launch ad, I think overall it’s a fairly transparent gap that we believe we’re filling,” he continues. “No one is as entertaining as we are. We believed everyone needed a brand like ours.

“We want to cater to everyone; our aim is to build a product that can entertain all of the UK. In short, we want to offer a proposition that others can’t in the UK.”

BetMGM’s product focus

Putting out the best product possible is one of BetMGM UK’s core objectives, with what Behar labelled a “golden offering” allowing the brand to better engage with UK customers – and help to pry them away from the clutches of operators already established in the market.

“When we’re turning up with the best prices in the market, as well as with industry-leading promotions, including golden prices, price boosts, acca bonuses and Golden Goals to the UK market – which offers the chance to predict six games across the Premier League with a £2m (€2.3m/$2.5m) prize, you can see why we aim to be the biggest in the UK.”

“On top of that, our US background, along with our world-class mobile UX from LeoVegas, which has won multiple awards and is developed using our in-house IP, and we start to have a real differentiator.

“Add in our acquisition of the studio Push Gaming last year, as well as our price point and promotional schedule – along with one of the best loyalty programs, and you can see how we’re making something special.”

Sponsorship and casino a focus

Making an entry into such a well-established market like the UK can be daunting for operators, as they look to compete with brands such as Paddy Power, Sky Bet and bet365.

But looking at the sponsorships that BetMGM has already managed to agree, it already appears that Behar and co have made a dent. Again, BetMGM is looking to align itself with not only the best, but also the most entertaining sports clubs and brands in the UK.

“We want to be as memorable as possible before the whistle goes off,” Behar adds. “We have deals with Premier League clubs Manchester City, Wolves, Brighton, Aston Villa and Newcastle. You’ll see the MGM brand at all of those stadiums.

“On top of that, we are also the title sponsor of the darts Premier League. This was a deal we were working on for a while, and now that we can see the popularity of darts over Christmas at the World Championship, it’s easy to see how we’re looking to align with the best entertainment possible as well as supporting UK sport.”

BetMGM’s deep casino history is a real key differentiator for Behar, believing the operator’s offering is the best in the UK.

Behar highlighted the BetMGM Millions jackpot that is currently the world’s biggest available online casino jackpot, as well as the Golden Wheel promotion, which offers punters the chance to win a trip to Las Vegas.

“Without a doubt, the Vegas proposition is a real strength of ours,” Behar stated. “We’re seeing multiple different types of users engaging with what we have to offer – and our strength of brand opens up so many new types of audiences to that conversion.

“Once you combine entertainment, with that classic element of Americana, you’ve got every reason to use sports, casino and the live element too.”

BetMGM looking to shake up UK market

The UK market’s rapid growth of yesteryear has stalled somewhat, with giants such as 888/William Hill and Bet365 announcing disappointing financial reports, reflecting a wider stagnation in Europe.

Too many operators neglecting the purpose of entertaining punters is the answer for that in Behar’s view, identifying a clear gap in the market for BetMGM to make its mark.

“We can see that the UK has turned very stale over the last 5 years, with most tier one operators acting like financial services brands,” Behar says. “We’re changing that – and no one is as Vegas as we are.

“Looking at our legacy, it’s easy to see what a core differentiator that can be, or as we say – ‘what happens in Vegas is too good to stay in Vegas’. We represent the golden era that made that city great, and we’ve carried it over here.”

That strategy is proving fruitful too, with Behar confident that BetMGM’s early success will continue in 2024 and beyond by sticking close to its principles of providing a fun experience for punters.

“We’ve got everything we need to succeed,” Behar added. “We have the strength of brand and product, as well as the ambition and capital to invest.

“We’re hugely confident that our customers enjoy the fantastic entertainment we have to offer and we are fully confident that the amazing success we have seen thus far will continue.”

BetMGM well-placed to deal with white paper uncertainty

The release of the Gambling Act review white paper in April 2023 was a landmark moment for the UK industry. But the proposed introduction of affordability checks and stake limits led some to be concerned over the future of UK gambling.

For Behar, though, he still sees the UK as a market with big potential, with BetMGM well-placed to deal with new measures should they come in thanks to its strong relationships with regulators, as well as its previous responsible gambling work.

“Given we launched here six months ago, we definitely believe that the UK is a growth market,” Behar says. “Looking at the market – it can certainly be called saturated given the amount of operators we have here, but there’s also plenty of potential, just as we have seen with the success of our launch.

“If you can work collaboratively within the framework outlined by the Gambling Commission (GC), you can certainly thrive, just as we are doing.

“When it comes to affordability checks, we jumped the gun on this one and put this in place at the very start. We have a close relationship with both the GC and the Betting and Gaming Council, as well as a dedicated responsible gambling team working with our customers.

The future

So how does BetMGM aim to build on its exciting first five months in the UK? The answer to that is threefold for Behar, who is keen to continue BetMGM’s product-led strategy in order to grow its engagement with punters and become one of the “UK’s best entertainment brands”.

“The first is to continue strengthening our position in the UK – as well as building out the market share we’ve already acquired,” Behar declared.

“The second is to continuously develop our product offering. At our heart, we’re a tech business. A third of our group works in product and technology, and it’s our mission to ensure everything we develop is from a customer-first basis.

“Third, the acquisition of Push Gaming means that we have a unique position to grow and develop, as well as having our very own games studio to entertain the UK with proprietary content.

It’s still early stages for BetMGM in the UK, but it’s fair to say the initial signs have been positive, with fans seemingly enticed by the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas that Behar and BetMGM have managed to bring over.

Behar’s “showtime” remark serves not only as an exciting declaration of intent from BetMGM in the UK – but also a reminder that the existing UK market may have to buck up its ideas in order to match BetMGM’s entertainment factor.

Caesars agrees tribal deal to launch online sports betting in North Carolina

The operator is set to go live when North Carolina launches its online sports betting market on 11 March. Ahead of the launch, the Caesars Sportsbook app will start accepting sign-ups and deposits from 1 March.

On 24 January, the North Carolina State Lottery Commission approved the launch date of online sports betting. The market will be live for those aged 21 and over in time for March Madness. Charlotte in North Carolina is set to host some of the tournament’s early-round games.

Caesars already has two land-based locations with the tribe, with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy. As part of the expanded deal, Caesars will now hold exclusive rights to mobile sports wagering at those two casinos, as well as on Eastern Band of Cherokee tribal lands in western North Carolina.

Eric Hession, president of Caesars Digital, lauded the company’s long relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Hession also spoke of his excitement at what the expanded deal will provide for both parties.

“Our relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has spanned more than two decades,” Hession said.

“Expanding this longstanding partnership allows us to build on the premier sports wagering experience enjoyed at our in-person sportsbooks by bringing a responsible way to enjoy sports at a deeper level to the hands of North Carolinians 21 and older across the state.”

Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, added: “We are excited for this new venture with Caesars Entertainment and the enhancements it provides to our Tribal enterprise.

“We look forward to the continued opportunities that will benefit the future of our membership.”

Caesars the latest to make North Carolina move

The launch of North Carolina’s online sports betting market is now less than two months away. Caesars has followed the likes of BetMGM and DraftKings in striking an agreement to allow it to launch.

Operators seeking approval to run sports betting must partner with a sports team, league or venue within North Carolina.

DraftKings announced a partnership with Nascar, becoming the exclusive daily fantasy sports partner of the stock car racing company. BetMGM, meanwhile, agreed a market access deal with Charlotte Motor Speedway in early January. Located in Concord, the complex regularly hosts Nascar racing.

Additionally, Fanatics Betting and Gaming announced a deal with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, while fantasy sports app Underdog will partner with McConnell Golf to support its application for a licence.

ESPN Bet signed a deal to become the Quail Hollow Golf Club’s official betting operator. As part of the deal, ESPN Bet became the official betting operator of the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina.

Dylan Slaney on leading Light & Wonder iGaming

“When I came into the industry in October 2017, people told me about how quickly it moved,” Light & Wonder’s Dylan Slaney says. He hasn’t dragged his feet since entering the sector either. 

Slaney rocketed up the gaming ladder since starting as executive vice-president of gaming at NYX Gaming Group. When Scientific Games acquired NYX, he progressed to senior vice-president of gaming at SG Digital. Scientific Games then went through a significant overhaul. This included divesting its sports betting and lottery divisions and carrying out a high-profile rebrand

Light & Wonder emerged from this process as a leaner, more focused gaming business across three divisions. Land-based, social casino arm SciPlay and iGaming – the division Slaney leads as CEO – reports to group chief executive Matt Wilson

Essentially with one employer Slaney has progressed through three major strategic evolutions and is ready for more. “Leading the igaming business is a privilege and one I am very proud of every day,” he says. 

Increasing complexity in igaming

Light & Wonder has undergone wholesale change and the industry Slaney entered in 2017 is markedly different. A sector where dot.com markets once loomed large was reshaped by a wave of dot.country regulation. This is to the extent countries such as the US and Brazil – once seen as completely off-limits – are now major growth opportunities. 

“As we only operate in regulated markets, for every market we operate in we must tailor our offering according to those regulations,” Slaney explains. “This can dictate anything from spin speeds to bet limits and reporting, for instance.”

This adds a new level of complexity to Light & Wonder iGaming’s business. Although with the ultimate goal of better protecting players, Slaney points out. “Keeping players safe from potential harm is a great benefit of regulated markets and we offer our full support to this endeavour.”

But there has to be balance, he argues. “Too much regulation drives the wrong outcome. Low stake limits, to give one example, ultimately drive players into the black market. 

“That is not a good outcome for players or the industry. When it comes to enhanced controls for responsible gaming, such as affordability checks which the industry has embraced, again these have to be balanced and measured,” he continues. “Only then can we all ensure that players who do play responsibly can continue to enjoy the best of what this amazing industry has to offer.”

Innovating around regulation

In Great Britain, Light & Wonder takes an active role in developing and reshaping the market. It led the Gambling Commission’s working group on an industry code for product design alongside Playtech.

the Wonder 500 relaunches lIGHT & Wonder TitLES optimised for tightly regulated markets

By potential changes, brought in through the Gambling Act white paper and resulting consultations, it aims to build new products factoring in a new era for UK gambling. 

“It’s been interesting to see how different brands and types of content would be impacted and also how players play different types of content in terms of session lengths, stake levels and so on,” Slaney says. 

Light & Wonder’s Wonder 500 series is the result of this research. Stakes are limited to £2 per spin. Wins are also capped at £500 and there is a more frequent bonus hit rate, balancing the lower stakes model. “The impact has been very positive, with players responding really well to this new game style.”

Igaming races forward

Regulation is reshaping the industry, but a fresh wave of complexity comes from evolving player expectations. And coming from customer data science specialist Dunnhumby – UK readers may have heard of one of its projects, the Tesco Clubcard – he’s aware of the level of sophistication that goes into retaining and engaging consumers in other sectors.

“The biggest trend we are going to see impacting igaming over the coming years is enhancing player engagement through additional features that sit on top of a core game,” Slaney explains. “We have already seen a number of these hit the market, but offerings like multiplayer, personalisation and unique rewards will be what players will increasingly want and expect from their igaming experience. 

ELK Studios’ Pirots is the perfect example of great content combining with innovative mechanics, Slaney says

“They have this today in other digital verticals and it will become something they will demand more of.”

Content remains crucial just as it does in console gaming or other forms of entertainment. But being able to do more, or get more, from the experience will shape the next phase of gaming, he adds. 

For example, ELK Studios, a business acquired by Light & Wonder two years back, has enjoyed a record-breaking year thanks to the CollectR payout mechanic. This is featured in its Pirots and Pirots 2 titles. 

“Both of these games set new records and Pirots 2 is the best-ever launch we have seen in the UK and EU,” Slaney says. “Seeing how players responded to this new mechanic, how these games have created a real franchise and watching new players play Pirots for the first time, has been intriguing.”

It’s an example of two forces converging. Strong content dovetails with new mechanics, to fuel player engagement. 

Light & Wonder’s growth arm

As CEO of Light & Wonder iGaming, Slaney is tasked with driving that growth. The supplier’s refocused outlook makes online a key component of its future prospects. With revenue up 21% year-on-year in Q3, it’s the fastest growing division, outpacing SciPlay (up 15% in Q3) and Gaming (up 11%). 

However, with Q3 revenue coming to $70m, it still lags behind SciPlay ($196m in Q3) and Gaming ($465m). There’s work to do for Slaney’s strategy of combining unique content with new ways of engaging consumers. 

Distribution deals with the likes of crash games pioneer Spribe and unique content including a Squid Game slot – Netflix’s first gaming licensing deal, to be rolled out as a land-based machine first – certainly help. There’s also significant competition in the market, including online-only peers without the level of compliance guardrails a fully regulated provider such as Light & Wonder faces. 

If Slaney and his team face a hard road ahead, it’s something he welcomes. “I’m a firm believer that from every win or good decision you learn something but from every setback, failure or bad decision you learn even more,” he says. 

“You must teach yourself to truly go back and learn why something didn’t work, do something different next time and take ownership of things you are accountable for. I learned this very early on from a great mentor and it is a principle that has helped me throughout my career.”

What drives Light & Wonder iGaming’s CEO?

This belief in accountability and treating every success and failure as a learning experience was instilled in Slaney from a young age. 

“I’ve shared this before with a number of my colleagues but never externally. I have never known my father and grew up with my mum, the real inspiration, and sister in a single-parent household,” he explains. 

“My mum had, and still has, real steel and an attitude that you go out and earn everything in life. You put in the hard work, you don’t look to others and you set your own destiny. Nobody else in life defines who you are going to be.”

This mindset has shaped his career and his life, he says. “It’s the one thing I hope [my three daughters] have in their DNA: never take anything for granted and go and be the best they can be.”

Equally it’s an ethos he instils in Light & Wonder iGaming and how he leads that business. “We have this ‘never settle’ value that I always gravitate towards and it’s from that DNA that drives me and our business forward.” 

That drive is vital in an industry like gambling, especially online. The sector is unrecognisable from the one Slaney joined in 2017. “The industry evolves at such a pace, with new regulation, new markets, fresh innovation and new competition constantly cropping up,” he says. “It never stops and you have to embrace the pace and learn to like it.”

Some aren’t going to enjoy that pace and Slaney acknowledges this: “It’s certainly not for everyone. However, it’s also a huge positive and one of the biggest reasons I tell people to come and join this industry. 

“It never stops and constantly changes and challenges you.”

Entain seeks damages from BetCity over undeclared regulatory cases

Gaming giant Entain acquired BetCity for €450m (£383m/$487m) in January 2023. The deal ultimately gave Entain access to the Dutch market, where BetCity was one of the initial 10 licensees.

BetCity has been operating as part of Entain for just over a year now. However, claims have now come to light that have led Entain to file a claim for damages against BetCity.

In a document obtained by CasinoNieuws.nl, Entain sets out that it was unaware of two regulatory cases against BetCity when it acquired the business. Both investigations were being carried out by the Dutch regulator, Kansspelautoriteit (KSA).

Entain said BetCity’s former owners signed documents saying they were not aware of any ongoing regulatory investigations. The filing claims several personnel at BetCity knew of the investigations but did not declare this information. 

The two cases resulted in BetCity being fined by the KSA. While the former BetCity owners paid both of these fines, Entain is arguing that the business should have had a lower valuation as a result. As such, it is seeking financial compensation.

BetCity investigations began in April 2022

Entain agreed to acquire BetCity in June 2022. The claim states KSA informed BetCity of one investigation in April of that year. This related in BetCity sending promotional emails to young adults, which is in breach of Dutch law and resulted in a €400,000 fine.

The second investigation launched in May 2022, with KSA again making BetCity aware of the probe. This was in relation to shortcomings with anti- money laundering and terrorist financing measures. BetCity was fined €3m for such failings

According to Entain, it only found out about these cases when news items were published on the KSA website in November of 2022. Entain then requested a meeting with BetCity to discuss compensation over the matter.

It was agreed that the former BetCity would cover the cost of the fines. However, it was also stated that Entain reserved the right submit an additional claim – something Entain later said it would pursue.

However, Entain did not actually file the claim until last month. The filing did not come to light until earlier this month, with CasinoNieuws publishing the document on its website late last week.

Details of the damages Entain is seeking have not been published. Entain is yet to comment on the case.

More controversy for Entain

The claim emerges in what has been a tricky period for Entain. Last month, Jette Nygaard-Andersen resigned as CEO of Entain, with the gambling group yet to appoint a permanent replacement. Stella David, currently a non-executive director is serving as interim CEO.

Nygaard-Andersen’s decision came just days after Entain resolved a long-running case with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). This relates to historic activities in Turkey.

Entain in December reached a final deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the CPS over the matter. This states Entain must pay a financial penalty and disgorgement of profits to a total of £585.5m. The business will also make a £20m charitable donation and contribute £10m to HMRC and CPS costs.

These will be paid in instalments and will run for a period of four years. The commencement date will follow from the final court approval.

As for other challenges, Goldman Sachs downgraded Entain to sell from buy in November amid concerns over business growth, particularly within its online division.

Meanwhile, BetMGM, the joint venture between Entain and MGM Resorts International, recently moved into the UK – but without Entain. MGM is instead working with LeoVegas, with the international platform utilising LeoVegas’ technology and platform.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged suggesting Entain will exit a large number of unregulated markets. The Financial Times says Entain will exit more than 140 markets worldwide such as Antarctica and Vatican City.

Entain will also reportedly be leaving other territories with a permanent human population of less than 1,000 people. These include the Pitcairn Islands, French Southern and Antarctic Lands and United States Minor Outlying Islands.

Swintt expands portfolio with Elysium Studios acquisition

Swintt said the agreement with Elysium Studios will allow it to expand its portfolio of slot titles. It added that new games will be released to the market over the coming months.

The Elysium acquisition, Swintt said, will benefit players around the world, with games to launch in a range of regulated markets.

Elysium Studios creates its own in-house games with various mechanics and bonus features. The developer is the company behind online slot titles such as Red Tiger’s Dragon’s Luck.

Swintt also said the acquisition means Elysium Studios will now be able to begin building new games on the Swintt Platform.

Swintt CEO hails acquisition as “huge step” 

Reflecting on the deal, Swintt CEO David Mann praised the importance of the acquisition. He said that it will help to strengthen the provider’s position in key markets worldwide.

“The acquisition of Elysium Studios is undoubtedly a huge step for the company,” Mann said. “It is one that will enable us to further cement our market position by further diversifying the Swintt portfolio, which now allows us to cater to player tastes across a wider range of regulated markets while also providing our operator partners with new content.

“Having carved out a niche for themselves in the industry for providing high-quality titles that feature unique themes, innovative mechanics and signature graphics and sound, we couldn’t be more excited to be able to start working alongside such a talented team of developers. 

“Elysium Studios will certainly usher in an exciting period of game production for our company. We can’t wait to see how operators and players enjoy upcoming releases like I Hate Fairytales and Pirate Pledge.”

Swintt’s current content portfolio features more than 110 slot and live dealer games. The provider offers titles certified by leading regulators such as the Malta Gaming Authority.

Flutter commences trading on New York Stock Exchange

Ordinary shares in Flutter are now trading under the ticker symbol FLUT on the NYSE.

Launching on the NYSE signals the end of Flutter’s secondary listing on Euronext Dublin. Last week, the group ceased trading shares on the Irish exchange ahead of the New York listing. This was in line with US listing plans set out last month

Flutter will, however, continue to trade on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the group will retain its premium listing on the London exchange. It will also continue trading under the FLTR ticker symbol. 

“With our NYSE listing effective today, this is a pivotal moment for the group as we make Flutter more accessible to US-based investors and gain access to deeper capital markets,” Flutter CEO Peter Jackson said.

Flutter eyes “optimal” primary listing in New York

Flutter has reported significant growth within the US in recent years due to the success of FanDuel. Acquired in May 2018, while the brand was still a daily fantasy sports operator, FanDuel has grown to become a major US provider of sports betting and igaming.

In addition to launching today on the NYSE, Flutter is eying a move to a primary listing in New York. This would match up with proposals set out this time last year, with the Flutter board saying a primary listing would unlock long-term strategic and capital market benefits.

These, Flutter said, include a greater profile in the US and allowing for better recruitment and retention of US talent. Other potential benefits highlighted are access to deeper capital markets and new domestic investors.

In addition, Flutter said a primary listing on the NYSE would provide greater overall liquidity in its shares. 

“Since February 2023, management has engaged widely with US investors, existing and potential, along with existing shareholders globally,” Flutter said. “Feedback received has been very supportive of moving Flutter’s primary listing to the US.

“As a result, the board believes that the NYSE is now the optimal location for Flutter’s primary listing of its shares and that the transition should be made as soon as practicable.”

This proposal will be put to shareholders as a special resolution at the 2024 Flutter AGM on 1 May 2024. Subject to shareholder approval, the transition is expected to become effective in late Q2 or early Q3.

Flutter remains committed to LSE

Should this proceed as expected, Flutter intends to retain its UK listing as a secondary listing. By doing so, Flutter says this will ensure the greatest number of investors can continue to hold its shares and benefit from future value creation. 

Shares on the LSE have fluctuated today since Flutter released a statement confirming the US listing. The price of LSE-listed shares initially fell almost 2.00% and are currently trading at 0.89% below today’s opening price, at the time of writing.

“We believe a US primary listing is the natural home for Flutter given FanDuel’s #1 position in the US, a market which we expect to contribute the largest proportion of profits in the near future,” Jackson said.

US activity drives growth in 2023

Earlier this month, Flutter posted a trading update for 2023. This included further evidence of its ongoing growth in the US.

Group revenue for the 12 months to 31 December was up 25% to £9.51bn for Flutter’s 2023 financial year. This, Flutter said, was driven by a 38% rise in revenue from operations in the US to £3.06bn. 

US operations were the main revenue source, drawing 37.9% of all revenue. On a constant currency basis, US sports revenue hiked 39% and gaming was 47% higher. Flutter also noted a 38% increase in average monthly players to more than 3.2 million.

Speaking in an earnings call after the update, Flutter CEO Peter Jackson outlined a three-year strategy for success in the US. He said Flutter plans for FanDuel to complete a race to the finish line in the final year.

ITIA provisionally suspends Bosnian tennis official over corruption

Dejanovic, the ITIA says, is facing charges for breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP). 

The national-level official has been suspended since 8 January, meaning he cannot officiate at or attend professional tennis events. These include contests authorised or sanctioned by ITIA members or any national association.

The ITIA did not disclose the full details of these charges but did reference Section F.3.b.i.4 of the TACP. This states the individual is likely to have committed a “major offence” that would undermine the integrity of tennis.

Dejanovic did not appeal the ruling and is now serving the provisional suspension while the ITIA completes its investigation. 

Another week, another suspension from the ITIA

Dejanovic is the latest individual to have been suspended by the ITIA, albeit provisionally for the time being.

Earlier this month, the ITIA banned Bulgarian official Stefan Milanov for 16 years. This was after he was found guilty of a series of corruption offences for five matches he umpired in 2021.

Specific activities included manipulating scoring data facilitating any other person to wager on an event.

Meanwhile, the ITIA has handed out a series of bans and suspensions to players in recent weeks over links to a criminal case over a wider match-fixing case in Belgium.

Collaboration between the ITIA and Belgian authorities led to a five-year custodial sentence for syndicate leader Grigor Sargsyan. This led to an initial 16 players being banned during Sargsyan’s conviction in November.

Other recent charges include those filed against French tennis player Leny Mitjana. He was banned for 10 years after being found guilty of corruption and match-fixing offences. 

In addition, Tunisian player Anis Ghorbel was banned for three years over his role in fixing matches in 2016 and 2017. Ghorbel, who has a career-high world singles ranking of 479 in 2016, denies all charges.

The ITIA did not state whether Dejanovic’s suspension was related to the same case.

BetMakers hails new customer impact as revenue rises 10.0% in Q2

Q2 proved to be a productive quarter for BetMakers, with several major clients renewing contracts. These include the Selangor Turf Club in Malaysia and Argentina Jockey Club. Both renewed with BetMakers’ Global Tote division.

BetMakers also renewed with Meadowlands in New Jersey and ZeTurf in the Netherlands. In addition, the BetMakers’ digital division renewed with William Hill UK and PointsBet Australia.

These deals, BetMakers executive chair Matt Davey said, played a major part in the Q2 revenue rise. 

Cost reduction strategy continues at BetMakers

Davey also praised the operator’s wider performance and its reduction of EBITDA loss. This was the result of the cost reduction strategy launched last year.

BetMakers announced the scheme in May 2023 to reduce operating overheads and save money across the BetMakers business. This followed BetMakers warning it faced negative growth in FY23 due to outstanding investment commitments.

The streamlining of BetMakers, Davey said, has simplified its operating model to two key segments: Global Betting Services and Global Tote. This, he added, provides a more effective and efficient way to manage and report on the business.

“We are continuing to execute on our strategy of growing the top line, lowering operating expenses and moving towards profitability, as evidenced by this quarter’s results,” Davey said.

“I am pleased to say that we again signed new customer agreements and extended contracts with key partners, which is expected to aid BetMakers’ growth going forward. 

“In addition, the company has continued to drive down the cost base with a key focus on the significant cost items of staff and core infrastructure costs.”

BetMakers edging closer to positive EBITDA

Taking a closer look at the results for the three months to 31 December 2023, the headline figure is revenue. With this 10.0% higher year-on-year, it will settle nerves about the impact of cost reductions.

BetMakers published a snapshot of its financial performance in Q2 and did not go into full detail on its performance.

It did however, reveal costs of goods sold increased 17.0% to $9.1m. However, such was the impact of revenue growth that gross profit was 6.3% higher at $16.1m.

As for other costs, staff expenses were cut by 29.2% to $12.3m and other operating spend by 27.7% to $5.0m. This resulted in negative underlying EBITDA of $1.2m, although this was 86.8% less than the $9.1m loss posted in Q2 of 2023.

Other figures of note include $1.5m in capitalised staff costs and a $2.0m debtor shortfall. However, these were partly offset by $1.6m in positive balance sheet movements. As such, net cash used in operating activities was down from $5.9m to $2.6m.

“We remain incredibly excited about the future and realising many of the benefits from our restructure programme that has already been initiated,” Davey said. “We expect to see continued improvement come through in the third quarter through reduced outflows and a continued focus on costs. 

“I am happy management has achieved the operating efficiencies we were looking for. I’ll now turn my attention to growth opportunities both organic and external.”

Could cost cutting continue?

While Davey said that BetMakers is heading in the right direction, he said the operator will continue optimisation of its cost base during the second half of FY24. 

“To be clear, as we look towards future growth opportunities, management will maintain our current momentum and continue to optimise our cost base through FY24,” Davey said.

CEO Jake Henson seemingly agreed, saying the task is “not finished”.

“BetMakers has continued to simplify its operating model and sharpen its focus moving forward,” Henson said. “While we have made significant progress over the last 12 months, we’re conscious that the job is not finished.

“We remain very focused on achieving positive underlying EBITDA and operational cash flows, to provide a sustainable foundation for future growth.”