Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. This week we look at action taken by the UK Gambling Commission, Playtech talks to sell Finalto, financial struggles and daily fantasy sports interest.
White Hat Gaming is to pay £1.3m in lieu of a financial penalty, which will be directed towards delivering the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, after a UK Gambling Commission investigation into the group’s handling of seven customer accounts.
The assessment, which formed part of the regulator’s ongoing compliance work, identified failings in the way online operator identified and managed customers who were at higher risk of money laundering and problem gambling.
The UKGC updates that its assessment “has led to the operator overhauling its approach to social responsibility and the prevention of money laundering”.
Inadequate anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures led to failures including not establishing the source of funds for a customer who lost £70,000 in three months, ineffective interaction with both a second customer who lost £50,000 in just six hours, and a third customer who lost £85,000 in just over one hour.
The Commission says that it investigated the customers accounts following concerns identified at a compliance assessment in March 2019, with the failures occurring on the operator’s www.grandivy.com, www.21casino.com, www.hellocasino.com and www.dreamvegas.com websites.
Videoslots has called for “greater clarity to aid responsible operators like ourselves,” as the group responds to an injunction handed out by the Swedish Gambling Authority.
Acknowledging the injunction, and potential fine for non-compliance, that was issued by the Spelinspektionen, the online casino operator asserts that it is “pleased that it confirms compliant implementation of the bonus, deposit and time limits put in place”.
However, the group calls the regulations “unreasonable and unjustifiable,” and maintains that “they are also completely counterproductive to their declared aim of player protection and push players into the arms of illegal operators”.
The penalty issued by the Spelinspektionen was due to perceived breaches of regulations that were introduced in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The regulator, which said in its assessment that the violation “is not to be regarded as serious, but neither as minor nor excusable,” found that players were able to circumvent a mandatory deposit limit by cancelling withdrawals from their gaming accounts.
This, says the Spelinspektionen, means that players were able to deposit more than the maximum permitted amount of SEK 5,000 per week on commercial online games.
Gambling software firm Playtech has confirmed that it is in exclusive discussions with a consortium regarding the potential $200m sale of its Finalto, formerly TradeTech, financial services division.
Responding to recent press speculation in the Israeli media, the consortium comprises Barinboim Group, Leumi Partners Limited, The Phoenix Insurance Company Limited and Menora Mivtachim Insurance Limited.
This latest development comes after the group confirmed discussions regarding a sale of the division were continuing earlier this month, maintaining the company’s aim of simplifying its business and disposing of non-core assets.
Spectrum Gaming Group has determined that New York’s gaming market will return to pre-COVID levels in 2023, as the group delivers a bumper estimate for combined retail and digital sports wagering across the entire state.
The long awaited 358-page study, published by the New York State Gaming Commission but authored by the Pennsylvania-based research firm, estimates that brick-and-mortar and online sports betting in the jurisdiction boasts the potential to generate between $816m to $1.14bn.
This estimate is based on the annual per-adult GGR estimate across the United States of $50 to $70, adjusted for household income and population in each state. For New York State, $50 to $70 translates to $53 to $74 per adult.
The Rank Group says the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospitality sector “has been particularly hard” on the company, with venue closures and restrictions leading to a 55 per cent reduction in group NGR for the six month period to December 31, 2020.
With the group’s facilities losing 45 per cent of available operating days, this saw NGR during the H1 period came in at £177.6m (2019: £391.8m), as Rank updates that “our venues remain closed and they are likely to remain so for much of Q3 and quite possibly into Q4”.
Business venues, including, Grosvenor, Mecca and Enracha, which accounted for 78 per cent of Rank revenue in H1 2019/20, have seen like-for-like revenues cut by 70 per cent in the first half of the year.
Subsequently, the resultant impact has seen the group’s underlying operating profit falling from £57.7m in the same period one year ago to an underlying operating loss of £33.2m in 2020/21.
Las Vegas Sands asserts that its greatest priority remains its continued portfolio-wide recovery as the casino and resorts company’s post-Sheldon Adelson era gets off to a troublesome start.
Providing a Q4 and FY 2020 report, for the former net revenue came in at $1.15bn, a decrease of 67.3 per cent from the prior year’s $3.5bn, with across the board declines felt as result of continued COVID impacted closures.
The company swung to an operating loss of $211m, compared to income of $934m in 2019, with net loss finishing up at $376m, compared to net income of $783m a year earlier. Consolidated adjusted property EBITDA was $141m, compared to $1.39bn.
Total net revenues for Sands China decreased 69.9 per cent to $672m, with net loss finishing up at $246m, compared to net income of $513m in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Bally’s Corporation has unveiled a definitive agreement to acquire daily fantasy sports platform Monkey Knife Fight in an all-stock transaction which is expected to close during Q1 2021.
The acquisition marks the latest stage of the company’s long-term growth and diversification strategy to become an integrated sports betting and igaming firm with a B2B2C business model.
MKF is set to become an “integral component” of the Bally’s Interactive division, and will support wider plans to develop a potential sports bettors database in states such as California, Florida and Texas, which, according to Wall Street analysts, are expected to account for 20 per cent – 25 per cent of US sports betting revenues.
Caesars Entertainment had made a strategic investment in daily fantasy sports platform SuperDraft, in a move which is designed to complement the group’s gaming and mobile sports network.
Via the investment, Caesars says that it will add further strength to its customer acquisition pipeline and retention for both online and brick-and-mortar. The firm takes an initial minority equity position, with an option to increase its stake over time up to 100 per cent at pre-determined levels.
As part of the investment, SuperDraft, based in New Hampshire, will join Caesars’ online brands, World Series of Poker and Caesars Online Casino, and, upon the acquisition’s close, William Hill, as part of a full slate of mobile and online gaming channels.
The company will also become a piece of Caesars’ single wallet solution, allowing members more options to play both online and in-person, and is expected to be tied to the Caesars Rewards program.