Online Gambling Industry News Round-up

Published on the 2021-02-05

In what has been a particularly busy period in the online gambling industry, especially towards the end of 2020 it has really set the benchmark for what could follow in 2021 and as such we have detailed the latest events in the industry and what these might mean as a whole!

MGM seeking Entain acquisition

Arguably one of the biggest latest news stories in the online gambling industry, US gambling entertainment company MGM Resorts International is understood to be preparing a bid to acquire Entain (previously known as GVC Holdings) in a move that would send considerable shockwaves though the industry.

Entain in its own right is a mammoth in the online gambling world with over 24 major operator brands already under its umbrella. These include Ladbrokes, Coral, Bwin, and Sportingbet to name just a fraction.

MGM meanwhile, is very well known in the US but more on the traditional gambling, hospitality, and entertainment side of things, and adding an online arm to their portfolio would be seen as a major if not disruptive move. With resorts all over the world and an impressive balance sheet, there is no doubt that they have the means to make such an acquisition, though it is thought that the number in question could shatter the previous record in the industry, while it is rumoured that the initial bid tabled (and rejected) was in the region of $11 billion.

This was actually set by Entain (then GVC Holdings), when they agreed to purchase Ladbrokes-Coral for in excess of £4 billion back in December 2017. 

While this news has left a lot of industry figures questioning the thought process of MGM here, it does make sense strategically. Recently their rival Caesers agreed a deal to buy online gambling giant William Hill in a bid to move into what is understood to be a potentially lucrative online gambling in the US. 

Should MGM complete this takeover though, it would be a major statement of intent and no doubt ensure that they can steal a march on their competitors. How any potential deal here would be structured throws a lot of questions into the air, especially which brands it would move into the US and which ones would remain in Europe. Should this deal be agreed though, there is no doubt it would not only be record breaking but also highly intriguing, given the vast amount of resources at their disposal. 

Buenos Aires closing in on gambling license

After almost a year of deliberation, the regulatory authority of gambling for the province of Buenos Aires has reached a decision in relation to its online gambling license process.

Known as IPLyC, the regulatory body stated that it had been in receipt of 14 applications from gambling companies who want to join up to it so that they can begin to gain a foothold in what has been recognised as a market with a lot of potential for growth. These include notable names such as Betsson Group and Playtech.

To secure a license IPLyC has set a cost of £650,000 that gambling companies must pay in order to operate in Argentina, which if the market size increases could be seen as a strategic gamble.

Self-Exclusion offered by Pennsylvania online gambling firms

In a similar concept to the UK online gambling self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP, which allows players to opt-out of gambling activity at any time and therefore be blocked from accessing a gambling site and as such receiving marketing communications, the US state of Pennsylvania has launched a similar initiative.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has ideated PlayPause which is a similar tool to GAMSTOP. This is available to operators at no cost via a new non-profit organisation that is called Conscious Gaming, established by GeoComply.

Over the last 18 months, since the state had online gambling legislation approved, this activity has exploded and it continues to surge in popularity. It has though, led to a wave of problem gambling in recent months, especially in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people in the state spending a lot of their free time, glued to gambling sites.

Elizabeth Lanza, who is the director of the Office of Compulsive and Problem Gambling for the Pennsylvania Board, was optimistic of this recent development saying: “We are pleased to be the first state to join the programme. By integrating with this solution the industry and regulators can increase well-being efforts and advance the effectiveness of self-exclusion.”

Dutch operator JVH joins forces with Kambi

In light of recent news that online gambling legislation has been passed in the Netherlands, this has led to a flurry of activity among operators and software providers alike. The latest is that online operator JVH Gaming and Entertainment Group - the largest private casino in the country has agreed a deal with sports betting software provider Kambi who will provide sportsbook solutions from the first quarter of 2021.

Upon completion of the deal, Kambi chief executive Kristian Nylén said: “We are very pleased to have put pen to paper on our partnership with JVH Group, an agreement which positions both parties to fully capitalise on the forthcoming regulation of the Dutch online sports betting market.

He continued: “JVH’s reach in the Netherlands’ land-based casino sector is unmatched, and Kambi’s digital expertise will enable them to accelerate their growth with a market-leading online sports betting offer.”

JVH currently has over 80 properties under its umbrella and securing this partnership is seen as somewhat of a coup.

“This partnership marks an important strategic milestone for the company and entry into a new phase, with the aim of building on our casino business with the launch of a premium online sports betting product as we finally go digital,” the operator’s CEO and chair Eric Olders said.

“In Kambi, we are confident that we have found a trusted partner that shares our goal of providing players with engaging, innovative sports betting experiences, and we look forward to working closely with them as we deliver on our digital ambitions.”