Online Gambling Industry news round-up

Published on the 2021-04-29

Following a hectic start to 2021, the month of February witnessed no let-up as far as the online gambling industry was concerned with new records set and activity continuing to increase across a number of markets.

It appears that the online gambling industry has gone virtually unaffected by COVID-19 and this has been demonstrated with many new brands being launched, a flurry of merger and acquisition activity as well as further markets being unlocked.

This shows no signs of showing either with the industry set to put firm foundations in place to make sure that it can sustain this level of success. It has meant great news for fans as well, with new possibilities and exciting new features and platforms being launched.

Let’s look at the highlights for February and what has been happening in the industry and the implications that this has had.

Golden Nugget Casino secures New York License

In anticipation of the widely mooted legalisation of online gambling in the state of New York, US casino group, Golden Nugget has inked a 20-year licensing deal with Tioga Downs Racecourse to enable them to provide their online gambling platform to residents.

Having moved swiftly to secure a deal, it is hoped that Golden Nugget can gain the majority share of the market through early and hard marketing in a move that could make sure that their site is the first port of call for new players in the state. 

The partnership deal with Tioga Downs played a huge part in being able to make this happen and this has been highlighted particularly by Golden Nugget Casino.

Thomas Winter, President of GNOG said: "We are very excited to sign this long-term partnership with Jeff Gural and Tioga Downs. New York is key to our growth strategy and we look forward to the state embracing online gaming. We will remain focused on securing new market access partners in more US states. With its iconic brand, superior product and award-winning operations, GNOG is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the exponential growth of online gaming in the US."

Meanwhile, it seems this is an equally reciprocal deal, with Tioga Downs owner, Jeffery Gural adding: “Tioga Downs is excited to partner with one of the best performing online gaming operators in the US. GNOG has one of the most experienced online teams, a historied US casino brand, and a proven track record in our neighboring state of New Jersey.

"I'm confident GNOG will bring an exciting product to my home state of New York and together we will generate excellent new revenue streams for GNOG, Tioga, and the state of New York." 

This news came just days after sports betting brand Penn National secured a route to entry for the New York market when they penned a deal with Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady.

BonusFinder brand enters Colombia market

Online gambling performance affiliate BonusFinder has secured entry into the South American country of Colombia which is the only country on the continent to have a fully regulated online gambling market. 

Already active in the US states of West Virginia, Virginia, and Michigan, this latest move will help players in Colombia to find the online gambling experience of their choice. 

“We love operating within regulated markets, it is truly our main focus and our passion,” BonusFinder managing director Fintan Costello said.

“It means the players are better protected, the operators are all legitimate – and everything runs fairly for the players.”

“Better regulation – including affiliate licensing – represents the future of the industry worldwide, and we are delighted to be working in another well-regulated and well-respected market like Colombia.”

Brian Mattingley appointed new Playtech Chairman

Software provider Playtech has undergone a significant change at board level which will see [Brian] Mattingley step into the role of chairman, who will draw an annual salary of £338,000 according to the company.

With extensive experience in the online gambling industry, Mattingley joined 888 Holdings in 2005 as non-executive director, while he has also held senior management roles at Gala Group, Ritz Bingo, Kingfisher PLC, and Dee Corporation PLC. His new role will commence on June 21 of this year.

Toronto Star to enter Online Gambling industry

With the Canadian online gambling market growing with as much traction as the US market, it has seen newspaper company, The Toronto Star enter the industry, with the planned launch of a casino brand later in the year.

"As an Ontario-based media business and trusted brand for more than 128 years, we believe Torstar [Toronto Star] will provide a unique and responsible gaming brand that creates new jobs, offers growth for the Ontario economy, and generates new tax revenue to help support important programs in our province," said Torstar Chief Corporate Development Officer Corey Goodman. 

Paul Rivett who is the chairman and co-owner of the Toronto Star, also owns investment management company Nord Star Capital which bought the Toronto Star last year with an eye on looking to maximise commercial possibilities for the future.

He cited the reason for the deal being: "so that more of our players' entertainment dollars stay in our province."

It certainly is not the first time that a newspaper company has ventured into the world of gambling. In 2006, British tabloid newspaper The Sun launched The Sun Bingo in a bid to add another revenue arm to its business and it has since flourished.

Flutter Entertainment hands out £14 million in staff bonuses

Despite posting losses in 2020 to their sports betting business, PaddyPower owner Flutter Entertainment has recognised the efforts of its staff by awarding £14 million in bonuses to all of its staff which equates to £1000 per person for their efforts during the global pandemic. 

This comes as a crackdown on gambling legislation in the UK following a review could also see operators from being able to sponsor sports clubs which could be somewhat of a major blow. Despite this, CEO Peter Jackson is still trying to remain positive.

“If gambling is not allowed to continue its association with sports, because that is what the government decides, then I think that there would need to be a good transition period. I don’t think that the switch would be an easy one because the gambling industry is a source of revenue for the sector,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph.

"Many of these sports are saying: ‘Now’s a really difficult time for us because we have lost all gate receipts - please don’t make life harder for us.

“But as we have all shown over the past 12 months,  people are very adaptable and sports could get there with enough notice.”

Entain secures Enlabs acquisition deal

Formerly GVC Holdings, Entain, who is arguably the biggest online gambling group in the industry with over 25 brands to their name, including Coral, Ladbrokes, and Bwin have added another string to their ever-expanding bow with the purchase of Enlabs AB.

Enlabs is a leading operator in the Baltics market which includes the countries Lativa and Lithuania and this deal will help Entain to further expand its reach into previously untapped European markets.

Rob Wood, who is the Group CFO and interim CEO of Entain highlighted the benefits of such a deal, stating: “In a highly competitive and regulated industry, where consolidation is a key theme, Entain is able to provide the scale and platform needed to further support Enlabs’ long-term growth,” 

“We firmly believe that Entain will be the best home for Enlabs, its employees and customers.

“Against this background, we have decided to make a final offer of SEK 53 to all shareholders, providing an opportunity to exit their investment at a very attractive valuation.”

NetEnt and Skrill leave Norwegian online gambling market

Internet gateway payment providers NetEnt and Skrill are now no longer available to players in Norway who use online gambling platforms a recent report has revealed. While the reason for this still remains unclear, it is believed that Norway’s ever-tightening regulation has something to do with it.

It has left Norwegian online gamblers with ecoPayz as the only other similar alternative, while cryptocurrency payments are also available. One reason being mooted for the exits is related to the rumours over the possible security of both payment measures, especially with regards to players being able to use these as possible money laundering via online gambling, however, these remain unfounded.