Industry News Round-up

Published on the 2021-06-08

As we enter the second quarter of 2021, the online gambling industry shows no obvious signs of letting up, especially in regards to merger and acquisition activity. The first couple of months of the new year saw a flurry of deals cross the line, with some dragging over from the end of 2020.

Essentially, 2021 has started as 2020 finished, especially in terms of industry growth and player participation figures continue to increase even in new markets such as Canada, India, the USA, and New Zealand.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories that are taking shape right now in the online gambling industry.

Entain in Enlabs takeover

Arguably the biggest headline over the last week has been the Entain (formerly GVC Holdings) acquisition of Baltic gambling firm Enlabs as it looks to expand its reach into the north eastern European online gambling market.

Already one of the biggest gambling conglomerates in the world, owning the likes of Coral, Ladbrokes and bwin, in addition to over 20 other brands, Entain has flexed its muscles once more in what can be seen as more of a strategic purchase.

Merely weeks after the group shrugged off an £8 billion bid from US entertainment company MGM, the firm stubbornly responded with a €370 million offer for another brand, which was swiftly accepted. 

What is clear from this bullish move is that Entain has plans to reach into previously unexplored markets and it is clearly a case of watch this space.

Bally’s and Gamesys complete merger

A few weeks after it was initially announced that a deal was on the table, a merger between two well respected software providers in the industry has joined forces. 

While Gamesys can essentially be regarded as an online gambling company per se, from the perspective that it does create software, but also has operator brands, means that this a rather unique deal for Bally’s Technologies. 

Speaking about the deal recently, Soo Kim, Chairman of Bally’s Corporation, said: “We believe that this combination will mark a transformational step in our journey to become a leading integrated, omni-channel gaming company with a B2B2C business. 

“We think that Gamesys’ proven technology platform alongside its highly respected and experienced management team, combined with the US market access that Bally’s provides, should allow the combined group to capitalize on the significant growth opportunities in the US sports betting and online markets. 

“We are truly excited about the opportunities that this combination would offer and the enhanced and comprehensive experience and product offering that it would enable us to offer our customers.”

Meanwhile, Gamesys Chairman Neil Goulden was equally optimistic stating: “The combination would give unique optionality to Gamesys shareholders. The recommended cash offer, including the Gamesys FY20 dividend, provides a 41.2% premium to the Gamesys share price at the time of the original proposal from Bally’s and is at a significant premium to the all-time high Gamesys share price prior to the 2.4 announcement. 

“However, should Gamesys shareholders wish to invest in a business with a strong foothold in the high-growth US gambling market combined with established markets in the UK and Japan, they can elect for part or all of their holding to be converted into Bally’s shares.”

Betsson prepare for Mexico launch

Via its flagship brand Betsson AB, Betsson Mexico is preparing to launch in the country, after securing a partnership with the long standing casino operator, Big Bola Casinos, which employs in excess of 1800 people across its sites in Santa Fe, Veracruz, Puebla, Sinaloa, and Mexico City DF, plus more.

This site will offer customers an online sportsbook and fully stocked online casino for players in Mexico, which is set to launch imminently in what presents an interesting market for the Swedish based company. 

CEO of Betsson, Jesper Svensson outlined his eagerness for the deal, saying: “We are really excited to start this collaboration with Big Bola as we believe they are well suited to help us understand the market better and ensure that our offering not only fits the Mexican culture but also earns the public’s trust.

He continued: “Our vision is to provide the best customer experience in the industry and I’m confident that we will manage to replicate this success in Mexico too.”

Similarly, Emilio Quiros, Director of Operations for Big Bola Casinos said: “We are happy that Betsson Group has chosen to partner with us for their operations in Mexico. We believe that our market expertise and their knowledge and experience about online gaming will result in an outstanding product for Mexico.”

Yggdrasil Gaming and Bang Bang Games unite

Globally renowned online gambling software provider, Yggdrasil Gaming has teamed up with London-based boutique software company, Bang Bang Games which only launched in April 2020. 

This will allow the latter to offer games on Yggdrasil’s unique platform and GATI technology which will help them to gain the exposure that will be key to their strategic growth. 

Stuart McCarthy, who is the Head of Partner Programmes at Yggdrasil, said about the partnership: “Our YG Masters program continues to drive innovative content to market and this is evident in Bang Bang Games’ landmark inaugural title, Ancient Eclipse.

“GATI has proven to be an enabler for our partner studios and we can’t wait to see what more comes from them.”

Frank McPolin, meanwhile, who is the Managing Director at Bang Bang Games, almost echoed these thoughts: “We’re delighted to launch our first game as a YG Masters partner, Ancient Eclipse. With a thrilling theme, lucrative Free Spins mode and an artfully crafted environment, we couldn’t be happier and look forward to it being rolled out across Yggdrasil’s partner network, reaching players all over the globe.”

Gambling company boss to exceed £1 billion in pay

A story that is gathering substantially in momentum is that of Bet365 supremo Denise Coates, who, after the release of the latest figures will earn over £1 billion in pay, for the last couple of years which includes salaries, bonuses and dividend payouts, with this figure expected to increase over the next couple of years.

Coates, who started her company in a Portakabin in 2000 has taken Bet365 on quite a journey over the last two decades, though she was not without help. The daughter of Stoke City football club owner Peter Coates, this helped her substantially, especially in terms of publicity. This reached its pinnacle in 2010 when the gambling company became the main sponsors of Stoke City FC, with the stadium renamed ‘The Bet365 Stadium’, which raised awareness considerably, especially with the team being in the Premier League. 

It is reported that Coates paid herself £421 million in 2020, which is understood to be one of the largest corporate packages in UK history, while she is also ranked 14th in the Sunday Times Rich List.

Coates said recently: “I first came up with the idea when I was working in an office above one of our betting shops in the late 1990s.

“I was convinced early on that gambling would work well on the internet.

“It is private, accessible and allows you to present a huge range of betting opportunities to customers.”

Costa Rica set to receive gambling licensing proposals

It is understood that the Social Protection Board (JPS), is looking over a number of pitches to secure online gambling permission in the country which includes sports betting and a national lottery.

This was a process that was enabled in mid March and has since received considerable interest from numerous parties. Each successfully authorised bid will be required to pay between $100,000 and $200,000 as a deposit for a license, in addition to $250,000 in the form of a guarantee.

Esmeralda Britton, who is the JPS President, said: “This institution intends to ensure that revenue is generated for the 500 social programs that aim to help vulnerable people who benefit from the money that comes from the commercialization of these products.

“The Board has demonstrated throughout its almost 176 years of existence its ability to evolve and adapt to new times. We believe that in the case of the digital age, the institution is walking on the path of technological transformation that allows us to strengthen social protection.”

Detroit Tigers team up with BetMGM

We head stateside for our final story, with Major League Baseball (MLB) team and franchise, the Detroit Tigers selecting betting and entertainment company BetMGM as its official gaming partner, with many states across the US now starting to legalise online gambling.

This move means that MGM will gain substantial publicity as they fight rivals like Caesers for market share in the country, being able to display their branding on scoreboards around the team’s Comerica Park arena in addition to fan content and by way of integrated social media campaigns.

“We’re excited to expand our relationship with BetMGM to feature the Detroit Tigers and Comerica Park,” stated Peter Kent who is the senior vice president of corporate partnerships at the Detroit Tigers. 

“Our fans will enjoy the enhancements this partnership provides to their experience, both at the ballpark and in rooting on the Tigers from home.”

Matt Prevost, meanwhile, BetMGM’s chief revenue officer, said: “From day one, a main priority for us in Michigan was to develop deep relationships with its beloved sports teams, and we are excited to expand on that today with our partnership with the Tigers. 

“We look forward to engaging with the Tigers fan base and offering best-in-class promotions and perks only available on BetMGM.”

David Tsai, who is actually the president of the midwest group at MGM Resorts, commented “The Detroit Tigers are a central part of the Michigan sports scene and bring an undeniable energy to the city. 

“All of us at MGM Grand Detroit are ready to enthusiastically welcome Tigers and sports betting fans to our BetMGM Sports Lounge, before, during, and after games and provide an opportunity to experience America’s pastime in the most innovative and exciting way possible.”