The second installment of iGB’s inaugural Most Influential Women list Strategy Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 13th July 2018 | By Hannah Gannage-Stewart Email Address Topics: Strategy Most Influential Women 2018 II Tags: Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Shelly Suter-Hadad, COO/MD, Mansion Suter-Hadad joined Mansion as head of marketing operations in 2008, having entered the industry as a consultant a couple of years earlier. Ascending the company hierarchy steadily since then, she has been director of business development, CCO and now also managing director. Suter-Hadad led Mansion back into sports betting earlier this year, launching MansionBet via SBTech’s sportsbook and using its Chameleon360 platform. Since then, the new brand has inked sponsorship deals with Gibraltar’s World Pool MastersOne and horseracing’s York Cup. One judge described her as “completely committed and looking to buck the trend of the established players”. Suter-Hadad described the new product as “a very exciting challenge which is taking a considerable portion of my focus”. The launch is a bold move in a saturated market, but Suter-Hadad is taking a holistic approach to getting the brand USP, offering, digital presence and user experience right. “This includes leveraging on each effort across all marketing activities, including our CRM, acquisition channels and PR endeavours,” she explains. Her influence at Mansion and across the wider market was recognised with a Women In Gaming Award last year, the same year that she oversaw the rebrand of Mansion’s casino.com brand. Her advice to women wanting to make their mark on the industry is to think of yourself as a leader before all else. “Forget your nationality, your gender, your status or anything else holding you back,” she says. “Be brave! Go out there, speak up, share your ideas and take a chance! There is no perfect timing – good timing is good enough.” A natural mentor, Suter-Hadad says it is one of the most rewarding parts of her job to bring other people on and develop them. “Nothing is as rewarding as chaperoning someone through the process of self-discovery and development; setting audacious goals, achieving personal accountability and learning the power of persistence,” she says.Irina Cornides, CEO Group Marketing, Jackpotjoy Gaming Cornides has been CEO of the Jackpot Joy gaming brand since May, having successfully led its operations division since 2015. As one of the only female CEOs in the industry, she heads up a company that holds circa 22% of the UK bingo market. She joined the firm in 2014 following Intertain’s acquisition of bingo operator Mandalay Media, where she was managing director, which later became Jackpot Joy. She has also held senior roles at Party Gaming and BGO, as direct marketing manager and head of bingo, respectively. Cornides says after consulting for Roland Berger and completing her Master’s degree, she was looking for “an entrepreneurial industry where I could put data driven strategies into action”, when igaming came calling. “During a windsurfing holiday in Tarifa, I met Gibraltar-based industry professionals and my interest was piqued,” she explains. Reflecting on her recent promotion, she says: “My sole focus is to continue our stellar track record, outperform targets and further grow and solidify our market position.” Her new role gives her control of the UK’s biggest bingo brand, overseeing the entire Jackpotjoy portfolio across all European markets, and consequently control of the majority of group revenue and profits. Cornides says the broad remit of her position and the fast-paced, competitive nature of our industry is part of what appeals to her most about her job. Her advice for women hoping to replicate her success in the industry is to “trust in your capabilities and surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you; both professionally and personally”. With that foundation to work from, she adds that you are then able “to set ambitious goals, deliver your best and enjoy what you do”.Kostandina Zafirovska,CEO, BtoBet Zafirovska has been at the helm of Malta-based sportsbook and gaming platform BtoBet since January 2017, having served the previous two years as the company’s chief operating officer. She has more than 17 years of experience in computer science engineering. Alongside heading up BtoBet Zafirovska is on the executive board of Swedish software consultancy Seavus. She rose through the organisation, heading up several departments on the way, and assisted high-profile clients from various industries including insurance and finance. Her specialty has been designing and developing IT software products aimed at improving customer experience and simplicity of use. One of the projects she started working on almost five years ago was the development of the gaming and sports betting platforms that now constitute what she describes as “the backbone” of BtoBet. As such, she has seen the firm rise right through from its inception. Having overseen the launch and growth of BtoBet in a highly competitive market, she says her next challenge is “to influence the gaming community to embrace ever more the concept of advanced technology, and to recognize the value that this same technology has in terms of operational results”. One igaming exec described Zafirovska as “funny and charming” but “one of the most commercially shrewd and determined people you’ll ever meet”, while the judges saw her as the driving force behind a “technology challenger platform” and “making inroads in new markets”. This year alone BtoBet has articulated plans to expand in Italy and Peru. Asked what she would say to other women looking to excel in igaming she said: “Be confident, grasp every opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field, and base your action on wisdom and integrity.”Denise Coates, CEO, Bet365 Last year Coates became the highest-paid CEO in the UK, paying herself an astonishing £217m. She is reported to have accrued a net worth of £3.5bn since the launch of Bet365 in 2001. Coates entered the industry as a cashier in her father’s small chain of betting shops before growing the family business to the online gambling behemoth that it is today. Coates’ career in igaming is not a story of breaking through; it’s one of crafting the industry we know today. “I was running the family chain of betting shops when the internet was in its relative infancy,” she tells iGB. “I saw the opportunity that the internet provided to build a market-leading sports betting provider. I knew that the shop estate I was running was only ever going to be a good regional player. So we set about developing sports betting software and Bet365 was born.” Coates’ vision manifested the igaming industry’s biggest brand, one that is instantly recognisable even to those that don’t use it to bet. Coates flies under the radar as much as she can as far as publicity goes, but she remains highly engaged with the business. She says the best part of her job is “the challenge and excitement of running a global business along with the satisfaction of providing high quality jobs” and says her ongoing challenge is to “always to be the best at whatever I do”. Asked for a few words of wisdom for other entrepreneurial women looking to make their mark on the world, Coates says: “Work hard and focus on the detail. It’s the detail that sets you apart.”Related articles: Most Influential Women 2018 The inaugural iGaming Business Most Influential Women list aims to raise the profile of women in the industry and showcase what women in our industry are achieving today, as well as how rewarding a career in the gambling industry can be, irrespective of background.This is the second installment of a three-part series online. To read more about how the list was drawn up, why we thought now was the time to do it and who the judges were read Most Influential Women 2018 published on 13 July, 2018.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Bet-at-Home thrives thanks to marketing drive Tags: Online Gambling 5th November 2018 | By contenteditor Bet-at-Home has paid tribute to its revamped marketing strategy, saying greater spend during the football World Cup helped to bring in new customers and drive EBITDA to a record high in the third quarter. EBITDA in the three months through to the end of September amounted to €13m (£11.4m/$14.8m), higher than the previous two quarters combined (Q1 €9.3m / Q2 €1.6m). Frankfurt-listed operator Bet-at-Home put this growth down to increased marketing spend during the Fifa World Cup, which ran from June 14 to July 15. Marketing expenses in Q3 totalled €13.5m, which in turn helped grow the firm’s registered customer base from 4.8 million in Q3 of 2017 to just under five million. Gross betting and gaming revenue in the quarter came in at €37.6m, up from €31.9m in the corresponding period last year. However, for the year to date, the company is slightly behind where it was at last year on €104.2m, compared to €108.7m. Looking ahead to the remainder of 2018, Bet-at-Home said in a statement: “From the current perspective, and assuming an unchanged regulatory and tax law environment, the management board expects gross betting and gaming revenue increasing to €150m in the fiscal year 2018. “Furthermore, the management board assumes EBITDA to reach a level between €36m and €40m in 2018.” The results will come as a boost to Bet-at-Home, which in July reported a double-digit recline in revenue for the first six months of the year. At the time, the firm put this partially down to its inclusion on Poland’s blacklist.Prior to announcing its first-half results, Bet-at-Home was hit by another blow when it was fined a total of €410,000 by the Kansspelautoriteit, the Netherlands Gaming Authority. The regulator found that the firm had targeted Dutch citizens without holding a gaming licence in the country. Operator on the comeback trail as customer numbers increase Email Address Finance Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Topics: Finance
The sports betting industry has not seen any major disruptive innovation since the establishment of Betfair almost 20 years ago, but beconnect believes its new exchange-based product can shake up the sector. Co-founder Mark Weaver explains how it works. Sports betting Tags: Mobile Online Gambling Mission: disruption Topics: Sports betting Tech & innovation Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 19th March 2019 | By contenteditor Regions: UK & Ireland Email Address The sports betting industry has not seen any major disruptive innovation since the establishment of Betfair almost 20 years ago, but beconnect believes its new exchange-based product can shake up the sector. Co-founder Mark Weaver explains how it works.While business may be booming for British bookmakers, it is accepted wisdom that well over 90% of punters’ sportsbook and exchange accounts are long-term net losers. We set up betconnect with a mission to change that.For us, the gambling space is ripe for disruption. The industry has not had a major innovation since Betfair in 2000, and we saw exactly where it was needed – with a proposition that would tip the balance between bookmaker and punter back onto a more even keel.Making a killing As it stands, the bookmakers are making a killing out of punters. The numbers speak for themselves. Over the last couple of years, the UK gambling industry received a staggering record of £14.4bn of revenue from lost bets alone – enough to write off the trade deficit of a minor country. On the other hand, the top 10% of punters who actually stand a chance to turn a profit from the bookies (the pros) are being barred by the tens of thousands.For us, it seemed obvious that a social betting exchange that would team up professional gamblers with ordinary punters would be just the thing to address that imbalance. After all, when it comes to game changing disruption, it’s all about putting two parties together that need each other.Think Uber and AirBnB. Their monumental successes have been because they’ve connected gaps in the markets that were crying out to be filled. For Uber, it was about breaking the extortionate monopolies that taxi firms were holding over anyone needing a lift, and instead offering an alternative. For AirBnB, it was about breaking up the hotels’ hold over the short-stay market.When we created betconnect, we approached it with the same disruption in mind. Our mission was to take on the bookies – by putting together the punter looking for better guidance to get their winnings into the green, and the pros that were being blocked out of the market by the bookies.The mechanic that then connects them from there is simple. Recreational punters are able to join betconnect, browse our directory of pros, and connect with the ones whose bets they are interested in following.Separated into two groups, ‘pro’ and ‘punter’, the pros put their bet requests in. The algorithm of our Silicon Valley-inspired technology stack then intelligently splits this bet up into hundreds of different bets divided into smaller amounts. Once the punter has matched the pro’s bet request, they can then go and place the bet at a bookmaker, add a bit more for themselves, or choose to lay it.Emulating eToro To draw a similar comparison, we’ve seen the same happen in the financial sector recently with eToro, and we’ve then applied that to sports betting. With eToro, customers copy financial traders and funds at the click of a button – letting them do all the work while they sit back and collect the rewards. In our case, we do the same for gambling – by giving punters the chance to learn and bet with the very best out there.How it works is very much personalised, and has a lot of clever artificial intelligence and machine learning behind it. Punters are able to tell the app what sports they’re interested in, and whatever the flavour – be it football, tennis, golf or horseracing – or any other, that is what they receive. Over time, our technology begins to build a profile of each punter, so every bet request we send them becomes highly relevant to what they like to bet on, and in turn, better connecting the community as a whole.But enough about the punter – moving on to the pros – they pay us a commission of up to 3% to get their bet matched – which makes their pro-status self-validating initially. Once they are active on the betconnect platform they are held to account through the publication of their own profit and loss statistics – not only allowing our punters the freedom of choice over who they follow and learn from, but also giving them the opportunity to lay the bets of pros they disagree with. Every bet request is also financially backed by the pro, so each and every one of our punters can be safe in the knowledge that their interests are aligned. If the punter chooses to follow the bet request and the pro wins, the punter wins too.One question we’re then immediately asked is that surely the bookies would be quick to suspend markets when receiving hefty bets? Luckily, that’s the beauty of the platform – if punters are matching a bet and then laying it themselves, then it doesn’t even hit them.While we’ve only been around since January, we’re now looking at an exciting first year ahead. Uptake has already been fantastic, and now we’ll be focusing on spending 2019 building out our social features to make betconnect not only match bets, but also give our users the chance to collaborate and share bet requests, which will deliver betting’s first truly social experience.The odds are no doubt in our favour, and aside from some already amazing feedback – the social trading journey we’ve seen with eToro should provide us with a great example of what can be achieved. Already accounting for 40% greater profitability in the financial sector while still in its infancy, we’re betting on being able to do the same here.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Lottery brokerage Zeal Network has reported a 26.3% year-on-year increase in adjusted earnings before interest and tax in the first quarter of 2019, despite being hit by a drop in revenue. Zeal reveals earnings growth despite Q1 revenue decline Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Topics: Finance Lottery Tags: Online Gambling Finance Lottery brokerage Zeal Network has reported a 26.3% year-on-year increase in adjusted earnings before interest and tax in the first quarter, despite being hit by a drop in revenue.Revenue for the three months through to March 31, 2019, amounted to €36.5m (£31.2m/$40.9m), down 5.8% on €38.7m in the corresponding period last year.Frankfurt-listed Zeal put this decline primarily down to a drop in the average jackpots offered on German state lottery products over the quarter, while the closure of the Lotto Network and the Spanish brokerage Ventura24 saw revenue slip €960,000 as a result.Both of these factors also had an impact on total operating performance during the quarter, dropping 6.2% from €39.8m to €37.4m.However, Zeal was able to cut spending in several areas of the business in Q1, with personnel expenses down from €7.7m to €5.5m due to a fall in the total number of full-time equivalent staff from 272 to 192. This comes as a result of a wider restructuring effort in preparation for the acquisition of Lotto24 and the closure of Ventura24.Other operating expenses were down from €22.5m to €19.5m, while direct costs of operation dropped from €11.6m to €10.6m and other costs of operations from €6.2m to €3.7m. Marketing was the only area where Zeal spent more, with this total up from €4.7m to €5.2m.This seemingly helped to offset lower revenue during the quarter, with adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) up by 26.3% year-on-year to €11.6m. Statutory EBIT also increased by 6.7% to €9.8m, while net cash was up 36.2% to €102.1m. Once finance-related costs were stripped out, and €61,000 from financing and investing activites was factored in, profit before tax stood at €9.8m, up 9.2% from the prior year. After income taxes of €3.0m, Zeal’s profit for the quarter was up 9.6% year-on-year at €6.9m.Zeal chief finanical officer Jonas Mattsson spoke positively about the results, saying that the Q1 performance sets up the business for its reunification with former subsidiary Lotto24. Mattsson said this is likely to be finalised next week.“We delivered a positive EBIT performance, reduced our cost base and further improved our net cash position,” he said. “These results highlight the strong position we have created for ZEAL and set us up well as we prepare to complete our acquisition of Lotto24.“I look forward to next week’s reunification of ZEAL and Lotto24 and, together, building our Group’s future.”Last month, it was revealed that over 91% of Lotto24 shareholders had endorsed a takeover offer by Zeal within the regular acceptance period. Following the conclusion of the initial deadline on April 10, remaining shareholders were given an additional two-week acceptance period until April 29, with 93% of shareholders now backing the deal. Zeal tabled an all-share offer of one Zeal share for 1.604 Lotto24 shares. 7th May 2019 | By contenteditor Email Address
Regions: UK & Ireland Marketing & affiliates Topics: Marketing & affiliates Sports betting Flutter Entertainment brand Paddy Power has launched a new campaign urging betting operators to stop sponsoring football shirts, as it revealed its own sponsorship of English Championship club Huddersfield Town’s jersey was a hoax. Flutter Entertainment brand Paddy Power has launched a new campaign urging betting operators to stop sponsoring football shirts, as it revealed its own sponsorship of English Championship club Huddersfield Town’s jersey was a hoax. Paddy Power has drawn heavy criticism this week after it announced details of a new commercial deal with Huddersfield, with much of this directed at the size of the logo on the front of the team’s shirts. Fans had suspected the move was a hoax, but after the team wore the branded shirt in a pre-season friendly with Rochdale, the English Football Association (FA) contacted Huddersfield over concerns the deal breached its guidelines in terms of shirt sponsorship. However, Paddy Power has now revealed the move was a stunt to promote its new campaign, with the aim of highlighting the issues around shirt sponsorship. The ‘Save Our Shirt’ initiative highlights how in the 2019-20 football season, over half the teams in England’s top two divisions will be sponsored by a bookmaker – with 14 teams in the second-tier Championship bearing a betting brand’s logo. However, Huddersfield will not be one of these clubs, with the team set to play in a shirt without a main sponsor (pictured). Paddy Power has relinquished the space on the shirt – which it would be due as title sponsor – and is encouraging others to do the same. “Shirt sponsorship in football has gone too far; we accept that there is a role for sponsors around football, but the shirt should be sacred,” Paddy Power’s marketing director, Victor Corcoran, said. “So today we are calling on other sponsors to join the Save Our Shirt campaign, and give something back to the fans. As a sponsor, we know our place, and it’s not on your shirt.” Octagon and VCCP Blue worked with Paddy Power on the initial hoax sponsor and will continue to support the bookmaker with the campaign, with plans to promote it across television, print, digital and social media. Henry Nash, head of strategy at Octagon, said: “In the face of football’s crass commercialisation and relentless exploitation of fans, our ambition was to do something good for the game. There was really only one brand brave enough to pull this off. “We’re beyond thrilled that Paddy Power have taken a stand with Save Our Shirt. We believe this idea will have a lasting legacy – not just on the brand but on the game itself.” 19th July 2019 | By contenteditor Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Paddy Power urges end to betting shirt sponsorship in football Email Address
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Topics: iGB Diary Tags: Online Gambling iGB Diary Happy Friday igamers! This week The Diary turns its attention to yet more skewed reporting on an industry leading light and some slow moving rapid response teams, considers the final frontier and appreciates the personal touch of hired goons. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter iGB Diary: Lib Dems, the final frontier, hired goons and clickbait on Coates 22nd November 2019 | By Stephen Carter Happy Friday igamers! This week The Diary turns its attention to yet more skewed reporting on an industry leading light and some slow moving rapid response teams, considers the final frontier and appreciates the personal touch of hired goons“Who is it?” “Goons” “Who?” “Hired goons” The Diary commends Kenyan MP Didmus Barasa, who appears to be the only lawmaker in the country who has made efforts to understand the betting sector. Fresh from getting attacked by goons allegedly sent by political rival Simba Arati (who clearly appreciates the personal touch you can only get from Hired Goons), Barasa got himself into a new feud. On Twitter last Thursday, he accused another rival politician, Fatuma Gedi, of having affairs with her drivers and bodyguards. Gedi hit back, revealing Barasa’s work before entering politics: as a conman impersonating SportPesa representatives. Barasa’s scams became so notorious that the operator issued a public notice warning Kenyans against doing business with him. As the dispute between Sportpesa and the Kenyan authorities rumbles on, despite a promising court ruling last week, Barasa might just hold a unique position in Kenyan politics. Is it too much to hope that somewhere in his role of “pretend Sportpesa employee,” Barasa learned what a 20% tax on both stakes and winnings might look like?If so, perhaps he could end his feuds with colleagues and instead work on imparting his deep insider knowledge of the betting industry.Rapid response team The Diary understands that iGaming Business may not be centre of the universe and acknowledges how busy political parties can be as an election approaches, but a little more urgency would be appreciated from one political party. After learning the party had sent a press release elsewhere revealing that if the Liberal Democrat Party win a majority at the upcoming election, it would ban the use of credit cards in gambling, iGaming Business sought the same release. Two calls, two emails and a media contact form later, the party press office revealed that it had received iGaming Business’s first contact right when it arrived and was still preparing a response. This would, of course, be far more understandable had the response — when it arrived 14 hours later — not been the same pre-written press release already sent elsewhere. They may be languishing on 16% in the polls, and The Diary’s aware it might not have the allure of a Fleet Street giant, but if you’re keen to get your message out there, it might be an idea to, y’know, get it out there?Clickbait on Coates When an article is headlined, “Boss of Bet365 Denise Coates who earned £220m last year pays catering staff less than London Living Wage”, a reader might reasonably assume the esteemed Ms Coates is personally responsible for the poor payment of catering staff.Certainly one would likely assume the article was at least talking about the catering staff of bet365, considering that’s the company Coates is CEO of. Well, no. Actually the article, in the Financial Mail on Sunday, was about a company called ABM Catering, which filed its accounts with Companies House last week.What’s that got to do with Ms Coates? Apart from the fact it is owned by her family, very little. She doesn’t appear to have much to do with the company, albeit she is listed among eight directors of the firm. She’s doesn’t feature on the company’s website listing of its people, she didn’t sign off the accounts and given she’s busy running bet365, we doubt she has anything to do with the job adverts offering minimum wage the company is running.If the ads were for bet365, it might be fair to compare her salary with those who might take up the jobs. But this is kind of like blaming Prince Harry for Price Andrew’s indiscretions. It’s disingenuous to say the least. Space cadets Imagine the scene: you’ve just won €90m on the Euro Jackpot. You’ve bought yourself a massive house, splashed out on a few new cars, and you’re wondering what else to do with your giant pile of cash. Well wonder no more! Lotto.de has the perfect solution – get yourself blasted into the unknown!The German lottery portal estimates that you’ll need to set aside at least €58m of your fortune for a trip to space, comprising €29m for the flight alone, then a princely €31,000 per day while you’re exploring the final frontier. It’s a bit of an odd suggestion, after all, shouldn’t the lotteries be telling you to invest it wisely, rather than blowing your cash on something wild like a walk-in humidor?Only hang on a sec – who are you going to be sharing a cabin with? Some frantic research (okay, a Google search) reveals Canadian pop goblin Justin Bieber has already bought a ticket, and N’Sync’s Lance Bass was days away from blasting off back in 2002. Sarah Brightman – yes, her from the 1992 Olympics – has even completed training for a journey to the International Space Station. Her ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber (yes, him that did Cats) even apparently wrote a song for her to perform there. The Diary might skip this one. Otherwise this scene may become the latest Simpsons moment to become reality. Email Address
Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter West Virginia sports betting revenue hits $2.2m in January Email Address Licensed gambling operators in the state of West Virginia generated a collective $2.2m in sports wagering revenue in January, with mobile the most popular form of betting for consumers. 10th February 2020 | By contenteditor Licensed gambling operators in the state of West Virginia generated a collective $2.2m (£1.7m/€2.0m) in sports wagering revenue in January, with mobile the most popular form of betting for consumers.Players spent a total of $35.4m on sports betting during the four weeks through to January 25, 2020, winning $32.9m in the process.Retail was the main source of income during the month, with licensed operators reporting revenue of $1.2m after consumers bet $15.7m at land-based facilities across the state.However, though mobile generated lower revenue at $970,873, player spending was higher than that of retail, with consumers wagering a total of $19.7m via approved digital platforms.Read the full story on iGB North America. Finance AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Topics: Finance Sports betting Regions: US West Virginia
Playtech names Milne as interim chairman Topics: Casino & games People Strategy 27th April 2020 | By contenteditor Casino & games AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Email Address Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Playtech has announced the appointment of Claire Milne as its interim chairman, with effect from its annual general meeting on 20 May.Milne will succeed Alan Jackson, who indicated he would not stand for re-election to the role and will now step down from Playtech’s board prior to the meeting.Playtech in February said it was at an advanced stage in the process of recruiting a new chair, but due to the impact of the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, it chose to delay a permanent appointment.According to Playtech, current travel restrictions in countries around the world had impacted its ability to carry out an effective induction programme for any external appointee to get to know the business, as well as meet senior staff and board members.As such, Milne, who has served as a non-executive director of Playtech since July 2016 and is chairman of the risk committee, and a member of the remuneration and nominations committee, will step into the role on a temporary basis.Milne’s annual remuneration for taking on the role of interim chairman had been set at £290,000 (€332,420/$360,893), but this will be reduced to £232,000 for the immediate future after Playtech cut executive and non-executive director pay by 20% from 1 April in response to the coronavirus crisis.“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has led us to temporarily pause the final stages of our recruitment process,” Milne said. “I am very pleased to have been asked to act as interim chairman and will look to provide the necessary continuity ahead of the process concluding. “On behalf of the board and the entire management team, I would also like to thank Alan for his service to Playtech, and for his enthusiasm and his dedication to the business as a non-executive director since our IPO in 2006 and, in particular, as our chairman for the last seven years.”Playtech plans to recommence the selection process once the business and market environments normalise. Playtech has announced the appointment of Claire Milne as its interim chairman, with effect from its annual general meeting on 20 May. Tags: Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops
Casino & games Tags: Card Rooms and Poker Online Gambling Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter As novel coronavirus (Covid-19) swept the globe and lockdowns followed, concerns were raised over a potential “boom” in online casino. But to what extent has play in the vertical actually grown, and is it sustainable or does it represent a growth in higher-risk behaviour? By Daniel O’BoyleAs countries around the world went into lockdown to limit the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it did not take long for concerns to be raised over the potential for an uptick in online gambling.Many industry critics quickly repurposed their pre-pandemic arguments to double down on calls for new controls on operators.The general argument went that people cooped up at home all day, with most forms of entertainment no longer available, not to mention the threat of financial hardship, could turn to online casino both as a diversion and in some cases a way to make money.The UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm, for example, wrote to the Betting and Gaming Council over their fears of an explosion in online casino play, demanding a £50 daily gambling limit be imposed on all players.“As our daily life becomes increasingly restricted and bars, pubs and entertainment venues close, many millions of people will now be at home with time on their hands,” the group wrote. “Many will turn to the mini casino on their mobile phone for entertainment.“Some of these will never have considered online gambling before; others will have spent years trying to avoid it.”But has online casino really had a boom? If so, where is it coming from and is it a cause for concern with regards to responsible gambling?Across the industry, levels of growth in online casino vary greatly, with some pointing to evidence of growth, and others seeing much more modest returns.Flutter Entertainment, in its last set of quarterly results before its merger with the Stars Group, broke down its yearly comparisons before and after 15 March, the last week in which live sports were widespread. This, it said, represented the “pre-disruption period”.In what might then be considered the “disruption period”, online gaming revenue increased by 15% year-on-year for the UK-facing Paddy Power Betfair business.Gaming revenue tripled year-on-year for its US business FanDuel in the United States, though Flutter noted that this was primarily due to the growth of its footprint and online casino in the past year.Flutter’s new merger partner The Stars Group, meanwhile, saw an even more notable rise in revenue for its international division, largely made up of the flagship Pokerstars brand, and from poker rather than slots or table games. Revenue was up 44% year-on-year in March.The operator said the increase “more than mitigated” the loss of revenue from sports betting, suggesting that the rise in play is from more than sports bettors looking for a new way to play. That growth became even more pronounced in the first half of April, during which revenue of the international segment grew 75% year-on-year.On a global level, while it didn’t break down online gaming win by vertical, H2 Gambling Capital’s analysis of projected gross gaming win for 2020 shows that online gambling revenue may have risen rapidly as a percentage of overall revenue.While this is hardly a surprise given the decline of land-based and retail sectors, gross win increased by just 1.0% in absolute numbers to $62.96bn (£50.21bn). However, given the collapse of sports betting, this could infer a notable rise in online casino play.Fintan Costello, chief executive of affiliate marketing business Bonus Finder, says that there has been a major rise in searches for online casino in the US. He expects that this pattern was replicated around the world.On the other hand, Richard Skelhorn, founder of operator BGO and affiliate Atemi, claims BGO has seen only an 8% growth in revenue and 4% growth in deposits. This increase is far from a “boom”, he says.“[BGO] is fortunate not to be reliant on a sports betting channel and so is net benefiting from the ‘lockdown’, but no more than it would if it had rained frequently in March and we had one or two high-margin days,” Skelhorn wrote in a blog post.Similarly, Swedish former monopoly operator Svenska Spel’s head of sustainability, Kajsa Nylander, says the operator hadn’t found a “statistically significant” growth in casino play.“We can see a big decline in sports betting, but this is not replaced by a rise in other verticals such as casino,” Nylander explains.“We can see small movements from sports betting to other verticals. In the verticals where we can see a small growth, the players are a mix of some completely new customers and some sports bettors.”This, however, goes against Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen’s impression.“When comparing March 2019 to March 2020 there are very early indications that the turnover for operators with license for online casino has increased,” director general Camilla Rosenberg told iGB.“These are very early indications and it is a little early to say really. We are awaiting figures for April 2020 to learn more.”Who’s playing? When examining the types of players responsible for any increase in online casino activity, Costello says he believes a form of substitution is at play.This replacement isn’t from the cross-selling of sports bettors, however, but rather comes from land-based players, looking to play online versions of their favourite games.“As everyone knows from years of trying to cross-sell sportsbook customers to casino, only a small percentage of sports bettors will have moved to online casino with the closure,” Costello says.“We are probably seeing the impact of land-based closures encouraging people to try online. So basically, an acceleration of an existing trend.”Nylander, meanwhile, notes that while any rise in online casino activity with Svenska Spel was small, the type of players involved suggested that fears the pandemic would be followed by a boom in online gambling may be unfounded.“The most interesting finding is that new players in the verticals with a small rise are low-risk players,” she says.Meanwhile in terms of games, Nylander adds that poker has been among the most popular, echoing the data from the Stars Group’s results.Temporary regulation, or here to stay? Despite this, Sweden has proved to be one of the toughest countries in terms of restrictions intended to curb levels of problem gambling during the lockdown.Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi has proposed a SEK5,000 (£401) mandatory weekly deposit limit and a SEK100 cap on bonus offers from 1 June until the end of 2020.The industry reaction has been swift and loud, with operator association Branscheforenigen for Onlinespel (BOS) launching a petition against the measure. It has now been signed by 12 operators’ CEOs, whose businesses account for around half of all revenue generated in the licensed market.“It is crucial for the success of the licensing system and the safeguarding of costumer protection that Mr Shekarabi withdraws his additional measures towards the locally licensed operators,” BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt said.“The licensing system is fragile and can’t endure further attacks from the Minister. He must do the opposite and safeguard the licensing system in the name of costumer protection.”Sweden is not alone, however.Latvia was the strictest of all countries, opting to ban online gambling entirely. The measure was part of an initially ambiguous bill prompting the country’s regulator to obtain legal advice before ruling that all online operations must cease while the country is in a state of emergency.This led to an outcry from local operators such as Enlabs, which claim the shutdown will push players to unlicensed sites, putting them at far greater risk of harm.Portugal’s parliament, meanwhile, passed a bill earlier demanding that the government takes some sort of action to restrict online gambling during the pandemic.In Spain, strict advertising measures were put in place – part of an overhaul of marketing regulations planned before the virus hit – in order to limit gambling advertising during the pandemic. Bonuses are banned, and operators restricted to advertising between 1am and 5am.In Great Britain, meanwhile, operators ceased all audiovisual advertising from 7 May, despite the BGC flatly denying any hike in online play.“We have been working closely with our member companies since this crisis began to monitor the impact of betting and gaming,” Betting and Gaming Council CEO Michael Dugher said at the time.“There hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online as some had predicted – in fact, the opposite is true with total revenue down by up to 60%.“Overall gambling levels have also fallen significantly as a result of betting shops and casinos closing and the suspension of live sport.“And while advertising levels on sports and casino are also down, again contrary to some assertions, we recognise that removing product advertising will act as a further safeguard during Covid-19.”He said that “alarmist noises” from “anti-gambling prohibitionists who just want to grab headlines” were to be expected. However, it was instead a “serious, constructive and evidence-led approach” that had prompted the decision.So when the virus is finally completely in the past, and Zoom meetings and social distancing are no more, what will the state of online casino be?Will it be buoyed by new players or those switching verticals eventually becoming long-term players? Will it snap back to pre-Covid levels as if nothing has changed?Nylander notes that the post-Covid 19 era may be characterised by economic catastrophe (and presumably a sustained downturn in discretionary leisure spend) rather than a return to normal. In this case, she added, casino isn’t likely to emerge from the crisis significantly better than where it started.“We are always aware of the fact that the situation can change, not least in the long term, due to increased unemployment and economic instability,” she says.“However, experience from earlier financial crises indicates that it is often verticals with low stakes and high profits, for example lottery, rather than casino, that increase most in those times.”Costello, meanwhile, says he believes the level of play in online casino might fall to lower levels than before the outbreak, as it competes with other entertainment options that have been missed.“I’d expect online play to crash dramatically to much lower than historical levels,” he says. “Everyone will be very keen to get outside, go for a meal and all the other forms of entertainment currently being denied to them. I know I will.”In the long term, he warns, the most lasting impact of any lockdown-induced boom might be regulations that could stick around for longer than the issues they were meant to cure.“I’d hope that regulation will return to pre-lockdown levels,” Costello says. “However, in my experience ‘temporary’ measures have a tendency to become permanent.”Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay 21st May 2020 | By Stephen Carter As novel coronavirus (Covid-19) swept the globe and lockdowns followed, concerns were raised over a potential “boom” in online casino. But to what extent has play in the vertical actually grown, and is it sustainable or does it represent a growth in higher-risk behaviour? AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Email Address Is casino up under Covid-19 lockdown? Topics: Casino & games Poker
Email Address Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter With nominations for iGB’s Most Influential Women 2020 now open, iGB catches up with those who made last year’s Top 10 to find out what they’ve been up to since, as well as get their views on who deserves to feature this year.When we launched this year’s survey, we published an article listing some of the industry’s high-fliers of the past year to get people thinking about who they might like to nominate.Shortly afterwards, All-In Diversity Project co-founders Christina Thakor-Rankin and Kelly Kehn reminded us that we should also look beyond the big names – an especially important point given the chaos that’s been caused by the pandemic.This week we caught up with some of the women who made last year’s list to find out what they’ve been up to since, and also get their tips on who they think should feature on this year’s list.A steady field Compared with the group who featured on our inaugural list, there have been relatively few big professional changes among last year’s Most Influential Women.The most significant was the announcement late last year that Mandy Ross was stepping down as chief information officer of Tabcorp. After overseeing the huge technology integration project that followed the Tabcorp-Tatts merger, Ross left the gaming sector to take up a role at Griffith University in Brisbane in April.The remaining nine women featured remain with the same companies they were at when the list came out, although at DraftKings Jamie Shea has recently been promoted to vice-president of sportsbook operations.But just because last year’s Most Influential Women haven’t moved about much doesn’t mean they haven’t been faced with new challenges.At Michigan Lottery, for example, Shannon DeHaven says that due to the pandemic, her role as deputy director of digital operations has changed significantly over the past five months.“Expanding the team’s autonomy to keep up with the online demands has encouraged a new level of creativity, both in regards to online instant games development as well as CRM and marketing ideas. This in turn has also set new net gaming records that contribute important funds to our good cause, Michigan K-12 Schools, in a time when financial support for schools is needed more than ever,” she explains.Despite the pandemic, for the fiscal year ending September 30, Dehaven says Michigan is “on pace to realise over $208,000,000 in net gaming revenue, which is a 65% growth over FY19 and $1.6 billion, or a 66%, year-over-year increase in sales”.Kindred’s chief experience officer Britt Boeskov, who had also joined the board of Racecourse Media Group around six months before the publication of last year’s list, says since last year she’s “had more relevant requests around serving on boards, which is exciting”.Meanwhile, Mandy Ross says she believes that being on last year’s list, “expanded my international network and created some interesting international career opportunities that would not have otherwise come my way”.Expanding the opportunities Karen Sierra-Hughes, director for Latin America and Caribbean government relations and business development at Gaming Laboratories International, says that being featured on last year’s Most Influential Women list has given her an opportunity to act as a role model to others.“One of the positive outcomes was having industry colleagues reaching out for mentorship, even outside my network. I am certain that this recognition served to portray that our industry has opportunities for everybody in every region of the world,” she explains.Micky Swindale says this type of support from other women can be vital. “They say many senior women suffer from imposter syndrome, and it can certainly feel lonely at times when you are so often the only woman in the room, so for me the recognition of being included on the list, along with the very supportive messages and comments I received from many across the sector as a result, was a really positive, empowering experience,” she explains.Similarly, Shea says many people reached out to express support following her inclusion on last year’s list. She adds: “I love that you are showcasing women thriving in male-dominated industries such as sports betting.”Anna Sainsbury, founder of GeoComply, says she sees the list as serving as a reminder that further action is needed on the equality front: “Awards like these help us remember and appreciate that an effort to shift our thinking, goals and actions needs to be made by all to ensure meaningful progress towards equality.Ross adds: “The gaming and tech industries are challenged when it comes to gender diversity – but are such fabulous sectors to build a career in. This is why I think it’s critical that diversity is made visible and celebrated by the industry.”Next up? For her part, Ross is keen to see her former colleague Sue van der Merwe, managing director of Tabcorp’s lotteries and keno business, on this year’s list.“She has led the continued growth and transformation of this business over 30 years to make it the powerhouse it is today. She is also chair of the Asia Pacific Lottery Association, sits on the World Lottery Association Executive Committee and was inducted into PGRI’s Lottery Industry Hall of Fame in 2016, recognising her contribution to world lottery excellence and integrity. She’s a fantastic mentor and leader, and has been an amazing contributor to the sector locally and internationally.”Similarly, Sainsbury nominates her colleague Lindsay Slader, vice-president of regulatory affairs. “Lindsay has pioneered regulator communications for GeoComply and the online industry, communicating integrity and compliance solutions for responsible gaming, age/ID and geolocation,” she says. “Her testimony at state and federal hearings has propelled many legislators to understand better the controls available to online gaming operators, which frequently quell their concerns prior to voting for a bill.”Melissa Blau’s vote goes to Luisa Woods, vice-president of marketing, gaming and entertainment at Delaware North, while Shea opts for Anika Howard, vice-president of brand marketing and digital at Foxwoods.DeHaven champions Stephanie Weyant-Fidler, deputy executive director, marketing and product development at Pennsylvania Lottery, saying: “Her lottery is another amazing example of a US lottery proving that you can have success in a new sales channel.”Lee-Ann Johnstone, founder of Affiliate Insider, says she can’t think of a better nominee than Income Access’s Sarafina Wolde Gabriel, vice-president of strategy, who she describes as “a figure head in the affiliate industry”. “She’s not one to stand out in front much, but she’s one of the most influential people I know and deserves to be recognised for this award for the years she’s put in building successful programmes,” adds Johnstone.Meanwhile, Boeskov says she is “impressed” by Colossus Bets’ chief commercial officer Eva Karagianni-Goel. “She’s bringing some great topics up for discussion and is very balanced and inclusive. And of course she holds a leadership position in the sports B2B area, which is quite rare for women.”Got someone in mind you’d like to nominate? Access iGB’s Most Influential Women 2020 survey here. iGB Most Influential Women: last year’s list 4th August 2020 | By Joanne Christie AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Topics: Casino & games Lottery People Sports betting Tags: Online Gambling With nominations for iGB’s Most Influential Women 2020 now open, iGB catches up with those who made last year’s Top 10 to find out what they’ve been up to since, as well as get their views on who deserves to feature this year. Casino & games Regions: Africa Asia Europe LATAM US