2016 has been a busy year for the iGaming industry seeing a lot of mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, product releases and record-breaking results. To have a solid recap, we lined up the highlights in a month-by-month review. 2017 – bring it on!
Gaming Innovation Group Announced New Share Offering
The company looks to raise an estimated NOK 45 million (€4.8 million) from the sale, which Swedbank Robur Fonder, a leading Scandinavian asset management firm shall be directing.
The sale allows Gaming Innovation Group to “strengthen GIG’s financial position and enable the company to step up efforts to monitor strategic growth opportunities”, the operator noted.
Robin Reed, CEO of GIG, said: “A strengthened balance sheet will allow us to pursue these opportunities as they arise. As part of the transaction, we have received a substantial and long-term shareholder.”
Betconstruct Opened New Regional Offices
The new offices form part of an overall international sales and service development strategy.
“According to our practice of being as close as possible to our partners and our strategy of insistently expanding into new markets, we have doubled our efforts in Latin America by opening the second sales and service centre there,” commented Vahe Baloulian; BetConstruct’s CEO.
“At the same time, we are not overlooking our European home base, the eastern part of which will now be better served by our newly established and expanding Kiev branch,” he added.
Richard Carter Joined SBTech as Chief Executive Officer
Carter, former director of research at Deutsche Bank, was responsible for running the highly rated European equity gaming franchise for the past 7 years.
Between 2003 and 2009, Richard worked at the London listed Stockbroker Numis Securities, as a key member of their highly rated Leisure and Gaming team. Carter was notably positioned at the forefront of several highly renowned global online gaming companies such as 888, 32Red and Empire Online.
Malta the Most Represented Nation at ICE
For those who need more proof that Malta is one of the hottest gaming hubs in Europe, then the flowing statistics should be enough. The Mediterranean island topped the ICE international league table with 34 exhibitors, followed by other well-represented countries – United States (23), Italy (18), Germany (13) and Spain (11).
Catena Media went Public
From affiliates to super-affiliates; from a small start-up to a public listed enterprise – Catena Media became the success story that many industry practitioners dream about.
“We welcome all of our new shareholders and look forward to be a listed company on Nasdaq First North” said Robert Andersson, the company’s CEO. “This is an exciting day for us and we are very motivated to continue our hard work in order to deliver profitable growth and increase shareholder value.”
Ulrik Bengtsson became the New CEO and President of Betsson AB
Being an extremely successful CEO at Betsson Malta, Ulrik Bengtsson proved that he was ready for the big step ahead. He replaced Pontus Lindwall, who returned to his previous role as Chairman of the Board.
“I have been a part of an incredible journey over the past four years with Betsson but I think that we are still only at the start of a structural transformation of the entire industry, which is enabled by a continued transfer of the activity towards online. In my role as CEO and President of Betsson, I will continue to ensure that, in the first instance, the group focuses on customers, and that innovation takes place where it is important for them. In this way Betsson will continue to gain market share. Our strategy to grow both organically and through acquisitions remains”, said Ulrik Bengtsson.
LeoVegas Public Offering Met Huge Interest
Commenting on the IPO’s huge success, Gustaf Hagman and Robin Ramm-Ericson, co-founders of LeoVegas, said: “Not even five years have passed since that spring evening when the concept for the mobile gaming company LeoVegas was born. We are happy about the extremely strong interest to invest in the LeoVegas share and now welcome almost 30,000 new shareholders.”
Notable new investors in the Malta licensed gaming giant include Catella, Handelsbanken, Swedbank Robur, Carnegie Asset Management, Keel Capital, Fonden Alcur and AMF Fonder.
888 Holdings Appointed Itai Frieberger as New CEO
Frieberger was promoted from the position of chief operating officer, which he had held since April 2011. In May 2015 he joined the 888 Holdings board.
Chairman Brian Mattingley commented: “Itai is admired throughout the online gaming industry and has been instrumental in the company’s development in recent years. He is therefore, without doubt, the natural choice to take 888 further forward in the rapidly growing online gaming market.”
Mattingley, who had been the executive chairman since 13th May 2015, became a non-executive chairman.
Gaming Innovation Group Acquired Delta Markets for €4.2 Million
In the agreement it is confirmed that GIG will be paying a premium of €4.2 million ($4.6 million) for the acquisition, 30% of which will be settled through new GIG shares, amounting to 4,336,314.
Robin Reed, founder and chief executive officer of GIG, declared: “This acquisition will make Innovation Labs the local leader for referring paying users in the highly sought after and soon-to-be regulated Dutch casino market.”
“Innovation Labs has proven to increase organic growth when bolting on individual assets to our core referral platform. We are continuing to build out our distribution channel for the top performing brands in the industry, and look forward to deliver even more quality online resources for end-users.”
Betsson announced new London Technology Centre
The company opened its new London office while partnering with collaborative workspace specialist WeWork, in order to focus on improving the firm’s technology development and data capabilities.
According to a corporate statement issued, Betsson AM governance stated that its branch in London became an integral part of its business, aiming to create further ‘direct synergies’ with its corresponding teams.
The opening of the firm’s London technology hub corresponds with the operator re-launching of its sports betting subsidiary Betsafe for the UK market.
Catena Media acquired AskGamblers.com for €15 million
On 3rd April 2016, Catena Media acquired the acknowledged and highly regarded affiliate website AskGamblers.com for EUR 15 million and thereby consolidated its position as Europe’s fastest growing company in lead generation. The transaction was the largest in Catena Media’s history.
“We are incredibly proud of acquiring AskGamblers which is one of the best brands in the affiliate market and whose operations are a perfect fit for Catena Media. AskGamblers is an extremely important site for casino operators and, through its stringent requirements for certified casinos, contributes to creating a better iGaming industry.” said Robert Andersson, CEO of Catena Media.
Unibet paid €7.5 Million to Former iGame Owners
In a statement to investors, Unibet disclosed that iGame Group had managed to meet its initial performance targets set for the financial year ending 31 December 2015.
The cost of paying the maximum earn-out of €20 million was fully provided in the financial statements of Unibet Group on 31 December 2015, so this payment has no impact on Unibet’s earnings for 2016.
Lvbet Online Casino Went Live
LVbet, the Malta-based gambling operator, launched its first online casino. LVBet.com is a fully licensed casino and regular online casino players can recognise many of the games on offer which are created by some of the best game providers like Microgaming, Net Entertainment, Thunderkick and Wazdan.
Commenting on the launch, Marcin Sapinski, a representative for the startup gambling company, said that they are extremely excited to be introducing the new casino to the online gambling market. Mr. Sapinski further noted that they want to make their players feel special and to know that they matter to the online gaming brand.
Leovegas Launched Sports Betting Product
Gustaf Hagman, CEO and co-founder of LeoVegas Group commented on the launch: “LeoVegas` mobile DNA and innovative strength are the foundation for our market-leading position in mobile gaming. I am very proud of our employees who have enabled us to launch a product that will bring mobile sports betting to a new level.”
“We launched LeoVegas Sport in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands and Canada. We’re looking at expanding into more and new markets shortly”, commented CEO of LeoVegas Gaming Ltd. Johan Styren.
Cherry Signed Acquisition Agreement with Comeon
Swedish gaming company Cherry AB acquired 49% of ComeOn Malta Ltd.’s shares, with an option to also acquire the 51% remaining. The acquisition strengthened Cherry’s position in Scandinavian markets significantly and provided great opportunities for international expansion.
CEO of Cherry AB, Fredrik Burvall, said: “This acquisition will strengthen Cherry’s position in online gaming against competitors in Scandinavia and other European markets. Both Cherry and ComeOn are growing considerably faster than the market as a whole, which facilitates further investments in existing brands and continued expansion in new markets. We will add several strong brands and will profit from the strong entrepreneurial spirit within ComeOn.”
Everymatrix Launched Development Office in Vietnam
Ebbe Groes, CEO and co-founder of EveryMatrix, said: “The present iGaming industry displays a significant commercial potential which translates into a growing number of clients for our company. This reality required a new development office so that we can offer the same high-quality products and respond to the latest demands of our clients for responsive desktop and mobile solutions.”
EveryMatrix’s global office portfolio now consists of the UK, Romania, Denmark, Norway, China, Malta, Ukraine, Philippines, Armenia and Vietnam.
Gaming Innovation Group Acquired Betit Holdings
Gaming Innovation Group signed an agreement to acquire all shares in iGaming operator Betit Holdings Ltd., which owns some of the biggest operators in the Scandinavian iGaming market including SuperLenny. com, Kaboo.com and Thrills.com. The deal is worth approximately €54 million.
Robin Reed, CEO of GIG, said: “Through this agreement, we team up with some of the most accomplished entrepreneur’s in the industry, significantly enhancing our reach to end-users, marketing partners and professionals. Our vision is to make the industry an open and connected eco-system and we will all benefit from the commercial and operational synergies. The acquired technology will accelerate our ability to grow and strengthen our base for further M&A activity.”
Sbtech Secured Software Licence in Romania
SBTech was granted a B2B Class 2 Software Provider License by the National Gambling Office in Romania.
Romania is the latest regulated European market to license the company, which allows it to continue expanding its existing portfolio of awarded permits in numerous regulated markets such as UK, Ireland, Portugal, and more.
Richard Carter, CEO of SBTech, commented: “Increasing the number of regulated markets in which we operate is a key part of our strategy and I am delighted that we are entering the Romanian market, having met the high standards set by the ONJN.”
Mr Green Launched Sportsbook Product
MrGreen extended their portfolio with a Sportsbook product powered by Malta-headquartered provider Kambi. Malta-licensed operator launched its sportsbook ahead of schedule announced in February – a few days before the UEFA Euro 2016.
Per Norman, CEO of Mr Green & Co AB commented: “By launching a Sportsbook, we are meeting our customers’ demand for betting and odds. Together, we have managed to build the Sportsbook in record time thanks to our new, efficient product platform. We have built a Sportsbook of the same high quality as our online casino.”
Tipbet extended ‘Premium Partnership’ with Fortuna Dusseldorf
Conducted by Infront Sports & Media, a representative marketing agency for Fortuna Dusseldorf, for Bundesliga 2 season 2016/17, the Tipbet trademark gained a widespread coverage all the way through the ESpirt Arena (capacity 50,000) on match days.
Product Marketing Manager for Tipbet, Philippos Naskos, said: “Tipbet Betting stands for passion in sport! We are therefore very pleased to continue our commitment with Fortuna Dusseldorf as a partner for the new season.”
Aspire Global Launched Lucky Bets Casino
“The growth rate shown by our B2B division this year shows that our solution has the value that our partners are looking for. As such, we are seeing an increase of companies wanting to work with us, offering them an additional channel to monetize their assets in today’s ultra-competitive environment”, said Jov Spiero, VP of the B2B division at Aspire Global.
“LuckyBetsCasino are delighted to partner with Aspire Global. With a high quality web and mobile solution, we can now offer a variety of the most popular games in the market”, said LuckyBetsCasino’s CEO.
Tipico released Prepaid Deposit App in Germany
With this prepaid app, sports bettors can top up their account easily via smartphone; the application is available for free download on both Android and iOS.
Prepaid cards are available in several shops across Germany, tobacconists and tobacco shops, grocery stores, gas stations, and various other providers guarantee an area-wide service.
Furthermore, the Tipico Pay application always leads the customer to the nearest point of sale, on the shortest route available.
Kyte Consultants partnered up with Featurespace
Kyte Consultants entered into an agreement with Featurespace, provider of machine learning fraud and compliance products to the gaming sector, to be official resellers of Featurespace’s ARIC™ products to gaming operators and financial institutions in Malta, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Alan Alden, Director at Kyte Consultants, commented: “We chose to partner with Featurespace because their ARIC engine offers the most advanced machine learning solution in the market, and is already successfully deployed by some of the world’s leading gaming operators and financial institutions. Featurespace’s ARIC engine will help our clients to grow their businesses while complying with regulatory requirements.”
Daily Fantasy Sports to be regulated in Malta
The Malta Gaming Authority announced that daily fantasy sports will no longer require a gambling license.
This decision towards the skill based licensing framework is expected to attract an extensive arrival of new operators to this small Mediterranean island as well as propelling Malta into the very center stage of DFS action in Europe.
Valery Bollier, CEO of Malta based operator Oulala.com stated, that MGA’s team has foreseen a few years ago the rise of a future Skills Game industry in Europe.
888 Holding launched Localised Service in Romania
“Our flagship brands, 888poker, 888casino and 888sport, operate in several regulated markets around the world, including the United Kingdom, Spain and Denmark, and have been an online destination of choice in these markets for years. We aim to offer 888.ro to Romanian players as a global brand with a unique, local flavour,” commented Chief Executive of 888 Holdings Itai Frieberger.
KPMG to aid creation of National Self-Exclusion Platform in the UK
The company will initially assist the trade body by undertaking a scoping study which will help to shape the development of the National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme. It will then support and advise the RGA during the implementation process which could take place before the end of 2017.
RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood commented: “Self-exclusion can be a vitally important tool, especially for problem gamblers or those who are at risk of developing problems.”
NetEnt went live with Rank Group
NetEnt entered into an agreement with major UK gambling operator Rank Group. Following a seamless integration process, online players at Rank Group can now enjoy titles by one of the world’s leading providers.
This move came as part of NetEnt’s strategy to further extend its presence in the rapidly growing UK online gambling market that is so highly competitive.
Enrico Bradamante, Managing Director of NetEnt Malta Ltd. said that they are happy to sign a deal that would expand their presence in the regulated UK market, and further noted that their titles will most certainly be enjoyed by Rank Group customers.