At a time of increasing, but not always uniform regulation and ever more competition, it’s easy to see how margins in the iGaming industry are being squeezed. Yet that’s doing nothing to slow down growth, with one major player returning consistently impressive figures.
Evolution Gaming, one of the most trusted providers of ‘live casino’ gaming software in the world, recorded a 54% increase in operating revenues in the first quarter of 2019, compared to the same period last year, up to €79.3m from €51.6m and second quarter revenues of €85.7m (45% increase YOY).
That’s an eye-opening figure proving the online gambling market is far from reaching its peak. Profits for Evolution were up, too, rising to €28.6m for the quarter (€16.5m).
Such a strong performance does not happen by accident. Evolution is reaping the rewards for investing in growth and innovation throughout 2018.
And with the increasing appetite for ‘live dealer’ gaming showing no signs of slowing down, the outlook for 2020 and beyond looks exciting.
The optimism is entirely justified because there are several drivers behind the growth.
Growing interest in live dealer games
There was a time when online casino table games featured little more than animated graphics with a random number generator spitting out cards or selecting where the roulette wheel ball would fall. At first, customers enjoyed the novelty factor of gambling online.
But one thing these games lacked was apparent trust. If you can’t see a human dealer shuffling and using real cards, or spinning a roulette wheel in real time, then how can you be sure the game is fair? Of course, we’re not suggesting the old games were corrupt, but players love interacting with real, live dealers.
Live casino games, like the growing offering from Evolution, have become an immersive experience. You bet in real time, can chat to the dealer, and wait while new decks of cards are added to the shoe in blackjack – decks of cards that you watched being shuffled and cut by an assistant moments before. Now, there is no reason to blame the games for being rigged should you hit a losing streak; the games are 100% trustworthy and realistic.
Featuring real people, and therefore being easier to follow, live casino games are also attracting a new audience through platforms like YouTube and Twitch, where broadcasters are able to chronical their live dealer action in real time to huge audiences.
Some have been watched over 500,000 times. Many viewers may not have contemplated online gambling in its formative years, but the live dealer set-up creates a visually stimulating experience which is driving many more to sign up and give it a go.
The casino operators, of course, have seen this coming from a mile off. Once only a few dabbled in the live casino experience, preferring to stick to the tried-and-tested old-fashioned, animated format.
Now, any online casino worthy of playing at will have a full suite of live dealer games. Further, the casino bosses recognise what a rising star the format is, so they offer bespoke sign-up bonuses for their live dealer games.
The bigger operators, such as Kindred Group’s Unibet Casino, use the Evolution Gaming live dealer studios, but brand the tables in the Unibet logo and messaging. It’s a white label set-up that benefits Stars while further boosting revenues at Evolution.
Evolution offers more for existing customers
One of the major attractions of live dealer gaming is interacting with the actual dealer. While you may not wish to chat, you’ll certainly enjoy listening to their conversation. Some are real performers, adding to the whole user experience.
However, one obvious flaw is when the dealer does not speak your language. If he or she is English, and you are Italian, you’re not going to get the same enjoyment from your session at the tables.
Evolution recognises this is a key area for growth and is investing in new native speaking tables for its studios. While the big, licensed languages were catered for earlier, such as French and Spanish, more are being added all the time.
Recently, Portuguese tables appeared, opening up live roulette and blackjack to the wider market in Brazil. Finnish has been added to the same games by the Betsson Group Casinos. We’ve recently seen Arabic games, and live casino hold’em in Italian!
Clearly, as regulated markets continue to open up, there is potential for Evolution to grow further by expanding not just the languages it offers, but the games it runs in those languages.
Rumours are already circulating that Evolution Gaming are setting up a Hindi language live casino tables and a Japanese studio to offer games in those markets.
New games appealing to different audiences
The online gambling sector has always been innovative, driven by fast-evolving technologies and from having some of the best developers available. In terms of marketing, the sector recognised early on that one size does not fit all: while many players enjoy traditional games like roulette and blackjack, many others want something different.
It is diversifying that worked well for the online poker market. Think about the advent of speed poker, started by Full Tilt with its Rush ring games. Add the more recent “Spin and Go” multiplier format which began at Winamax. Evolution took this valuable lesson and applied it to the live dealer experience.
New games like Lightning Roulette are breaking the mould. In this version of the game, once the fast betting action is over, the dealer spins reels that add win multipliers to random numbers. If that number comes up, and you have bet on it, you might get up to 500 times your winnings. The action is fast and furious, just like the name Lightning suggests.
It’s a concept that attracts an entirely new audience, including those who usually prefer casino slot games, who enjoy the fast pace and prize multipliers on offer. And while casino operators benefit from extending the lifetime value of customers, Evolution will get more income.
More new formats and games are coming out of development all the time. There’s Dream Catcher, a new version of the traditional spin the wheel, and Lightning Dice, which takes something as simple as predicting the total sum from three dice and turns it into an exciting live casino game.
Like slots, licensing deals for big-name new games add further to Evolution’s potential. Recent additions to its live offering include Monopoly Live and Deal Or No Deal. Both offer exciting takes on the original, widening the reach of each client casino’s marketing efforts.
New integrations keep being signed
As has already been pointed out, all of the better operators now offer live casino games, and many of them are with Evolution. So is there really more growth potential? Or are we hitting the ceiling?
The truth is new partners are integrating the Evolution live dealer experience all the time. The company’s Q1 update mentioned several new partnerships, including with the fantasy sports operator Draft Kings in the USA, Loto-Québec in Canada and Svenska Spel in Sweden.
The Canadian and Swedish operators are run and owned by the national Governments, which adds further credibility to the Evolution brand.
The big USA question
The US online gambling market is huge. Unfortunately, it’s not open to all, and different games are only available in certain states. The online poker market took a huge hit when the game was banned under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, and all related online gaming stopped. Only in recent years has it begun to open up as states began legalising it, such as in Nevada and New Jersey.
Opportunities for the online casino and gaming sector and the companies like Evolution that supply it are clear. Coherent Market Insights predicts the US online gambling market could be worth $123 billion by the year 2026. Drivers, it notes, are wider digitization and access to devices, plus increasing trust in online payment services.
The potential in the US is so great it adds rocket fuel to Evolution Gaming’s upward trajectory.
Sitting pretty despite the competitive landscape
As we’ve seen, Evolution has enjoyed meteoric success. There can’t be many businesses in the online gambling space that can boast year-on-year revenue increases of over 50%.
A potential threat to this growth is new competitors arriving and trying to take a piece of the action. However, such is Evolution’s dominance, experience and superior service levels; it’s hard to see any reason why operators would want to partner with anybody else.
Innovation is one way a competitor might try to get a foothold in the next five years, but unfortunately for anyone thinking of trying (and it would be an expensive route to market anyway), Evolution is already well down the road with the likes of Lightning Roulette or Monopoly Live.
With the outlined drivers to growth and the current buoyant market landscape, it’s hard to see a world anytime soon where Evolution Gaming is not continuing its tremendous growth, while maintaining its impressive record of snapping up industry awards for its games.
Raketech: Interim report Q3 2019
THIRD QUARTER 2019
- Total revenues amounted to EUR 6.0 million (EUR 7.0 million) representing a decrease of 15.1%.
- Organic growth amounted to -17.9% (28.6%).
- Adjusted EBITDA decreased by 34.2% to EUR 2.7 million (EUR 4.1 million), corresponding to a margin of 45.5% (58.7%).
- Adjusted operating profit amounted to EUR 1.5 million (EUR 3.7 million), corresponding to a margin of 25.1% (52.4%).
- Profit for the period decreased by EUR 0.5 million from EUR 1.7 million to EUR 1.2 million.
- Earnings per share before dilution amounted to EUR 0.03 (EUR 0.05) representing a decrease of 38.5%.
- NDCs (New Depositing Customers) decreased by 0.2% to 26,782 (26,837).
FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2019
- Revenues increased by 0.7% to EUR 18.1 million (EUR 17.9 million).
- Organic growth amounted to -3.7% (22.6 %).
- Adjusted EBITDA decreased by 8.6% to EUR 9.0 million (EUR 9.9 million), corresponding to a margin of 50.0% (55.1%).
- Adjusted operating profit amounted to EUR 6.2 million (EUR 8.9 million), corresponding to a margin of 34.4% (49.7%).
- Profit for the period amounted to EUR 7.5 million (EUR 2.8 million) representing an increase by 165.9%.
- Earnings per share before dilution amounted to EUR 0.20 (EUR 0.10) representing an increase of 100.6%.
- NDCs (New Depositing Customers) increased by 26.4% to 80,364 (63,599).
EVENTS DURING THIRD QUARTER 2019
- Casumba Media Ltd., a Maltese registered media company, was acquired during the quarter for the agreed purchase price of EUR 2.0 million with the possibility of additional earnouts based on certain performance measures. Casumba offers an extensive amount of affiliate websites in the Japanese market and through the acquisition Raketech gets an immediate footprint in Japan as an emerging market in iGaming.
- During the quarter Raketech has repurchased in total 108,000 own shares. The share repurchases have been carried out within the buy-back programme authorised at the annual general meeting held on 8 May 2019.
SUBSEQUENT EVENTS AFTER THE END OF THE THIRD QUARTER
- On 1 October it was announced that the current Chief Financial Officer, Andreas Kovacs, has been appointed as Director of Business Development, a new role, and Måns Svalborn will join as CFO. Måns will officially take over as CFO on 1st December 2019.
CEO MICHAEL HOLMBERG COMMENTS ON THE QUARTER
“In the third quarter, both revenues and the number of NDCs increased compared to the previous quarter, despite a continued challenge in the Swedish gaming market. We have a positive underlying revenue development with an increased revenue share, which drives recurring revenues – however, this will come into full effect during the upcoming years. During the quarter, we continued to focus on global expansion, with concrete progress in both Japan and Germany. All in all, this gives us confidence for the future, even though the result for the third quarter is unsatisfactory.
Our products continue to generate high traffic levels for our partners. The underlying NDC development is on par with the previous year, despite changing conditions in the Swedish market. The NDC growth of 7 percent compared to the second quarter shows strength in customer acquisition and traffic. I am glad that we can show a strong operating cash flow for the quarter of EUR 3.2 million, which is 41 percent higher than the corresponding period last year.
For the first time ever, Raketech’s operations outside of the Nordic region accounted for 10 percent of the revenue mix, with contributions from Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Japan amongst others. This is thanks to the ongoing efforts to expand geographically.
In brief, the expansion strategy means that we will operate in at least three continents, and each continent will represent at least 10% of the company’s revenues over time. This is a clear strategy that we are executing. I am certain that we will be successful in building a global company, with products in sports and gaming that serves operators, media companies and other businesses with a focus on responsible and user-focused services.”
PRESENTATION FOR INVESTORS, ANALYSTS AND THE MEDIA
CEO Michael Holmberg and CFO Andreas Kovacs will present the report and answer questions in an audiocast at 9.00 a.m. CET on 21 November. The presentation will be held in English and can be followed online via https://tv.streamfabriken.com/raketech-q3-2019. To participate by phone, please dial +46 8 5664 2703 (SE), +44 3333 009 263 (UK)
The report is attached to this press release and also available at https://raketech.com/investor/
About Raketech Group
Raketech is a leading online affiliate and content marketing company, specialised in comparison services for sports and gaming, online guides, communities and social media products in primarily the Nordic region and the UK. Through some 20 flagship brands, Raketech guides sports and gaming enthusiasts to the best possible services, while also delivering high-quality traffic and leads to its partners. Raketech grows both organically and via acquisitions and operates its business in accordance with a clear framework for responsible affiliate marketing services. The company’s shares are listed in Nasdaq First North Premier Growth Market with ticker RAKE. Erik Penser Bank AB is the company’s Certified Adviser ([email protected] / +46 8 463 83 00). For more information, visit www.raketech.com.
Highlight Games Announces Extension Of Italian “Serie A” Rights
London-based video virtual sports specialist Highlight Games Limited today announces that it has extended its rights agreement to use archive footage from the biggest clubs in Italian Serie A in its betting products globally.
Highlight Games’ premium SOCCERBET single match and league products are exclusively licensed and ADM approved. Following the extension of rights, SOCCERBET will be available to customers in additional territories both for retail and online implementations.
SOCCERBET is currently available in Italy and live with leading operators including Eurobet, Sisal and Lottomatica, where it is the #1 performing virtual sports product across all channels by both turnover and GGR. The game will also be live with Snaitech, Goldbet and SKS365 in Italy before the end of 2019.
Highlight Games’ Italian Serie A SOCCERBET games can be viewed here
Stewart Whittle, Founder, Highlight Games, said, “The Serie A version of SOCCERBET has already proven to be hugely popular with players in Italy, and Highlight Games is delighted to be further extending its availability globally for betting and lottery operators. In offering players the unique opportunity to bet on genuine archive footage with real commentary Highlight Games has developed a product which is changing the way in which customers engage with and bet on virtual sports.”
GeoComply’s Anna Sainsbury Makes List of iGaming’s Most Influential Women of 2019
GeoComply, the global leader in compliance-grade geolocation solutions, is extremely pleased to announce that its founder and chairman, Anna Sainsbury, has been named as one of iGaming most influential women of 2019. The list, compiled by Clarion Gaming and published in iGaming Business, aims to showcase the industry’s most accomplished women and inspire others to progress their careers within the industry.
“This year’s list features women who have played key roles in transformations within their organisations, women who’ve been champions of diversity and women who’ve raised the profile of the entire sector itself,” said Stephen Carter, editorial director of iGaming Business.
Added Ewa Bakun, director of industry insight and engagement at Clarion Gaming and a member of the judging panel: “We have seen the topic of diversity and inclusion evolve over the last few years from a truly niche one to the mainstream and every major organisation in the gambling sector, which is still male- dominated if we look at the board levels, understands now that it’s as much a commercial imperative as it is a moral one.“
“The unprecedented market growth we have seen in our industry since the repeal of PASPA has opened the doors for innovation and change,” said Anna Sainsbury of GeoComply. “It is an honor to be recognized as a leading figure through that growth and also an honor to work with the many women at GeoComply, across all levels and functions, as we build on a culture of equality and diversity.”
About the List
The list was compiled from nominations received by a survey conducted on SurveyMonkey between July 22 and September 10. The survey was promoted to those working within gaming or related sectors.
The entries received were then assessed by a panel of judges chosen from across the industry. The judges were Ewa Bakun, director of industry insight and engagement at Clarion Gaming; Andrew Bulloss, partner at Odgers Berndtson; Kelly Kehn and Christina Thakor-Rankin, co-founders of All-in Diversity Project; Suzi Read, head of talent development at Kindred; Holly Straker, inclusion, engagement and events executive at Sky Betting and Gaming; and Helen Walton, founder and CCO of Gamevy and Gluck.
GeoComply is a global leader in geolocation technology. Since launching in 2011, GeoComply has quickly become the iGaming industry’s trusted solution for reliable, secure, and accurate geolocation services. GeoComply currently supports regulated online casino, poker, sports betting, lottery, ADW, and DFS operators in 44 US states to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. For more information, please visit GeoComply.com.
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