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Praesepe, Blueprint and Bacta move quickly to answer charity SOS

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Gauselmann owned brands, Praesepe and Blueprint have joined forces with UK trade association, Bacta to donate £12,000 to fund 100 Amazon Fire tablets and care packages to industry charity, Rays of Sunshine (ROS). The tablets, described as a ‘god send’ by ROS chief executive Laura Barnett, will be distributed to children who, due to restrictions introduced to help stem the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, find themselves isolated from friends and family in hospital.

Explaining the impact and the importance of the donation, Laura Barnett said: “We’re so thankful to Gauselmann and Bacta for their incredibly generous donation of £12,000 which will enable us to continue brightening the lives of seriously ill children during this incredibly challenging time. The money donated will fund Amazon Fire tablets and care packages for hospitals, who we know have an immediate need due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. For children who are currently isolated in hospital receiving treatment, the tablets will help to alleviate their anxiety and distract them from the uncertainty related to their condition by enabling them to access virtual entertainment and, most crucially, keep connected with their friends and family.”

Praesepe Chief Operating Officer, Mark Schertle explained: “We have a close relationship with the Bacta Charitable Trust donating some £45,000 over the last nine months, so we know of the fantastic work undertaken by Rays of Sunshine in terms of granting wishes to children with serious or life-limiting illness.   When we were made aware of how the pandemic was impacting the ability to continue their work, we thought there must be a way of doing a little bit more at this important time.   We then spoke with our colleagues at Blueprint and John White at Bacta and I’m delighted that we have been able to move quickly and to be of some practical use.   Laura and her team are budgeting for a seven figure loss of income this year, which is a massive blow for everyone connected to the charity, especially the children and their families.”

David Purvis, Managing Director of Blueprint Operations added: “We are all currently facing challenging impacts to our lives and businesses.   Sadly, we have all borne witness to how this insidious virus is impacting our families, our communities and our very way of life.   We hope that our donation of 100 Amazon Fire Tablets to the children of Rays of Sunshine will make a positive difference to their lives and the challenges they have at this time.   Although these are trying times for us all, we remain optimistic that the UK will thrive again soon.”

John White believes this latest contribution to good causes shows the industry at its very best.  He said: “The Bacta Charitable Trust was contacted by Praesepe/Blueprint to see if we would be able to jointly fund the 100 tablets and the answer was an unequivocal yes. In less than a week we’ve moved from reading about the issues faced by Rays of Sunshine to doing something really positive and helping to brighten the lives of children who have been cut-off from their loved ones. Not only does the industry have a massive heart but it also has a remarkable ‘can do’ attitude and the ability to make things happen – irrespective of the circumstances. I think the industry should be extremely proud.”

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Astralis Capital lauds success of PlayAIO as its first incubation investment

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PlayAIO announces its landmark partnership with Astralis Capital and an investment from Astralis Fund I LP (together “Astralis”). This marks a first for Astralis as PlayAIO becomes part of a newly created gaming incubation strategy.

“With Astralis Capital, it has been a truly synergistic partnership, I couldn’t think of a better way to start a business. With Astralis on board, we have continued to see rapid growth as we grow to be a market leader within the industry” said Josh Gibbs, CEO of PlayAIO.

“It’s been great working with both Evan and Tisno. They, along with PlayAIO, continue to see the untapped potential data brings to any organization.”

PlayAIO was founded in 2023 by Josh Gibbs, formerly of Kambi and Strive Gaming in customer data leadership roles. It has quickly grown an established contracted customer base and having gone live in May 2024. The launches have been smooth and well received by their customers.

Steven Farrugia, an iGaming data veteran who built models for ComeOn Group among others, recently joined PlayAIO as CTO, and the company has bolstered the team with staff members for their bases in the UK and Malta over the past months.

PlayAIO is a data and AI business that focuses on simplicity through understanding, aiming to aid businesses to unlock the power of their biggest asset: their data. This is all done through PlayAIO’s proprietary PlayAIO Engine. The PlayAIO Engine provides an always-on strategic insights and recommendations tool.

On a real-time basis, users are guided on where action is required and where focus should be placed, recommending AI models that will provide the highest impact to customers and their revenues, be it LTVs, game recommendations, responsible gaming, and a plethora of other models that are being leveraged by customers.

Astralis’ incubation strategy is incredibly helpful to new and experienced founders alike because, alongside investment, the firm provides dedicated strategic and operational support to founders including go to market and partnership guidance.

Astralis Capital, has invested in a number of iGaming and sports startups, including the leading daily fantasy operator PrizePicks, sports/betting micro-influencer aggregator SGG Media, sports social media platform Takes, Inc. and the leading US PAM startup Strive Gaming. Astralis has developed a reputation for astute iGaming investments supported by providing expert advice to founders to help accelerate company growth.

On PlayAIO, Evan Meyer, Co-Managing Partner, Astralis Capital, said:

“What Josh and Steven are driving at PlayAIO falls exactly within the scope of startup successes we’ve seen before. They have a clear vision, execution plan and technical product know-how in a developing iGaming and online sports betting market that is quickly becoming more sophisticated and understanding of the value of effective usage of Machine Learning and data analytics. We’ve been incredibly impressed by the pipeline of potential client discussions, new customer uptake and smooth launches thus far.”

Fellow Co-Managing Partner Tisno Onggara of Astralis Capital added: “The mission of PlayAIO is ultimately the reason we decided to partner and help incubate PlayAIO. We see growing trends within the industry surrounding AI, but very few companies have the internal technology and ability to act on this. We believe PlayAIO will be one of a select group of trusted partners to the industry and will continue to competitively strengthen over time given their models and a positive market outlook. The data market is an area within gaming that will change rapidly in the next few years, and we are excited to be on that journey with PlayAIO.”

PlayAIO Unlocks the Power of Your Data with AI-Driven Optimization.

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Latest News

Sigma X SmartSoft Present: Malta IGathering

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Sigma X SmartSoft Present: Malta IGathering
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Mark your calendars for an exciting addition to the already packed autumn calendar. As a warm-up to Malta Week, before Grand Sigma Europe event, Sigma & Smartsoft will host an exclusive gathering for industry key representatives. This modest IGathering will bring together industry leaders and professionals for a chance to connect, exchange ideas, and discuss emerging trends.

Creating meaningful and valuable experiences for its partners remains a priority for SmartSoft, a commitment they stick to. This event is just another example of their ongoing effort to build long-lasting relationships. Such gatherings are important for getting to know industry representatives, deepening ties with partners, and who knows how many new ideas and collaborations will take start there?

The dinner event will take place on the 10th at Gracy’s Arts and Supper Club, nestled in the heart of Valletta. Set in a historic 17th-century Palazzo, this venue embodies the best of Maltese hospitality. This exclusive event promises to be a highlight for industry professionals seeking innovative partnerships and networking opportunities.

Guests are invited to embrace the fun theme, ‘A Touch of Red,’ by incorporating red into their attire. The evening will feature a live lottery, and plenty of surprises, and gifts, ensuring an unforgettable experience.

The iGathering is the perfect introduction to SiGMA Europe’s Malta Week event, celebrating 10 years of success in the gaming sector. The November event is set to take place at the Malta Maritime Hub, an operational shipyard accessible by both car and water taxi.

From the 11th to 14th, join us for expert-led conferences on online and offline gaming, AI, and blockchain, set against a well-curated expo floor. The event features two major award ceremonies for the B2B and B2C markets, several dinners in Malta’s stunning locations, and wraps up with a lively party featuring really fun entertainment lineup.

SmartSoft is the pioneer crash games provider that has been creating innovative games and operating on the B2B market since 2015. SmartSoft offers a diverse portfolio of non-traditional casino games, including the pioneering flying crash game, JetX. Along with the fact that for so many years SmartSoft has been shaping the igaming industry, creating groundbreaking and innovative games, SmartSoft made a significant stride last year by joining the prestigious Argentine National Team as their digital sponsor and became a proud member of World Champion’s family.

At SmartSoft, every game is created from scratch, featuring inventive design, a steadfast engine, and enhanced functionality. The games boast a variety of stories and features, ensuring an imaginative gaming experience. Every product offered by the company is compatible with all platforms and devices.

SmartSoft is just as committed to offering unforgettable experiences to its customers as it is to its partners. Because one is linked to another and represents company’s core values. Join the event, meet interesting people and fly even higher with SmartSoft.

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Interviews

Go direct – Fantasma Games strengthens partner collaboration with proprietary platform

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Go direct - Fantasma Games strengthens partner collaboration with proprietary platform
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Check out our latest Q&A w/ Fredrik Johansson CEO and Founder, Fantasma Games

 

Fantasma has recently launched its own FantasmaXpand platform, could you please let us know more about this initiative?

We have seen exceptional interest and demand for Fantasma’s premium and innovative online slot games and we wanted to take our offering to the next level. Launching our own platform, which we call FantasmaXpand, is a strategic initiative driven by our operator partners’ desire to collaborate more closely with us to improve overall business operations and access to our portfolio of games and wider development capabilities. The desire for deeper collaboration from our operator partners clearly indicates that our focus on providing high-performing slots with engaging game mechanics has enabled us to take this next important and natural step to support our partners’ local and global business growth strategies. It is very important for us to maintain the highest level of trust and reliability as we roll out Fantasma Xpand to our network of operator partners and the team we have built at Fantasma is more than capable of doing this.

 

How will you use FantasmaXpand to deliver more value to your operator partners?

We are all very committed to maintaining the highest level of quality assurance in everything we do, and we follow a clear plan as we expand our operational capabilities to our partners. In short, FantasmaXpand will provide local and global operator partners with a truly reliable, scalable and seamless gateway to access Fantasma’s “beyond gambling” portfolio of premium and innovative content, along with easy-to-use gamification tools. FantasmaXpand will also enable us to drive continued operational excellence while offering our collaborating partners outstanding flexibility and a reduced time-to-market (TTM) for our premium roadmap and the rollout of new innovative features and functions.

 

How does it enable you to push the boundaries with development?

We pride ourselves on having trustful and meaningful long-term relationships with our partners. FantasmaXpand will allow us to capitalise on these close partnerships and expand our joint collaborative initiatives both locally and globally, in a way that means our partners will be an integral part of how the FantasmaXpand roadmap is prioritised and developed. This means that our teams can focus on enhancing the technology roadmap, tuned and calibrated to our operators’ specific needs, which in turn enhances the overall strategic business partner value we bring and the experience our operators receive when accessing our premium offerings.

 

Why don’t all studios have their own platform? Does it bring challenges? If so, what?

Fantasma has seen outstanding growth from its operations to date, and as mentioned, our FantasmaXpand initiative is a direct response to our operator partners wanting to expand their overall business relationship with us. Not all studios have the strategy or capability to achieve the organisational readiness required to roll out such initiatives. Instead, many studios choose to focus solely on content development, which may be absolutely fine for them, allowing others to do the heavy lifting. Being ready and planning ahead has been key to maintaining focus and quality in legacy operations, and it is crucial for us not to impact the trust and reliability we have built with our operator partners over the years. As an organisation, you need to be prepared and willing to follow through on strategic initiatives that truly matter for continued sustainable growth in a hyper-competitive environment. One challenge may be daring to take this next step. But with our operator partners behind us, it has been a natural and necessary step for us to take.

 

Does FantasmaXpand help you enter new markets? If so, what markets have you got your eye on?

FantasmaXpand allows us to be in full control of our business strategy in close collaboration with our operator partners. From a go-to-market perspective, this is crucial, as seamless rollout and release management are necessary to maximise business value for us and our partners. FantasmaXpand is currently certified in many regulatory markets, and we will continue expanding the reach of FantasmaXpand in close collaboration with our partners. In terms of market reach, we currently offer our premium content in all of the major regulated markets in Europe. Our clear organisational objective is to be live with FantasmaXpand in all our regulated markets globally. However, like any expansion, we will implement a phased rollout approach for FantasmaXpand as this is the only way to ensure we don’t drop the ball with our legacy operations and partnerships.

 

What other developments from Fantasma can you share with us?

We have seen exceptional performance from our 2024 games portfolio, driven by titles such as Gold Pigger, Circle of Sylvan, Pirates Multi Coins and Shadow Summoner Elementals which have surpassed all KPIs. The US market has developed exceptionally well for Fantasma, and we have our eyes on LatAm as an exciting emerging growth market with plenty of opportunities to explore. In addition, our operator partners will benefit from a very exciting roadmap for the rest of the year. This, combined with the rollout of FantasmaXpand, means I am very excited to build continued positive momentum together with our partners. I am very optimistic about the future and our current momentum.

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