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We must be guided by the education sector to deliver effective prevention programmes to young people

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Lee Willows: ‘We should be humbled that addiction levels are coming down: do we really think that big state programmes, funded by a statutory levy and controlled by the NHS could do any better?’
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YGAM Chief Executive Lee Willows reflects on some of the key topics to emerge from three reports published last week and highlights the valuable contribution the charity is making.

Last week was a significant week for everyone connected the gambling industry. Reading the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling (ABSG) annual progress report; The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report and the Lords Select Committee report, it was pleasing to read these reports all featured insight from people with direct experience of the tragic harm that gambling can cause some individuals, such as the YGAM Founders. As Chief Executive of the YGAM charity and personally as someone who lost everything to a gambling addiction, I was grateful for the opportunity to contribute my insight and experiences. Such inclusion would have been unheard of five-years ago. Having three incredibly helpful reports published in quick succession over a period of five days is in many ways helpful and timely as YGAM continues to evolve our strategy. I congratulate everyone involved in producing three fascinating reports that will inform the debate moving forward.

At YGAM, we strongly believe that prevention, including education is an essential component to reduce gambling-related harms. We engage with the education sector daily and we are constantly listening to the needs of teachers, practitioners and young people. It is very clear from these conversations that teachers and practitioners need and appreciate our resources more than ever. The feedback we get from teachers, practitioners and young people and the insight from external evaluations is overwhelmingly positive and there is an enormous demand for information on gambling and gaming. Whilst it was pleasing to see education feature in all three reports, the voices of the professionals working in that sector should also be taken into consideration. We must continue to be guided by professionals working in the education sector to deliver effective prevention programmes to young people.

The focus on the blurred lines between gaming and gambling is welcomed. The YGAM workshops help build digital resilience and educate people on the different types of games accessible to children. We agree with the DCMS Select Committee and the Children’s Commissioner that loot boxes that contain the element of chance should not be sold to children under 18. The concern about allowing children to access loot boxes is that it is conditioning them to gambling behaviour from an early age. Building on our discussions with DCMS we look forward to contributing to the government’s call to action on loot boxes which will hopefully lead to consideration of an appropriate regulatory intervention.

The debate around gambling advertising and the impact it has on younger generations is imperative. You do not have to work in this sector to notice that gambling adverts dominate the promotional spaces at most sporting events. The YGAM resources tackle this topic head on as we continue to raise awareness of the potential harms and the support available. We believe concerns about marketing and sponsorship should be addressed by evidence-based analysis that puts the safety of young people first and we look forward to contributing to this debate.

When the Gambling Commission launched the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling-Related Harms, there was real hope for change and there has been some positive change; yes more can be done and some actions need to move in a more expedient manner, but change does take time. I also worry that in the desire to affect structural change, or radically change strategic direction part way through a national strategy may result in valuable insight being lost. I do see many people and organisations coming together to deliver the strategy which is superb and that is where we will continue to have a relentless focus.

Certainly in my time in YGAM I have seen Safer Gambling teams within operators increase from one employee, who led Safer Gambling work on a part-time bases, to now large Safer Gambling teams with twenty plus employees working full-time in this area of work. In that time, I have also seen and been fortunate to work alongside others who have been affected by gambling-harms set up their own organisations and I have witnessed the rise of passionate campaigners who demand change, often following tragic circumstances. At the heart of all this work is a shared commitment to reduce-harms and it would be so oxygenating if more time can be spent finding common goals and delivering the national strategy.

As a prevention charity we will continue to focus on the delivery of education, building and sharing insight and demonstrating impact. This is a crucial period for the future of this sector and everyone at YGAM looks forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholder groups to ensure all young and vulnerable people are safe from gaming and gambling related harms.

Finally, YGAM has published its strategic plan 2019 – 2021 and within our annual review filed with the Charity Commission and Companies House we share progress against our strategic goals and insight. However next week, we will have a dedicated page on our website which will also show this progress, insight, and our impact in a succinct manner. I am incredibly proud of the YGAM team and many colleagues from all parts of the sector (inc charities, trade bodies, operators, regulators, ABSG, DCMS, teachers, young people, EbEs); working hard to make a difference in this space.

Lee Willows
Chief Executive, YGAM

Blockchain

The Metaverse in 2022 and Beyond

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We launched the first edition of our metaverse report in July 2021.
Then, the metaverse, NFTs, and blockchain gaming transitioned from being largely unknown concepts to ubiquitous terms on the lips of
every major brand or investor. Despite the hype somewhat cooling down in recent months—partly as a result of the global macroeconomic situation—interest in the metaverse as a natural and immersive successor to the 2D internet is still at an all-time high.
The transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 will not only impact the modus operandi of (major) brands, but also the way in which consumers live, work, and experience entertainment.
The evolution of simulated, 3D worlds presents a particularly massive opportunity for brands. The transition from diffused physical spaces
and into virtual worlds provides them with a new opportunity to reach a highly condensed mass of users that is more difficult to both
approach and monetize through other forms of advertising. This transition into virtual worlds can only accelerate as the current
generations of digital natives age and as virtual experiences become more authentic. Fast-moving brands like Nike, Louis Vuitton,
Balenciaga, or technology brands like Meta—to name just a few—recognized this shifting of the tide and have already developed
metaverse strategies.
Moreover, while NFTs and blockchain games have experienced a spectacular 2021, a severe drawback in the crypto market along with
fears of a global recession have both led to public interest and coin valuations substantially waning in recent months. As a result, this
correction will likely end most of the (low effort) endeavors in these areas. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic about the future and remain
confident that the top projects will succeed.
Given how fast-moving this space still is, an elemental understanding of the building blocks and trends that surround it is essential.
Therefore, in this report, we identify and discuss the top 10 prevailing trends in the metaverse, blockchain gaming, and NFT space.
Understanding these trends (and what drives them) will help companies endemic to gaming, consumer brands, and consumers alike
to navigate the murky waters of the metaverse, along with its connection to NFTs and blockchain games. We hope you find this
report insightful and useful for shaping your strategy in 2022 and beyond.

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Armadillo Studios to release its first branded slot – The Lioness with Amanda Nunes

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Armadillo Studios to release its first branded slot - The Lioness with Amanda Nunes
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Armadillo Studios announces the upcoming release of its first branded slot, featuring the famous Brazilian MMA champion Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes. The new title will be live on August 2, 2022.

The Lioness, Armadillo Studios’ first branded title featuring the legendary Brazilian athlete Amanda Nunes, will increase the studio’s reach of new player bases and demographics.

The slot will be launched on August 2, after the title rematch with Julianna Peña on July 30 in Dallas, where Nunes is set to reconquer her title as the UFC bantamweight champion.

Amanda Nunes is an ambitious fighter who doesn’t show weakness in her matches, being one of the best ground wrestlers in MMA and going toe-to-toe with the world’s most skilled fighters.

The slot captures Amanda Nunes’ successful career by taking the players to the UFC cage. They can experience the world of MMA fighting through various interactive mechanics, a unique Fight Feature, Free Spins, a Lioness Link bonus, and a Fortune Bet mode that upgrades Nunes’ punching power.

The smooth gameplay, great soundtrack, and animations create a captivating slot showcasing a true champion with many wins under her belt.

David Stoveld, COO of Armadillo Studios, says: “As we make strides in our U.S. market expansion, we realize the importance of branded content. We are thrilled to finally be ready to release a slot centred around a true, one-of-a-kind MMA icon. The Lioness slot has really come together, and we are proud of the final game product as well as the opportunity to work alongside the legendary Amanda Nunes.”

Amanda Nunes’ global presence will significantly boost Armadillo Studios’ reach in the localized U.S. market and provide some well-needed gender balance to the casino vertical.

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Asia

Galaxy Racer appoints Syed Ibn-E-Ali as Chief Financial Officer for South-East Asia

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Galaxy Racer appoints Syed Ibn-E-Ali as Chief Financial Officer for South-East Asia
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Galaxy Racer (GXR), the transmedia powerhouse focused on esports, content creators, music and sports, has appointed Syed Ibn-E-Ali as its new Chief Financial Officer for SEA. In his new role, he will mainly focus on the growth, strategy and finances of Galaxy Racer in South-East Asia.

Joining Galaxy Racer with over 14 years of experience in financial administration and operations management, Ali brings with him a deep understanding of Software as a Service (B2B), eCommerce and the video games industry, taking on major positions across multiple regions including the USA, South Asia and APAC.

Having worked at the top level of finance at significant tech, media and gaming companies, including Rocket Internet and Streamline Media Group, Ali will be bringing his considerable experience driving media and gaming companies forward to Galaxy Racer’s operations in South-East Asia.

In his new role, Syed Ibn-E-Ali will be responsible for helping with the organisation’s expansion across the SEA region, as well as focusing on the structuring of all Galaxy Racer’s SEA offices, policy implementation and corporate governance.

With an outstanding track record of building strong business partnerships, optimising business processes and delivering strategic growth, Ali’s rich experience in accounting, auditing and finance will give Galaxy Racer an exceptional foundation for success in South-East Asia.

Syed Ibn-E-Ali, Chief Financial Officer SEA at Galaxy Racer said: “The continued growth of Galaxy Racer speaks for itself, and I’m so excited to join the team as the Chief Financial Officer for SEA, and help take the brand’s presence in the region to the next level. Entertainment, especially esports has become one of the most hyper-growth industries in Asia and is evolving at a tremendous pace. So it’s incredibly exciting for me to be with Galaxy Racer, at the very forefront of that growth.”

Mitch Esguerra, CEO SEA at Galaxy Racer commented: “It’s a pleasure to have Syed Ibn-E-Ali join us as our new Chief Financial Officer for SEA. His vast levels of experience and expertise at the top levels of the finance industry, alongside his passion for the esports and gaming industries, will be vital for us as we continue to grow in the region and build our global footprint.”

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