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Casinos Austria Appoints New Members to the Supervisory Board

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Casinos Austria Appoints New Members to the Supervisory Board
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NEW MEMBERS WERE APPOINTED TO THE SUPERVISORY BOARD AT CASINOS AUSTRIA AG ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND SUPERVISORY BOARD MEETING.

  • Reorganisation of the Supervisory Board: Wolfgang Hesoun is the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board – additional experts have been appointed
  • Syndicate contract brings stability to the corporate group
  • Player protection is to be a focus of the Supervisory Board
  • Implementation of extensive restructuring programme
  • Strengthening of distribution and online offers – fight against illegality

Reorganisation of the Supervisory Board

New members were appointed to the Supervisory Board at Casinos Austria AG Annual General Meeting and Supervisory Board Meeting.

At Casinos Austria AG, Wolfgang Hesoun, a top Austrian manager, took the helm as the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board. His currently sole Vice Chairman is SAZKA Group CEO Robert Chvatal, who has chaired the Board since Walter Rothensteiner’s departure.

ÖBAG Director and former PwC CEO Christine Catasta and compliance and player protection expert Erika Stark-Rittenauer were appointed to the Supervisory Board. Gerhild Hofer and Thomas Polzer are leaving the committee.

“I am delighted that we were able to secure an experienced top manager as President of the Supervisory Board, and that person is Wolfgang Hesoun. Our current personnel decisions show that after a challenging period, we are embarking on a new chapter for the company, one in which the Managing Board, the employees, the Supervisory Board and the owners work together to create a positive future for the company,” says ÖBAG Managing Board member Thomas Schmid.

Syndicate contract brings stability to the company

The basis for the changes in membership of the Boards is the syndicate contract between the SAZKA Group (majority owner) and the state-owned holding company ÖBAG. This contract was recently approved by the EU Competition Commission. “The syndicate contract between the two main owners amicably regulates the strategic development and alignment of the corporate group. Our shared vision and long-term strategy provide the stability that the company needs. This is particularly important in the current difficult situation as well as with regard to the challenges facing the corporate group in the near future. In particular, the two main owners will make a substantial contribution to strengthening distribution and building up new online services, as well as driving forward the urgently needed fight against illegality,” SAZKA CEO Robert Chvatal says about the new cooperation between the owners.

Player protection is to be a focus of the Supervisory Board

Player protection and handling gambling responsibly has always been a central issue within the Casinos Austria/Österreichische Lotterien Group. In future, the Supervisory Board will provide tangible support for the company’s efforts in this crucial area. “Casinos and lotteries bear great social responsibility in the gaming sector. As a core shareholder, it is of particular interest to ÖBAG that our shareholdings continue to expand their pioneering role in the area of player protection in Europe. With Erika Stark-Rittenauer, we on the Supervisory Board can provide valuable input in this regard,” Schmid says with respect to the future focus.

Implementation of the restructuring programme

The report on the ReFIT restructuring programme was discussed at length in today’s meetings. Following intensive negotiations, a comprehensive package was put together in a very short time, and most of it has already been implemented. These far-reaching measures will save 50 million euros in the long run and reduce the number of employees by around 500 FTEs across the entire Group. The fact that almost the entire personnel reduction could be carried out in the form of amicable separations and accompanied by corresponding social plans, new collective agreements and company agreements was noted as a positive aspect. This was possible because an amount in the high double-digit millions was spent on the design of these separation packages. Far-reaching internal restructuring has made processes much more efficient and made it possible to focus on new entrepreneurial tasks. This has created a basis for the long-term security of the corporate group.

Central Europe

Playtech Expands iPoker Network into the Czech Republic in Partnership with Fortuna Entertainment Group

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Playtech announced the expansion of its iPoker network into the Czech Republic, in partnership with Fortuna Entertainment Group (Fortuna), marking the first introduction of Playtech’s iPoker network in the Czech market.

This launch represents a significant milestone for both Playtech and Fortuna, as it introduces poker into the Fortuna Entertainment Group for the first time. Through Playtech’s iPoker network, Fortuna’s players in the Czech Republic will now have access to a diverse range of poker games, benefitting from a strong international liquidity pool of players from all around the world, plus a high-quality player experience and state-of-the-art poker product.

The iPoker network has experienced explosive growth over the past few years, and the addition of Fortuna will contribute to the continuation of this trend. The Czech Republic is a prominent hub for live poker tournaments in Europe, with prestigious events held year-round in cities like Prague and Rozvadov. By joining forces with Fortuna, Playtech aims to tap into the potential of this vibrant market, bringing an unmatched online poker experience to the Czech audience.

Marat Koss, VP of Interactive Gaming at Playtech, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Fortuna to expand our iPoker network into the Czech market. Playtech is committed to providing a high-quality player experience through its cutting-edge poker product and continuous innovation and together with Fortuna’s continued success and significant growth trajectory as the leading betting and gaming operator in Central and Eastern Europe, this partnership will offer a modern, seamless, and engaging user experience for Fortuna’s players.”

Myke Foster, Group Head of Gaming & Commercial Strategy at Fortuna Entertainment Group, said: “Poker has a significant presence in the Czech market with an established player base and we are impressed by the quality of Playtech’s poker product. We see tremendous potential in this product and are confident it will deliver an exceptional and modern user experience to our customer base. We have had a very successful partnership with Playtech over the years and we look forward to watching this partnership continue to grow from strength to strength.”

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Central Europe

BF Games Enters Czech Market with Apollo Games

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BF Games Enters Czech Market with Apollo Games
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BF Games, the dynamic game development studio, has entered a new market through a collaboration with Apollo Games, a major licensed online casino operator in the Czech Republic. The content deal provides Apollo Games customers with the supplier’s most engaging releases, including titles like Stunning Hot Remastered and Cave of Fortune, which are now available.

ApolloGames.cz has been entertaining Czech players since 2021 and is part of the globally known Apollo Game Group, which boasts more than 17 years of experience in online games as well as land-based operations. The commercial partnership is part of the supplier’s plans to expand across Europe and supply thrilling games to operator partners worldwide.

Rok Hribar, Head of Sales and Account Management at BF Games, said, “Our new partnership with Apollo Games is a huge milestone for us as we make a significant entrance into the growing Czech market.
“We look forward to providing some of our most popular games to Apollo Games player base and bringing our creative content to their screens.”

Stanislav Jurecka, Casino Manager at Apollo Games, said, “We are watching the rapid development of BF Games’ offerings and are thrilled to sign this deal with the studio.”
“Adding BF Games’ slots to our online casino is a great win for us and our players, providing fantastic entertainment through a great mix of classic and innovative content. We look forward to introducing further games throughout the year and growing our successful partnership.”

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Central Europe

ZEAL starts with 35 percent revenue growth into the year 2024

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ZEAL Network SE, the leading German online provider of lottery products, has started the new financial year with a strong growth spurt. In the first quarter of 2024, billings from lotteries climbed by 22% to € 246.3 million. Group revenue increased by 35.0% to € 36.1 million (2023: € 26.7 million). EBITDA at Group level increased slightly by 1% to € 9.4 million due to one-off effects and the almost doubling of marketing expenses compared to the previous year.

“We made a very strong start to 2024 and were able to significantly accelerate our revenue growth, particularly in our core business of lottery brokerage. We are also particularly proud of the fact that we were able to achieve EBITDA slightly above the previous year’s level in the past quarter despite almost doubling our marketing expenses and a negative one-off effect from a major win in our charity lottery Deutsche Traumhauslotterie amounting to € 0.8 million. This shows that our measures to acquire new customers are paying off very quickly and that we are generating income across the entire breadth of our customer base,” says Sebastian Bielski, CFO of ZEAL. “With the announced squeeze-out at LOTTO24, we are also putting ZEAL in the best possible position for the future and are leveraging further efficiency potential.”

Revenue in core business grows by 28 percent

ZEAL’s significant revenue growth in the first quarter is primarily due to the strong performance of the lottery business. Billings increased by 22% to € 246.3 million, while revenue from lotteries rose by as much as 28% to € 32.0 million (2023: € 24.9 million). The growth in billings is primarily due to the 21% increase in the average number of active customers per month (MAU). ZEAL was also able to improve the gross margin in the lottery business to 13.0% (2023: 12.4%) thanks to a change in the product mix and further margin optimizations. Excluding the one-off effect from the distribution of a major prize in the company’s charity lottery Deutsche Traumhauslotterie, the gross margin would have been as high as 13.3%.

Games business with significant revenue growth compared to Q4 2023

The games business, which was launched last year, also developed very positively in the first three months of the year. Compared to the fourth quarter of last year, ZEAL was able to increase revenue from games by around 20% from € 1.8 million to € 2.2 million. At 7.0%, the gross margin was stable compared to the previous quarters.

ZEAL was also able to further expand its games portfolio at the end of the quarter. The subsidiary LOTTO24 AG received permission to offer a further 64 games.

Stable result thanks to efficient expansion of future earnings base

ZEAL invested heavily in future growth in the past quarter, acquiring more than twice as many new customers (320 thousand) as in the same period of the previous year (2023: 143 thousand). The company achieved this customer growth much more efficiently than in the same period of the previous year. At € 33.04, the acquisition costs per registered new customer (cost per lead, CPL) were noticeably lower than in the previous year (2023: € 36.77). Due to the company’s strategic decision to use the exceptionally good jackpot situation in January 2024 for efficient new customer growth, marketing expenses of € 13.4 million were 91% higher than in the same period of the previous year (2023: € 7.0 million). As a result, other operating expenses rose to € 21.0 million (2023: € 12.5 million). As a result of the increased number of new customers and the growth of the games business, the direct costs of business operations also rose to € 4.0 million (2023: € 2.7 million).

At € 9.4 million, EBITDA was slightly higher than in the first quarter of the previous year (2023: € 9.3 million). At € 7.5 million, EBIT was 6% higher than in the same period of the previous year (2023: € 7.1 million) due to lower depreciation and amortization recognized in profit or loss. Net income for the period rose to € 21.1 million (2023: € 4.7 million) due to the first-time recognition of expected tax benefits from the utilization of existing tax loss carryforwards in connection with the LOTTO24 squeeze-out.

Due to the good results of the first quarter of 2024, ZEAL confirms the forecast published on March 20, 2024. 

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