Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) has issued a fine of EUR 500,000 against the Curacao-licensed operator Virtual Coin Gaming (VCG) and a separate EUR 100,000 fine against an unnamed employee of the company for creating online games that the authority deemed to be games of chance.
VCG offered games via the websites www.futgalaxy.nl and nl.futgamer.com, which included online betting for football, hockey, and US sports, a FUT jackpot and game packs. Its online games were based on FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), a card game that is part of the EA Sports FIFA video game franchise, in which players earned credits in the FUT video game either by purchasing these credits directly on www.futgalaxy.nl and nl.futgamer.com or by exchanging virtual currency earned in the EA Sports video game FIFA.
These game packs were a simulation of loot boxes found in the FUT-based FIFA video games in which players had the option to purchase six different packs with values ranging from 5000 to 100,000 credits. Highly rated soccer players were randomly added to the packs. Since the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act does not issue licenses for internet gaming, online games of chance are forbidden in the Netherlands.
Since 2018, in response to research that revealed a link between loot box games and gambling addiction, the KSA has focused on loot boxes, particularly in-game packs in FIFA video games.
The KSA pointed out that online games of chance violate the Betting and Gaming Act. According to the KSA, it was clear that this was a case of an unlicensed operator that specifically target Dutch consumers through the use of the Dutch language, the .nl domain extension and the use of the Dutch payment system iDEAL.
The KSA deemed the VCG game packs to be games of chance. Research carried out by the KSA in January 2019, bolstered by announcements on the websites themselves, revealed that participants generally are not able to predominantly influence their chances of receiving prizes from VCG loot boxes. The KSA also referred to a decision of the court The Hague of 15 October 2020 regarding Electronic Arts, which ruled that in-game packs (i.e. loot boxes) inside FIFA video games constituted games of chance.
IGT Earns Gold Medal from Leading Sustainability Rating Agency EcoVadis
International Game Technology PLC announced that it has earned a gold medal sustainability rating from EcoVadis, a leading provider of business sustainability ratings. This gold medal rating positions IGT among the top five percent of global companies assessed by EcoVadis for its comprehensive sustainable business practices. IGT scored particularly well in the areas of environment, ethics and sustainable procurement.
IGT’s sustainability programme was assessed under the EcoVadis criteria using 21 benchmarks within the categories of environment, labour and human rights, ethics and sustainable procurement. EcoVadis methodically evaluates environmental, social and ethical performance using these international sustainability standards for more than 85,000 companies worldwide.
“Receiving a gold medal from EcoVadis validates IGT’s long-time commitment to continuously improving our ESG results and the effectiveness of our Sustainable Play initiatives. IGT will leverage the gold medal honor from EcoVadis as inspiration for enhanced sustainability innovation and performance, as we help contribute to a more sustainable future for our business and stakeholders,” said Wendy Montgomery, IGT SVP Marketing, Communications and Sustainability.
EcoVadis’ business sustainability ratings are based on international sustainability standards such as the Ten Principles of the UN Global Company, the International Labour Organisation conventions, the Global Reporting Initiative standards and the ISO 26000 standard. The ratings provide an evidenced-based analysis on performance and an actional roadmap for continuous improvement.
Kindred Continues Support for Women in Tech Sweden
Kindred has for the eighth time in a row signed up as Co-Creating Partner to Women in Tech Sweden and will take part in the conference on 17 April in Stockholm. Women in Tech Sweden is a non-profit organisation, supported by some of Sweden’s largest and most influential businesses who share the organisation’s mission to inspire more women to choose and stay in tech. This year’s theme Connect, Create, Innovate is truly supported by Kindred’s values.
“The mission of Women in Tech is to inspire women to choose a career in technology – and to keep those already in the industry which is as equal important. Being a part of this event and supporting this mission is very important for us at Kindred Group. There is a reason why we keep on supporting Women in Tech Sweden – the networking, the conversations and the face-to-face meetings are invaluable and something we at Kindred truly enjoy,” said Prachi Arya, Talent Acquisition Tech Development and Women in Tech-general at Kindred Group.
“It is so important that we do this together, that we long-term prioritize building teams with a higher diversity of perspectives. Because we know that it helps us develop better and smarter services and products. That’s why we are so pleased that Kindred is once again with us as a loyal partner on the journey towards a more inclusive industry,” said Åsa Johansen, Director of Women in Tech.
Catena Media Updates its Financial Targets
Catena Media has updated its long-term financial targets for 2024-26 to reflect a change in revenue streams as the group transitions towards a more sustainable revenue model following the completion of the strategic review in November last year.
The group expects a resumption of organic growth in the second half of 2024 and full-year adjusted EBITDA in the range of EUR 20-30 million as the first operational impacts begin to show from an extensive programme of technology- and data-based investments.
The new targets are:
- Double-digit organic growth in both revenue and adjusted EBITDA for 2025 and 2026 at group level.
- Net interest-bearing debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio of 0-1.75.
The shift towards a more sustainable revenue model involves recruiting more players via revenue-share agreements with operators compared to cost-per-acquisition (CPA) contracts and implementing a programme of investments in tech and data innovation that is being rolled out in Q1 and Q2 2024.
These investments, planned as a result of the strategic review, will reinvent the group’s core technological focus by strengthening the organisation with new product offerings that prioritise technology, innovation and immersive user experiences. The primary initiatives include investments in artificial intelligence (AI), paid media, sub affiliation and further strategic media partners to broaden audiences and deliver greater value to partners.
Investments into AI include the establishment of a joint venture with a specialist AI partner to develop a generative AI application dedicated exclusively to content production for online betting and casino gaming affiliation. This initiative launched its first minimum viable product (MVP) in February 2024.
AI innovations and other tech-facing enhancements will enable Catena Media to scale the business, develop new revenue streams and generate synergies while also delivering a more personalised user experience as the group positions to become the data- and technology-driven leader of online affiliate marketing in its target sports betting and casino gaming markets.
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