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Russian Central Bank Clamps Down on Gambling Payments

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Russian Central Bank Clamps Down on Gambling Payments
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Online casinos and illegal bookmakers are feeling the squeeze after the Russian central bank has made it very difficult for punters to get paid.

Indeed, many operations have seen their activities in Russia paralysed since mid-January after gamblers have largely lost the ability to place bets in any currencies other than Bitcoin.

Russian business publication The Bell reports that this is the culmination of actions taken by Russia’s central bank targeting payment systems to illegal online casinos and bookies.

In December and January, there was a flurry of reports that several major payment systems such as Qiwi and Yoo.Money (formerly Yandex.Money) had been temporarily banned from carrying out transactions with foreign countries.

It later transpired that these moves are likely linked to the central bank’s efforts to crack down on payments to illegal gaming operators. A total of ten banks and payment operators are believed to have faced sanctions. Small banks such as Fintekh and Onego have even had their business licenses pulled.

A reporter with The Bell tested the situation by trying to place bets at the largest illegal online casinos, such as Admiral777, JoyCasino, and Gaminator. It turned out that all of them now accept payments only in Bitcoin, and not with major Russian bank cards (Tinkoff, Sberbank) or online payment systems like Yandex.Money.

There is, however, one alternative for long-standing and wealthy punters. Two sources familiar with the industry told The Bell that online casinos are now visiting such players in person in large cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg and taking cash directly.

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Swintt makes a splash with new Aqua Lord slot

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Swintt, the seafaring software provider behind splash hits Aloha Spirit XtraLock, The Crown and Candy Gold is back for an all-new underwater adventure in its latest feature-packed slot release, Aqua Lord.

The latest game to be added to Swintt’s line-up of Premium titles, Aqua Lord features five reels, five fixed paylines and all the trappings that players will already know and love from its classic slot collection. Action takes place to a backdrop of the ocean floor, while unique symbols including dolphins, ornate vases and jewelled gauntlets line-up alongside the more familiar playing card values.

The mighty Aqua Lord himself features as the game’s highest-value symbol – awarding a jaw-dropping maximum payout of 5,000x players’ bet – but other special symbols to look out for include the numbered pearl icons and the now-instantly-familiar “Book” scatters, both of which activate features.

First up, landing three or more pearl symbols anywhere on the reels will automatically trigger the slot’s Pearl Feature. This popular bonus round has already appeared in a number of Swintt Premium games and will instantly transport players to a new set of reels, where further pearls replace all other icons.

At the start of the feature, players will be granted an initial three free re-spins, but whenever a pearl lands, it will lock in place as the counter is reset. This process will continue until either no new pearl symbols appear or all 15 reel spaces have been filled, at which point the numerical values on all pearls will be totted up and players will be awarded an instant prize before being returned to the base game.
The next feature is Aqua Lord is the “Book” Free Spins round – and again it will be a familiar one to anyone who’s already played Swintt Premium slots. Activated whenever three or more “Book” scatter symbols appear, players will receive 10 Free Spins as a special mystery symbol is selected at random.

Should this symbol appear during the Free Spins, it will expand to fill its reel, creating additional winning pay lines and boosting the game’s hit rate to a healthy 19.5%. Naturally, if a higher value symbol is selected to expand, the potential for big wins increases dramatically; with full table wins now an increasing likelihood as players swim away with potentially bankroll-boosting feature payouts.
As with the majority of games in the Swintt Premium collection, Aqua Lord also features an optional Risk game which can be activated at the end of any winning base game spin. Should players choose to take part in this rewarding mini-game, they’ll be given the opportunity to boost the value of their current win by guessing the colour or suit of a hidden playing card, with multiple risk rounds available.

David Mann, Chief Executive Officer at Swintt, said: “Swintt is certainly no stranger to the treasures that lie beneath the waves – and in our latest Premium release, Aqua Lord, we’re giving players the chance to take the plunge and swim away with maximum wins of up to 5,000x their selected stake.
“Designed with the same pick-up-and-play appeal as other games in our Premium collection, the new slot boasts two of the studio’s most iconic bonus rounds in “Book” Free Spins and the popular Pearl Feature, meaning there are plenty of ways for players to make a big splash from their base game spins.”

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Q&A with Jennifer Riley, Customer Services Director at 2mee

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Q: Are affiliates making the most of their website real estate when it comes to promoting operator brands and driving engagement/conversions?

A: I think it has become obvious that the majority of affiliate listing pages have become very busy and cluttered, with hundreds of brands and clashing banners pushing various promotions and offers. Brands listed on these pages are locked in a constant battle to stand out from the crowd, and this is why the affiliates need to do something to help partner sportsbook and casino brands drive greater engagement and achieve higher conversions

The digital advertising space has been dominated by banner ads and more lately aminated rich media graphics, but the problem here is that everybody is using the same medium to try and grab player attention. There are some levels of differentiation in terms of size, placement and the holy grail that is the website page takeover, but on the whole, I think the CTRs they deliver reflect the battle to break through the noise for advertisers – a battle most are currently losing.

Q: What are some of the challenges they face when it comes to maximising this real estate? Can you share an example?

A: Affiliates have limited website page real estate on which to list their partner brands and squeeze in banner ads and graphics. The majority of this space must be given to editorial content, especially for affiliates that are genuine media outlets. Many also have commercial agreements already in place for where certain brands are listed on pages, so it becomes increasingly difficult to open up additional advertising real estate. This is certainly the case when users are accessing websites from mobile, where the reduced screen size sees banner ads disrupt the UX and make them almost impossible to read.

Q: How can affiliates overcome these challenges? What products are available that they can use to make the most of the promotional space they have on their sites?

A: It is actually a very difficult challenge for affiliates and publishers to overcome without totally redesigning their websites. This is something 2mee is looking to address with the launch of our HoloAd product, which lets publishers allow their operator partners to deploy hologram messages anywhere on their website pages without impacting the user experience or replacing the existing listings or banner ads they have in place.

Q: How does your HoloAd product work?

A: HoloAd is a simple tool that delivers engagement that is 5x higher than banner ads or text. Affiliates can use our platform to allow operators to deploy their brand ambassadors and influencers as hologram messages directly on their sites to promote offers of the day, tips, sign-up specials, etc. Based on our powerful, market-leading HoloMessage solution, with HoloAd operators can be sure their holograms will grab the attention of players, driving conversions and revenues for them as well as their affiliate partners.

Q: What makes holograms so effective for affiliates? Can you share any performance stats?

A: There is nothing more powerful in marketing the generating a human connection between brand/product and the consumer. Holograms do just that, allowing affiliates to offer their operator partners a new channel through which to be heard above the noise being made by their rival brands. Our affiliate customers are achieving incredible CTRs of between 28% and 36% and when you consider that on average banner ads tend to deliver CTRs in the low single figures, you can see why affiliates and their operator partners are keen to use our HoloAd solution.

Q: Do holograms and your HoloAd product spell the end for banner ads?

A: Not at all – HoloAd is deployed in such a way that there is also space for existing banner ads and boxes. Of course, affiliates can offer HoloAs as the premium centre of focus that every operator will wish to secure once they see the CTR stats and conversions they achieve. There will never be more than one HoloAd on any page at any one time and that allows affiliates to charge a premium price for the space.

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APPARAT GAMING’S PLENTY PUMPKINS SLOT PROMISES A SPOOKY HALLOWEEN

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APPARAT GAMING’S PLENTY PUMPKINS SLOT PROMISES A SPOOKY HALLOWEEN
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German studios’ new slot will engage, entertain, and bombard you with rotten fruit

New from Apparat Gaming this Halloween comes Plenty Pumpkins, a diabolical twist on the classic fruit game. The reels of this 5×4-reel, 40 payline slot are packed with fruit, but not the kind you’d want to eat. Instead, cracked watermelons, stitched lemons, rotten oranges, and putrid plums make up the game – not to mention plenty of pumpkins carved with demonic Halloween faces.

Fortunately, it’s also packed with Wilds and stacked symbols that can trigger a devilishly good bonus feature.  Land four stacked symbols on the leftmost reel to trigger the bonus game. Here, you’ll be awarded three spins during which the triggering symbol and all Wilds will be stuck in their positions until the end of the feature, allowing the player to collect as many of these symbols as possible for a big win at the end.

Berlin-based Apparat Gaming has been whipping up a storm in the European gaming space with a series of eye-catching releases that offer “iGaming with a German accent”. These include compelling titles like The Warlock’s Book, King of the Vikings and Pharaoh Princess: Daughter of the Nile.

Since the release of Pharaoh Princess in April, the rising star games studio has been hitting its impressive schedule of releasing at least one new game per month. Its latest offering promises some thrills, and just a few chills, as we celebrate Halloween.

Martin Frindt, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Apparat Gaming said: “The spooky Halloween slot is becoming genre in itself, and Plenty Pumpkins is our take on that. This game has the simplicity of the iconic fruit slot but with some extra special magic sauce in the form of stacked Wilds and a thrilling bonus round. We hope players will have as much fun playing it as we did building it!”

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