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Russian Central Bank Clamps Down on Gambling Payments

Niji Narayan

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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.

Industry News

Aspire Global Reviews Role of B2C Segment Within Group Structure

Niji Narayan

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Aspire Global Reviews Role of B2C Segment Within Group Structure
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Leading iGaming provider Aspire Global has announced a review of its B2C segment. The segment reported record-high revenues in Q4 2020 and comprises the well-known European online casino brand Karamba alongside other local proprietary brands.

The review will assist the Company to focus on its growing B2B ambitions and its market-leading technology, while also accelerating the B2C’s revenue growth and reinforcing the record high revenues it achieved in Q4 2020.

The announcement follows Aspire Global’s Q4 and FY 2020 results on 18 February 2021, with the company reporting record-high revenues of €161.9 million for 2020 and the Group’s EBITDA amounted to a record €27.1 million.

“We are very pleased with the growth and results recently recorded by the business’ B2C segment, but we think a review will assist us to better assess our options to further accelerate our growth. Such a move could help improve Aspire Global’s overall margins and EBITDA and potentially help us accelerate new B2B initiatives and enter fresh markets. Overall, we are well positioned to capitalise on the array of opportunities available to us in the global, fast-growth iGaming industry,” Tsachi Maimon, CEO of Aspire Global, said.

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Industry News

Esports Entertainment Group Completes Acquisition of Lucky Dino

Niji Narayan

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Esports Entertainment Group Completes Acquisition of Lucky Dino
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Esports Entertainment Group has announced that its Malta gaming licensed subsidiary, Esport Entertainment (Malta) Limited, has completed its acquisition of the business assets of Lucky Dino Gaming Limited (Lucky Dino).

The ~$30 million deal was financed through cash raised in an equity offering in February.

“Over the past five years, Lucky Dino has evolved from a single brand white-label casino operator into a multi-brand, class-leading casino operator and technology business. In addition to further strengthening our tech stack, Lucky Dino’s assets will give us a substantial foothold in multiple new jurisdictions across Europe, particularly in Scandinavia where esports are extremely popular, and with Lucky Dino’s 25K monthly active casino players we will have tremendous cross-selling opportunities with our SportNation and VIE.bet betting platforms,” Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group, said.

“Lucky Dino has generated an impressive track record of growth, reporting an 86% CAGR on revenue for the five years ended June 30, 2020. With opportunities to realize synergies across shared back-office functions, payment processing and more, we are in a great position to build upon Lucky Dino’s notable EBITDA performance. Ultimately, we will look to bring this exciting online casino platform to the U.S. in the future alongside our VIE.bet esports offering,” Johnson added.

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Latest News

English Casino and Bingo Operators Optimistic About Reopening

Niji Narayan

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English Casino and Bingo Operators Optimistic About Reopening
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The Casino and bingo hall operators in the UK are optimistic about their reopening following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of planned dates for the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.

Under the government roadmap to exit lockdown, betting shops in England will reopen on April 12 and gambling centres, bingo halls and casinos on May 17.

Miles Baron, chief executive of the Bingo Association, said in an interview with Rank Group: “The land-based bingo industry is delighted to have a firm date to reopen.

“Thousands of bingo customers have been contacting us via social media to tell us how much they miss social contact and how safe they feel in a bingo club.

“Industry data tells us that 90 per cent of our customers visit bingo with either family and friends, so I have no doubt that on 17 May we will see our customers flooding back to bingo clubs to play their favourite game once again.”

Simon Thomas, CEO of Hippodrome Casino, is also optimistic about the results after reopening.

He said: “The government has spoken! So it’s with cautious optimism that I can announce that we will reopen on Monday, May 17.

“You can imagine how delighted we all are, and in the next few weeks we’ll be finishing off the work we’ve undertaken while we’ve been closed. There’s a brand new casino floor in the gods high up on the fifth floor, a new poker deck with many more tables, and other improvements to make us bigger, better and busier.”

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