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UK Gambling Commission announces package of changes which make online games safer by design

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UK Gambling Commission announces package of changes which make online games safer by design
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The Gambling Commission has announced a package of strict measures which will strengthen the protections and controls for those who gamble through online slots games – including the introduction of limits on spin speeds, and the permanent ban on features that speed up play or celebrate losses as wins.

Following a consultation with the public and players, the gambling industry and other stakeholders, operators will need to implement tough new player protection measures which will make online casino games less intensive, safer by design and hand players more control over their gambling.

The Commission has focused on online slots because of its features which increase the intensity of play and the corresponding risks to players. Slot games have by far the highest average losses per player of online gambling products1.

The new rules include the outright ban of four key features of online slots games:

Features that speed up play or give the illusion of control over the outcome
Slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds
Auto-play – which can lead to players losing track of their play, and;
Sounds or imagery which give the illusion of a win when the return is in fact equal to, or below, a stake
Other changes include:

Operators must clearly display to the player their total losses or wins and time played during any online slots session.
Alongside the changes for online slots the Commission has also introduced a permanent ban on reverse withdrawals for all online gambling – this function previously allowed consumers to re-gamble money they had previously requested to withdraw.
The enhanced protections that have been announced today will need to be fully implemented by online operators by 31 October 2021.

Since the publication of the Commission’s consultation in July 2020, further research has shown that using an auto-play feature has been linked to some players losing track of play, making it difficult for some to stop playing and in some cases gambling on other activities simultaneously.

Evidence shows that reverse withdrawal functions present a risk to players because of the temptation to continue gambling. In addition, the slot features being removed or more closely controlled have been associated with increased intensity of play, loss of player control, or binge play.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “To make online games safer we are introducing a ban on features that speed up play, or give the illusion of control over the outcome. We are also introducing a ban on auto-play, losses disguised as wins, and slot spin speeds faster than 2.5 seconds. The evidence shows that these features increase the risk of harm to customers.

“This is another important step in making gambling safer and where the evidence shows that there are other opportunities to do that we are determined to take them.”

Minister for Sports, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston said: “Today’s steps will help curb the intensity of online gambling, introducing greater protections that will reduce the risk of gambling related harm.

“I welcome the Gambling Commission’s tough measures as we continue our comprehensive review of gambling laws to make sure they’re fit for the digital age.”

The new rules are part of the Commission’s comprehensive programme to make gambling fairer and safer which has also seen the introduction of strengthened protections around online age and ID verification, improved customer interaction practices, and the banning of gambling on credit cards.

The announcement of the further consumer protection rules for online games and the design of those games follow the Commission’s announcement on 30 September that it was implementing new rules to stamp out irresponsible ‘VIP customer’ practices. Those rules came into force on 31 October 2020. A consultation on customer interaction was also launched last in November with the outcome expected later this year.

Readers can access the Commission’s online games design and reverse withdrawals response for more details.

1 Our Covid data shows the average spend per slots player is £67 per month, compared with £36 for casino products and £45 for real event betting.

Industry News

NeoGames makes bid to acquire Aspire Global for SEK 111 per share

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NeoGames makes bid to acquire Aspire Global for SEK 111 per share
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NeoGames, the global leader of iLottery solutions and services, has made a bid to acquire Aspire Global, the leading supplier of gaming solutions, for SEK 111 per share.

On 17 January 2022, a public tender offer was made by NeoGames S.A to the shareholders of Aspire Global to tender all their shares in the Company to NeoGames for a consideration consisting of a combination of cash and newly issued shares in NeoGames . Aspire Global’s main shareholders, who in aggregate own shares corresponding to 66.96% of all shares and votes in Aspire Global, have entered into irrevocable undertakings that enable the other shareholders in Aspire Global to tender their shares to NeoGames and receive 100 percent cash consideration corresponding to SEK 111.00 per share tendered in Aspire Global representing a premium of 41% compared to today’s closing price of SEK 78.5 for Aspire Global’s share.

This value of the company is between 500-600 million US Dollars.

For the shareholders who elect to receive 100 percent of the consideration in cash, the Last Twelve Month (LTM) EBITDA multiple) would be 16.8x which compares very favorably to the comparable multiples in the space.

For those shareholders electing to take the mix of equity and cash on a 50:50 basis, the EV/EBITDA multiple will be 13.6x due to the proposed share price ratio which, whilst a lower multiple, also compares well to industry comparables. The latter option will be subject to change based on the movement of NeoGames share price pre closing of the Offer.

The synergies between the companies expend more the control in the value chain of gaming and lottery and will allow the group to become a true online leader in regulated markets.

NeoGames will gain access to Aspire Global proprietary products and world leader in the managed services offering, also to big volumes in regulated markets such as Europe, Latin America and Africa.

Aspire Global will be able to accelerate its US entry plans through the existing presence of NeoGames.

Aspire Global will continue to act independently and as an iGaming division in the whole group.

All the employees are expected to continue as usual in both Aspire Global group and NeoGames.

Tsachi Maimon will remain as the CEO of Aspire Global group and will be appointed to be the president of the NeoGames group.

Tsachi Maimon, CEO Aspire Global:

“Aspire Global is a high quality, leading supplier with a one stop shop in the regulated gaming industry. Following the acquisition of Btobet, Pariplay, the recent investment in bingo and the divestment of the B2C division and now this potential merger with NeoGames, we will create a leading global supplier for the entirety of the iGaming and iLottery space overnight. I strongly believe that the two companies are well matched with a solid cultural connection forged over many years of working together which will facilitate meaningful revenue synergies. The deal will allow us to leverage NeoGames’ presence in the U.S. to grow even further in this market whilst continuing to roll out new products and support the growth of our regulated clients in Europe, Latin America, Africa and North America. Setting aside the value creation from a financial perspective, both NeoGames and Aspire Global will be able to offer a state-of-the-art enhanced gaming solution as well as supporting growth for existing and new clients. This is an exciting new chapter for my management and employees as we look to lead the space with high quality and innovative products”

Moti Malul, CEO NeoGames:
“This is a highly strategic and transformational transaction for NeoGames that represents perhaps one of the more important milestones for us as a company. We believe that the combination of our two very successful companies will create a leading global provider across all forms of online lottery, sports betting and gaming that would have significant global active presence in many key markets. As a pure-play iLottery provider, we have experienced first-hand the strong convergence and expansion trend of lotteries in many countries globally into online gaming verticals and we believe that with this transaction we will become an even better strategic partner to our existing and future customers. We are excited to also be able to become a leading global provider to regulated gaming operators through the vast experience and product set that Aspire Global brings to our combined entity, together with profound operational experience which is a crucial success factor. The strong ties and cultural fit between the companies, where significant parts of our management teams have worked together and cooperated along the years, provides a great platform for future collaboration and success”

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Livespins joins forces with Fantasma Games

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Livespins joins forces with Fantasma Games
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Studio’s chart-topping slots now part of social streaming bet-behind platform

Livespins, the provider of socially charged online casino experiences, has signed an agreement with Fantasma Games that will see the exciting game studio integrate its suite of slots into Livespins’ ground-breaking live streaming platform.

The partnership will see Livespins’ growing army of hugely entertaining streamers play some of Fantasma’s most popular titles while enabling players to join the ride and bet behind the streamer.

Livespins is keen to work with innovative and cutting-edge studios to offer the best game titles to its streamers as well as players. Fantasma certainly fits the bill with its suite of slots that have been designed to offer player experiences that go beyond gambling.

This includes slots such as Flower Fortune Megaways that allows players to climb through levels built into the game, unlocking additional bonus features as they do. Then you have Heroes Hunt and Heroes Hunt 2 where players unlock different characters as they progress through the game’s storyline.

Livespins integrates directly with an online casino and its proprietary streaming platform allows multiple players to view their favourite streamer and bet behind their play, effectively creating a group bet and shared betting experience on the same spin.

Each player is free to choose the bet amount and the number of spins they prefer. Adding another level of user engagement is the ability to chat with the streamer and other players and add reactions as the streamer spins the reels and the anticipation and excitement builds.

Michael Pedersen, CCO at Livespins, said: “Livespins is here to socially charge online casinos and offer an entirely new category of player experience by combining a well-known bet format – bet behind – with the uniquely immersive and highly entertaining world of streaming.

“At the heart of an engaging streaming session is a slot that provides the thrills and spills that both the streamer and the viewer can get excited about and in Fantasma Games we have a studio that knows how to deliver on both counts.

“This is the first in a series of integrations that we will be rolling out over the coming weeks and months as we continue to ramp up the Livespins product and proposition.”

Fredrik Johansson, Founder at Fantasma Games, said: “As a studio, we have always aimed to be at the cutting edge and to design and develop slots that go beyond gambling to deliver never seen before player experiences. Livespins is working with a similar ethos, and we are thrilled to be their first studio partner.

“This partnership will allow us to leverage the power and influence of streamers and put our slots in front of a new and growing community of casino streaming consumers and online slot players.”

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7Mojos Live casino and slot games joins Salsa Gator

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7Mojos Live casino and slot games joins Salsa Gator
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Salsa Technology has launched 7Mojos’ catalogue of stunning live dealer and slot games onto its Salsa Gator, Salsa’s aggregator platform.

Online casino games provider 7Mojos specialises in creating next-gen entertainment content certified by GLI and holds licences from MGA, the Bulgaria State of Commission and other jurisdictions.

As part of the content deal, the Salsa Gator platform welcomes a number of Live Dealer games including Andar Bahar, Blackjack, Baccarat, Teen Patti and Roulette.

Salsa’s market-leading Salsa Gator provides a rich and diverse selection of engaging casino content. All the titles can be seamlessly accessed with a single integration and are proven to deliver excellent results throughout Latin America.

Salsa Technology’s CEO, Peter Nolte said:”7Mojos is a business we’ve long admired and I’m thrilled to welcome its wide selection of live games to our Salsa Gator. These titles will further enhance our offering and help us kick off 2022 in style.”

Stefan Enchev 7Mojos CCO followed:”Adding our standout live casino and slot games suite to the Salsa Gator platform will greatly enhance our reach and ensure our games are enjoyed by a wider audience in Latam. Working with Salsa is a wonderful opportunity and one that will yield great results.”

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