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Aspire Global Publishes Interim Report for Q1 2021

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Aspire Global Publishes Interim Report for Q1 2021
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Aspire Global has posted a 42.6% year-on-year increase in revenue in Q1 2021. The Malta-headquartered firm saw revenue increase from €33.7m in Q1 2020 to €48.1m in Q1 2021, with the acquired BtoBet business helping to drive growth by adding €2.4m in Q1 revenue.

Comments from CEO Tsachi Maimon:

Aspire Global reports yet another record quarter with strong growth of 42.6% and robust profitability well above our financial target. This consistent performance demonstrates Aspire Global’s ability to execute its growth strategy and create value. All segments reported strong development in the quarter, and the Group made significant progress, especially in the US and the UK with new deals and the receipt of new licenses.

Revenues increased by 42.6% to €48.1 million with organic growth of 35.6%. Growth was particularly strong in the UK and Ireland in both the casino and sports verticals. The solid growth in the quarter is particularly impressive, given that the first quarter is historically the weakest of the year.

EBITDA increased by 64.2% to €8.6 million with an EBITDA margin of 17.8%, well above our financial target of 16%. This improved profitability is driven by the revenue growth across all segments as well as strict cost control. It is also satisfying to see that both BtoBet and Pariplay, acquired in 2020 and 2019 respectively, contribute significantly to Aspire Global’s profitability.

STRENGTHENED PRESENCE IN THE US

Establishing a strong footprint and building our brands in the fast-growing US market are key objectives for us this year, and we have already made significant progress on this front. In January, Pariplay, the leading game studio and game aggregator, was granted an Interim iGaming Supplier License for the state of West Virginia. Shortly after, Pariplay’s games went live in New Jersey with Rush Street Interactive, a market leader in online casino and sports betting in the US.

In April we took yet another key step in the US by signing a striking deal with the platform provider GAN. The partnership will see Pariplay expand its footprint through GAN’s platform, which is available to operators in three states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. By partnering with GAN, a well-established supplier with leading operator partners, we will get Pariplay’s games in front of a significant audience across numerous states.

The US iGaming market is growing at an impressive rate with more states currently considering legalising online gaming. Our objective is to be at forefront of these developments. Aspire Global has already filed applications for accessibility in Pennsylvania and Michigan, with the objective to file in all accessible states.

SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN THE UK

The Sports market represents an important growth area for us. Until the acquisition of BtoBet, a leading sportsbook provider, sports constituted a minor part of Aspire Global’s revenues, representing only 7.6% of revenues in Q1 2020. One year later, sports now represents 15.2% of revenues.

BtoBet has established a strong position in Latin America and Africa. In the quarter, BtoBet further expanded its global footprint by being awarded certification in the UK. The UK is the biggest European iGaming market, and this license marks an important strategic step in expanding our Sports vertical to new markets. Just a few days after obtaining the license, BtoBet announced a strategic partnership with the UK-based operator Small Screen Casinos, covering the UK, Ireland and Ghana. The agreement underlines BtoBet’s ability to configure its technology to meet the needs of any operator.

Pariplay also strengthened its position in the UK in the quarter by going live with Betfred, the largest independent betting brand in the UK.

BTOBET SPORTSBOOK NOW INTEGRATED

The acquisition of BtoBet and its proprietary sportsbook has created an offering that covers the main elements of the B2B iGaming value chain and gives Aspire Global control of the IP in the full value chain. We have recently accomplished the integration of BtoBet’s sportsbook to Aspire Core’s cutting-edge technology platform. This, in combination with Pariplay’s leading game offering, provides Aspire Global with crucial competitive advantages. Aspire Global is a powerhouse for iGaming operators and is ready to compete for any deal, anywhere, at any time.

In addition to the huge growth opportunities we see by entering new regulated markets and gaining new customers, there are substantial opportunities to expand our business with existing partners. We have just kicked off the first sports related projects where partner brands will improve their offering by replacing their existing sports solution with the BtoBet sportsbook. This shift of partner brands to the BtoBet proprietary platform will positively impact our revenues and margins throughout 2021.

We are proud to add Grupo Televisa, the biggest media house in Mexico, as a partner via our local operator/partner. Grupo Televisa, which has a market cap of over USD 7 billion, migrated recently to our gaming platform and sports solution from its previous provider. We also support Grupo Televisa with new casino tabs and our knowledge about the region.

CORE PLATFORM ENHANCEMENTS

A key strategic area for Aspire Global is the continuous improvement of our offering and enhancements of our core technology platform. The recently launched Aspire Engage – the most advanced CRM tool in the market – along with additional payments methods and KYC processes – have been very well received in the market. The strong development for our Pay N Play solution, launched in December 2020, has also continued in this quarter. These new features and improvements are important contributions to Aspire Global’s robust performance.

STRONG B2C PERFORMANCE

The B2C segment continued its strong growth from Q4 2020. As announced in March 2021, we have initiated a review of the role of the B2C segment within the Group structure. We are pleased with the growth recorded by the B2C segment, but we think a review will assist us to better assess our options to further accelerate growth. Such a move could help improve Aspire Global’s overall margins and EBITDA and potentially support us in accelerating new B2B initiatives and enter fresh markets. The review is still ongoing and we will provide more information about the outcome in a timely manner.

OUTLOOK

Aspire Global consistently demonstrates its ability to execute its growth strategy and create value. In addition to continuous improvement of the offering, geographic expansion and good organic growth, we are of course especially happy with the outcome of our M&A activities. Pariplay has doubled its revenues since Q1 2020 and reports an EBITDA margin of almost 30%. BtoBet has also developed favourably since the acquisition with revenue growth of 51.0% compared to Q1 2020 and reports similar EBITDA margins to Pariplay.

We see tremendous growth opportunities for Aspire Global. With our complete iGaming offering, we will target both new customers and broaden our presence with existing partners. We have proven our ability to gain tier 1 operators as customers with names such as Rush Street Interactive (RSI), Betfair, William Hill and 888casino. The strategy to grow in regulated markets is proven efficient, and we will continue to license our offering in more regulated markets and enter new markets.

We remain confident in our ability to deliver on our 2021 financial targets and are truly excited by Aspire Global’s future prospects.

Industry News

Scout Gaming Publishes Q3 2021 Results

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Scout Gaming has published its results for the third quarter of 2021 (Q3 2021).

Extract from CEO Andreas Ternstrom’s commentary to the Interim Report.

“During the quarter, we have worked intensively to launch our tier 1 clients. An example is Norsk Tipping, which now has launched Fantasy Sports games for real money. After the end of the quarter, we launched Fantasy e-sports with Razer and we will launch with ATG before year-end. These tier 1 clients will generate growth during 2022 and beyond. Launching tier 1 customers is the most important cornerstone of our strategy.

“The operator index was unchanged compared with the previous year, which is primarily due to a very strong development during the third quarter of 2020 when the Group benefited from the condensed calendar of sporting events after Covid-related disruptions – there have not been as many fantasy-related, playable events in the third quarter. Compared with the third quarter of 2019, the index increased by 168 percent.

“Revenues were negatively affected in relation to last year for the reasons mentioned above. As a result, however, we had lower marketing costs during the quarter, which in turn resulted in an improved EBITDA compared to the previous year. This in turn shows the flexibility of our underlying business and that the work of optimizing our marketing costs is functioning.”

Highlights

Quarter July – September 2021

  • Revenues were mSEK 12.2 (15.0), a decrease with 19% compared to corresponding year.
  • EBITDA improved to mSEK -6.3 (-11.6).
  • Net result was mSEK -11.9 (-13.4)
  • Earnings per share amounted to SEK -0.6 (-0.7)
  • Operator trading index (which illustrates the underlying client activity) was 2,410 (2,421).
  • Scout Gaming conducted a directed share issue of approximately 2 million shares on a subscription price of 27 SEK, amounting to mSEK 54.
  • Subscribers were Ellerston Capital Limited, Topline Capital Partners LP, Lupus alpha Investment GmbH, Scobie Ward (SWIM Capital), Knutsson Holdings AB and Provobis Holding AB.
  • Scout Gaming has launched its fantasy software in a “social gaming” version.
  • Regarding the above platform, Scout Gaming has signed 3 agreements in the US market, Masters Cup Series, a billiard tour in the US, Skylands Events and University Sports & Entertainment regarding the baseball league “Frontier League” and “eFangage” with Backal Hospitality Group, where the product will be used as a gaming platform for the relationship between sport bars / restaurants and their visitors.

Interim period January – September 2021

  • Revenues amounted to mSEK 39.5 (30.0)
  • EBITDA amounted to mSEK -34.6 (-33.4)
  • Net result amounted to mSEK -38.1 (-40.7)
  • Earnings per share amounted to SEK -1.7 (-2.3)
  • Events after the period ended
  • Scout Gaming has launched Betano (part of Kaizen Gaming) in Brazil.
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Industry News

European Casino Association Awards Four EDP 2021 Diversity Scholarships

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The European Casino Association (ECA) has announced the successful candidates for this year’s ECA Diversity Scholarship, sponsored by AGEM, Clarion, the University of Las Vegas International Gaming Institute and the ECA.

The Diversity Scholarship is open to all ECA member employees and in its fourth year since inception is to award more candidates than ever before to participate in the renowned Executive Development Programme (EDP).

The EDP is a prestigious gaming leadership course, a partnership between the UNLV International Gaming Institute and the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business and Extended Studies. The scholarship covers the full cost of the programme, which this year, as last, is to be staged online due to ongoing travel and Covid-19 restrictions.

Over three decades, the EDP has become a reference point for gaming executives seeking to take their careers to the next level, whose aim is to build leadership and management skills and develop strategic thinking. It is a unique occasion to learn and share best practices with peers from around the world. The jury from the sponsoring organisations has examined the applications and awarded four ambitious male and female colleagues from the European land-based casino industry aspiring to a leadership position and hoping to broadening their professional education.

“The ECA scholarship programme recognises the contribution individuals have made within their daily roles that embody the inclusive nature of our profession. The ECA has awarded four candidates working in Monaco, Slovakia, Sweden and Slovenia to take part in the programme to promote the individual growth of the gaming professionals who, through their actions, have supported and enhanced diversity and inclusion within the industry,” ECA Chairman Per Jaldung said.

The ECA’s Diversity Scholarships for 2021 have been awarded to the following candidates:

  • Joanna Petit – American Games Supervisor, Casino de Monte-Carlo, Monaco. “Being a young female manager has not been easy in a masculine world. I found my place and I have been able to unite my team through enthusiasm, professionalism, listening and communication.”
  • Shalini Kolling – Human Resources Manager, Casino Cosmopol, Sweden. “I believe that the EDP needs more applicants like me who come from minority categories, and possess the foundation quality, that is a genuine hunger to ensure that the individuals and their organisation succeed.”
  • Jan Pecha – Casino General Manager, Olympic Casino, Slovakia. “I am very positive regarding diversity. Under my leadership, everyone has equal rights. I believe the EDP will be a very valuable experience.”
  • Darko Devic – Table Games Manager, Casino Mond, Slovenia. “I was pleasantly surprised that male members of our team can apply for the scholarship. In my opinion, it is crucial to be aware of inequality in the workplace in order to prevent it.”

“The partnership formed with Clarion, the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) and the University of Las Vegas has created an opportunity for the ECA to reward four industry colleagues for their outstanding contribution to diversity and inclusion with the gaming sector. Each of this year’s recipients personify the values of this award, having a passion for the industry and an understanding and empathy for the diverse make-up of both front and back-of-house in the European casino business. The EDP is a perfect reward for such dedication to further their personal and professional growth,” ECA Secretary Hermann Pamminger said.

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Industry News

Paddy Power Ends Partnership with Ireland’s RTÉ

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Paddy Power has confirmed that it has concluded its partnership with the Irish public national news service RTÉ.

RTÉ has to respect the new advertising rules which were brought in ahead of gambling regulation in Ireland and because of that Paddy Power has decided to end its sponsorship of live televised football.

The new guidelines introduced by the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) bans whistle-to-whistle advertising starting with 1 January 2022.

Whistle-to-whistle covers the duration of a live broadcast event, from five minutes prior to the start of a sporting occasion to five minutes after the event ends, including breaks of play and half-time adverts, as well as pitch-side LED and other forms of marketing.

The company says it examined the use of its “Take a Break – Safer Gambling” advertising, but for now it is unclear if this type of marketing represents a breach of the IBA’s code that will come into force in 2022.

RTÉ did not comment on the matter and only stated it did not wish to speak on commercial issues.

However, confirming that Paddy Power has ended its partnership with RTÉ, the brand said: “Paddy Power doesn’t just support the incoming whistle-to-whistle ban as a company, we have already taken a market-leading position on this intervention.

“We took the decision to voluntarily implement a pre-watershed whistle-to-whistle ban on advertising ahead of Euro 2020, which applied to any adverts run on RTÉ in the interim.

“We also moved to use all existing slots available to us pre- and post-match to exclusively promote our ‘Take A Break – Safer Gambling’ tool during Ireland’s final four matches in the Men’s Fifa World Cup Qualifiers.”

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