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.
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.
Tailored slots to your needs
RubyPlay’s Art Director, Douglas Hand, discusses the importance of bespoke content to help operators stand out in the crowd and offer unique experiences
Imagine walking into a store, searching for the perfect suit for an upcoming event. You can go the conventional route and pick something off-the-rack in a colour that you like. It’s readily available, functional, affordable and gets the job done. But when you turn up to the event, hundreds of others are wearing a similar suit while your rival stands there silently confident, in a custom-tailored Tom Ford suit that screams “I own this room and everyone in it”.
There’s something about a custom-tailored suit, crafted to your unique measurements and style preferences, that sets you apart in a crowd. There’s a confidence that comes from knowing how to present yourself well.
In the gaming industry this is no different. Typically, we see thousands of new slot games released worldwide each month – that results in a heavily saturated market!
Opting for generic slot games is akin to choosing an off-the-rack suit. It might get the job done, but it often results in a bland experience that blends into the vast sea of similar products. These generic games lack the personal touch; the individuality that makes them memorable. They are chasing the gap, while others are widening it.
As Don Draper said in the hit TV show Mad Men, “Success is related to standing out, not fitting in. One wants to be the needle in the haystack, not the haystack”. In the dynamic world of slot games, being the needle means going beyond the off-the-rack options, embracing creativity, and tailoring each game to leave a lasting impression.
As an experienced Art Director in a fiercely competitive industry, I understand the importance of standing out and making a statement about who you are.
At RubyPlay, we approach slot game development with the same mindset as a tailor crafting a bespoke suit. Rather than settling for a one-size-fits-all approach, our creative team invests time in learning about our clients and their unique brand. This personalised approach allows us to create games that not only meet industry standards but also resonate with the individuality of each client.
We have built robust processes honed through decades of industry experience. This not only accelerates production but also gives our creative team the freedom to explore and experiment with different styles and techniques. This balance is essential in achieving results that not only showcase our skills but also highlight the best aspects of our client’s brand.
Just as a custom, tailored suit speaks volumes about an individual, well-made slot games crafted with attention to detail and personalised touches can make a lasting impact in the gaming industry. At RubyPlay, we believe in the power of tailored experiences that go beyond the generic, and we invite operators for a custom fitting at their earliest convenience.
Solverde.pt Partners with MGA Games and Endorphina
Solverde.pt, the Portuguese bookmaker and online casino, has announced partnerships with two new game creation studios: MGA Games, a Spanish company acknowledged for the creation and distribution of casino games, and Endorphina, recognised for the recent incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in slot machines.
The new partnerships mark a milestone: Solverde.pt is the first online casino in Portugal with 2500 games on a single platform.
Solverde.pt’s partnership with MGA Games, considered the Best Technology Provider at the Asocación JDigital Awards and Gaming, marks the Spanish company’s expansion into the Portuguese market. Among the games released, MGA Games has dedicated itself to integrating Portuguese entertainment personalities in its creations, like the Portuguese football player Paulo Futre, among others.
At the same time, the first batch of 25 Endorphina games is launched that will be available on the Portuguese platform, exclusively, for a month. The Game Developer established in more than 25 countries, with ten years of experience, it was the first casino game producer to create a Slot Machine entirely using AI algorithms. Among the games available, “Glory of Egypt”, “Book of Vlad”, “Dynamite Miner” and “Fisher King” stand out.
These two new partnerships, and consequent game launches, reaffirm Solverde.pt as the online casino with the largest offer of games in Portugal.
“The 2500 games on a single platform are a fundamental step for the company, which reinforces its leadership position in the sector. The collaboration with studios such as MGA Games and Endorphina allows us to lead in Portugal with an offer of innovation and excellence. Notably, MGA Games has a portfolio of 100 titles, created with HTML5 technology, that stand out for their graphical quality, and Edorphina made history by being the first company to develop a game entirely powered by AI, demonstrating its dedication to pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology,” Sérgio Pascoal, Director of R&D at Solverde.pt, said.
“The studio is confident that our slots will impress Solverde.pt players, as well as make them feel the true thrill of the game. We share a passion for entertainment and reflect that by delivering top-notch, high-value content to operators,” Javier Lanfranchi, Sales Director at MGA Games, said.
“By offering the state-of-the-art games of Endorphina, exclusively for Solverde.pt, we aim to provide a unique and exciting gaming experience that reflects both companies’ unwavering pursuit of innovation,” Jonathan Martini, Senior Sales Manager at Endorphina, said.
Ensuring Integrity: The Role of Assurance in the Gambling Industry
By Salvador Garcia-Noblejas, Senior Regulatory Assurance Services at ComplianceOne Group
The gambling industry has its origins in the ancient period, and different types of games are found in almost every culture and civilization.
Over the last few years, we have witnessed an immense transformation, clearly boosted by technological developments. Among these changes, online gambling has grown rapidly, and with this new non-face-to-face reality, regulation and regulators have also embraced new ways to protect players, businesses, and the overall economy. Regulators have the responsibility to set the framework of common rules that define what is right and wrong, the means to protect all parties, and the tools that must be used when anyone does not behave as expected.
Assurance in a world of global risks
It would be inaccurate to assume that regulatory assurance’s only goal is to ensure that operators operate in a fair and transparent manner and meet their legal obligations. On the contrary, assurance also includes helping businesses understand the risks involved in the industry where they operate, analysing their strengths and weaknesses, and setting measures to mitigate those risks.
Assurance’s starting point consists of an interview phase where tailor-made questionnaires serve better understanding the reality to each operator and its actual circumstances. Once the assurance assessment is complete, a detailed action plan assists the operator in fixing any identified gaps, improving policies and procedures, and obtaining the maximum financial gain from refining their processes, products, and operations.
As part of the fast transformation of the gambling industry, with competitive new products, platforms, advertisements, and market expansion, we must not forget that bad actors and illegal practices also develop. This is the moment to ask ourselves if we are ready to face whatever can harm our operations. The most efficient way to know is carrying out a thorough audit of policies, procedures, and processes. This approach will certainly save operators from potential harm to their clients, products, brands, and finances.
Regulators focus on legislation, supervision, and enforcement. All stakeholders must comply with gambling regulations if they want to offer products and services or provide a safe environment to their clients. An important part of the gambling legal system is the fact that the industry is continuously overseen to ensure that all actors adhere to the established rules. At this point, operators need to ask themselves how ready they are to show sufficient evidence that their operations adhere to the law.
Smart operators will choose to comply with as many rules and regulations as their business is capable of, and they will ensure that records are properly kept. Company leadership is essential in ensuring compliance as it contributes to collaboration between departments and having policies and procedures that make the business run within the parameters of the legislation.
In recent years, some highly publicized enforcement actions, including fines and penalties, license suspension, and revocation, have alerted the whole gambling industry. From such cases, there have been increasing efforts in reviewing processes, improving systems, and growing compliance departments.
Experience in the gambling industry has taught us that it is crucial to have a detailed understanding of the regulations that govern the relationship between operators and players. Where knowledge has been insufficient, inaccurate, or out of date, some business decisions have led to unwanted consequences, sometimes catastrophic ones.
Knowledge, a solid compliance culture, strong procedures, and willingness are the formula to be ready for a regulatory audit.
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