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Kindred Group completes the acquisition of Relax Gaming


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Kindred Group completes the acquisition of Relax Gaming
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Kindred Group has on 1 October 2021 completed the previously announced acquisition of the remaining outstanding shares in Relax Gaming, a leading and rapidly growing B2B iGaming supplier.

Kindred Group announced on 2 July 2021 that it had entered into an agreement to acquire the remaining 66.6 per cent of the outstanding shares in Relax Gaming. Relax Gaming is a market leading B2B iGaming software supplier that designs and develops online casino games, supported by an open distribution platform for third party aggregation as well as proprietary poker and bingo products. Relax Gaming was founded in 2010 and has today c. 240 full-time employees with four main hubs in Malta, Estonia, Sweden and Serbia. Kindred has been invested in Relax Gaming since 2013 and was prior to the transaction the largest owner with 33.4 per cent of the outstanding shares.

The acquisition accelerates Kindred’s strategy to increase its focus on product and customer experience by strengthening Kindred’s product control and product differentiation capabilities. The acquisition is expected to generate annual run-rate synergies of EUR 8 million within the next three years for the Group, driven especially by lower investment needs and reduced cost of sales. In order to secure continued integrity of Relax Gaming’s B2B customers, Kindred’s intention is to keep Relax Gaming as an independent entity within the Group with a separate management team and Board of Directors. Patrik Österåker, the co-founder of Relax Gaming, will remain as the Chairman of the Board. Kindred’s ambition is to continue to invest in Relax Gaming to cement its position as a leading B2B iGaming supplier by further strengthening Relax Gaming’s product offering and by broadening their B2B customer base.

In conjunction with the completion of the transaction, all existing employee share option programmes in Relax Gaming have been exercised, and Relax Gaming’s management, who is committed to the future success of the company, retains an ownership of seven per cent of the total fully diluted shares in the company. Kindred’s ownership in Relax Gaming after the transaction is 93 per cent of the total fully diluted shares.

The transaction values the Relax Gaming at up to EUR 320 million on a cash and debt free basis (Enterprise value) and a total value of the outstanding shares of approximately EUR 295 million (Equity value). The initial consideration for the remaining outstanding share of approximately EUR 80 million (on a cash and debt free basis) has been settled in cash. In addition to the initial consideration, the maximum earn-out payments amount to EUR 113 million and may become payable in 2022 and 2023, subject to Relax Gaming achieving certain earnings thresholds.

Industry News

Budget 2023 boosts digitisation and formalisation of gaming sector: AVGC sector experts

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Experts and industry leaders in the AVGC (animation, visual effects, gaming and comic) industry praised the Union Budget 2023-24 as beneficial for the industry. Measures such as the clarification in the applicability of TDS only on the “net winnings”, and that too at the end of the year or during withdrawal, were particularly hailed as significant for the industry.

Bharat Patel, Chairman and Director, Yudiz Solutions Ltd, said, “Considering how fast India’s economy is adapting to modern technologies, the budget surely emphasizes the ‘Amrit Kaal’, mentioned by our Hon’ble Prime Minister. We at Yudiz are particularly thrilled that the government has recognised the potential of the gaming industry, and has taken steps in this budget towards fairer recognition of incomes from gaming. It is a positive move that the government has clarified that taxes will be applicable on net winnings, and not on aggregate winnings. We’re also grateful that Hon’ble Finance Minister FM Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the government will issue more clarity on the taxability of online gaming, and ease the tax burden. Proactive measures such as these can unleash the brimming gaming potential of India.”

Jay Sayta, technology and gaming lawyer, struck a more cautious note and said that while the measures are appreciated, more clarity was awaited on the calculation of net winnings.

“The budget and Finance Bill, 2023 has provided important clarity on applicability of TDS for winnings on online gaming platforms that the industry was seeking. It is a welcome step that the concept of ‘net winnings’ has been recognised in the Income Tax Act for online games and TDS only has to be deducted at the end of the financial year or at the time of withdrawal from the user account,” said Mr. Sayta. “However, the manner in which net winnings are supposed to be calculated and the set-offs that may be permitted before calculating such net winnings are left to be clarified by the CBDT through rules/guidelines. Hopefully, the CBDT will soon provide guidance on the manner in which net winnings have to be calculated.”

The new rules also bring parity between online gaming avenues such as apps and offline gaming avenues such as casinos.

Other measures such as the relief in customs duty for import of critical smartphone parts such as lenses and batteries will help stabilize smartphone prices, and help more Indians access mobile technologies and games. The raising of the minimum taxable slab from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.7 lakh under the new tax regime will also indirectly help the industry, as it increases disposable income available to consumers.

Experts also praised the overall support given to the startups in the form of the proposed National Data Governance Policy which will help start-ups access anonymised data, and providing the benefit of carry forward of losses on change of shareholding of start-ups from seven years of incorporation to ten years.

Suraj Chokani, Founder, Ability Games, said, “It is an excellent budget from every aspect, from our point of view. The FM spoke about 7 major thrusts in the budget, calling it Saptrishi, out of which the 6th pointer spoke about new-age technologies. Recognizing such new age tech in itself is a big boost to the industry as a whole and shows the forward looking character of the Government. Focus on MSME and Startups is also a welcome step from our perspective and will help us go a long way. Overall we are very happy and satisfied with such an inclusive Budget.”

Globally, the AVGC industry was valued at $168 billion in 2021, while the Indian AVGC industry was valued at $1.1 billion, a 28% growth over the previous year, according a report by the AVGC task force. The sector has plenty of room for growth, and the government’s recent decisions such as the proposed self-regulation of the online gaming industry and appointment of MeITY as the nodal Ministry will help boost the sector’s growth.

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Compliance Updates

Pagcor’s efforts POGO-related crimes

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On January 31, 2023, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) learned through a news report that Soleil Chartered Bank issued a statement denying the issuance of a bank certification to Global ComRCI, PAGCOR’s third-party auditor for offshore gaming licensees, whose contract commenced in December 2017.

In relation to this report, PAGCOR would like to reiterate that since the assumption of its new management in August 2022, all contracts – including that of Global ComRCI – were put under review last September 2022.

PAGCOR’s new management is revalidating the veracity of the documents submitted by its third-party auditor, Global ComRCI. Should PAGCOR be able to prove that the documents submitted were spurious, it will immediately take legal action and cancel the contract of its third-party auditor, if found warranted.

PAGCOR would like to thank Senator Sherwin Gatchalian for shedding light on this issue during the senate investigation on January 23, 2023.

The state-run gaming firm reassures the public that it is conscientiously looking into the matter and will take the necessary actions to safeguard public interest. Further, PAGCOR upholds strict adherence of its offshore licensed operators and accredited service providers to whatever laws which may be applicable to them.

 

On offshore gaming-related crimes

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported during the Senate Hearing on January 31, 2023 that there was a rise in the number of recorded crimes related to offshore gaming operations in the country from 2019 to 2022.

PAGCOR denounces these criminal acts and will not sit idly in the face of these injustices.

Hence, to safeguard the integrity of the offshore gaming industry in the country, PAGCOR will continue to monitor the lawfulness of the activities of its accredited licensees and service providers. Should they be found guilty of engaging in criminal acts, the state-run gaming agency will not hesitate to impose sanctions and penalties, as provided by the law.

Further, PAGCOR will continue to strengthen its collaboration with concerned government agencies such as the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to combat all crimes being linked to offshore gaming operations.

PAGCOR would like to underscore that as a result of the inter-agency cooperation meeting held last September 2022 involving abovementioned agencies, there have been no reported criminal activities or kidnapping-related incidents of workers in the offshore gaming industry for over three months.

PAGCOR believes that while gaming operations – including offshore gaming – contribute significantly to government revenues, they must not be used as a vehicle for abuse and injustices. As the country’s gaming regulator, PAGCOR condemns these dreadful acts and will ensure that the local gaming industry will maintain the integrity of its operations.

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Gaming

Fractured Sanity – a heart-wrenching VR survival horror experience coming soon on Steam and Oculus App Lab

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Imagine you wake up in a cell in the Triton Institute, an experimental asylum led by Dr. Matthew Simmons. Lately, the clinic has been surrounded by rumors of abuse and inhumane working conditions and it seems that most of the staff has gone missing. All you know is that Dr. Simmons has been conducting research into the tripartite psyche on how to break someone’s id, ego and superego apart. How far has he gone?

Brazilian studio, United Games, invites you to embark on an intense and fully immersive VR adventure. Fractured Sanity is a single-player game developed exclusively for VR where all mechanics and puzzles are realistic and interactive. In this horror survival game, you will engage in a thrilling story and uncover the dark truth about the clinic and how you got there. 

The release date for Fractured Sanity will be announced soon. It’s a dream come true for the developers at United Games to finally be able to share their game with the world. 

Gabriel Marques, co-developer at United Games commented: “Ever since I was 14 when I first read an RPG Maker magazine, I’ve been dreaming of making games for a living. Now, with our first release, I feel like I’ve taken the first big step towards that goal.” 

United Games co-developer Gustavo Longhi added: “Two years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of developing games, it always seemed so hard and complex to me. Looking back on this process and releasing our first game might be the biggest accomplishment of my life so far.” 

Check Fractured Sanity’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya8EDrp6QPQ

Wishlist Fractured Sanity on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1954840/Fractured_Sanity/
Wishlist Fractured Sanity on Oculus App Lab: https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/5347273738669610/
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