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888 Announces Q3 2021 Trading Update

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888, one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming companies, has announced a trading update for the three months ended 30 September 2021 (Q3 2021). The Group’s Q3 2021 performance was in line with the Board’s expectations.

At the end of the Period and following policy changes published by the Dutch Gambling Authority (KSA), the Group took the decision to cease provision of services in the Netherlands from 1 October 2021. The Group continues to believe the Netherlands represents an attractive medium-term opportunity and intends to apply for a local licence in the coming months. Notwithstanding this unforeseen development within the Netherlands, the Board remains confident that the performance of the Group during the current year will be in line with its expectations.

Looking ahead, the timing of any licence award within the Netherlands remains unclear, but the Group aims to be operational within the country during the second half of 2022. This temporary closure is expected to negatively impact 2022 EBITDA, post certain mitigations at Group level, by approximately $10 million, with no change in the Group’s expectations for 2023 and beyond.

Itai Pazner, CEO of 888, said: “Q3 2021 was a period of outstanding strategic progress for 888. During the period we announced the transformational acquisition of William Hill International, successfully launched SI Sportsbook in the US, and began operating 888sport under a new licence in Germany as we continued to execute our plan to build a global online betting and gaming leader.

“Alongside these important strategic milestones, I am pleased with the Group’s continued positive trading, particularly as we lap very tough comparative periods. This performance reflects the continued success of our data-driven investments and execution against our product-leadership plan that delivers ongoing improvements in the usability, quality and safety of our sports betting and gaming products.

“Underpinned by our advanced technology, leading products, and strong brands, as well as the increased scale, talent and diversification that the Group will benefit from as a result of its combination with William Hill International, we have a very exciting platform for long-term growth.”

Business Review

Q3 2021 was a period of significant progress for 888. During the Period, the Group announced the transformational acquisition of William Hill International, which will significantly enhance the enlarged Group’s scale and create leading positions in several key regulated markets. In addition, the Group continued to deliver on its long-term growth strategy in the US market with the successful launch of SI Sportsbook in Colorado, utilising 888’s in-house sports betting platform for the first time in the US.

B2C

Gaming revenue growth of 11% was led by casino, reflecting the continuing success of the Group’s investment in enhancing the user experience through product and content leadership as well as AI-driven personalisation.

During the period, the Group launched more than 150 new casino games including several in-house developed games, which continue to resonate well with customers and provide a differentiated experience. Alongside expanding the range of content, the Group continues to improve the experience for customers using AI-driven recommendation engines and personalised offers, which it believes is leading to increased share of wallet, and therefore market share gains in several key regulated markets such as the UK, Italy, Spain and Romania.

Betting revenue declined 15% against Q3 2020 when the Group delivered a very strong performance that benefited from a condensed calendar of sporting events following Covid-related disruption, particularly within football across the Group’s UK and key European markets. Compared to Q3 2019, betting revenue increased 21%.

B2B

Revenue from 888’s B2B division increased 4% to $9.6 million, with both the bingo and US operational segments delivering moderate growth.

Industry News

GLI Appoints Alberto Ruiz-Ocaña as New Business Development Manager for EMEA

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Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) has appointed Alberto Ruiz-Ocaña as new Business Development Manager for EMEA.

Ruiz-Ocaña has more than 10 years of experience in licensing, compliance, and helping businesses develop and implement successful business strategies. His skills will help enable growth in European and LATAM markets. As Business Development Manager for EMEA, he will be focused on developing opportunities for GLI with new clients across all sectors of the industry including, online, land-based and VLT Lottery.

“Alberto is a great addition to the growing GLI EMEA team, and his experience and contacts, particularly in online gaming, will provide GLI with new opportunities in a rapidly expanding market. His language skills will be beneficial to many of our European clients, which will help us build even more contacts and clients in the EMEA markets,” James Illingworth, Vice President Sales for GLI EMEA, said.

“I am really excited to be joining an industry-leading and respected global company. The EMEA team has already made me feel very welcome, and I look forward to helping them and GLI go from strength to strength,” Alberto said.

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Industry News

Betixon Secures Approval to Launch its Games in Dutch iGaming Market

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Online casino content developer Betixon has secured approval to launch its games in the recently regulated Dutch iGaming market.

Certified by national regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA), Betixon will now be able to provide titles such as Boots of Luck, Wild Wolf, Book of Sheba, Vampire Call, Age of Halvar and Reign of Zeus to licensed operators in the Netherlands.

Betixon said it has already lined up a number of strategic partners in the country and will begin to roll out its content shortly. Talks are ongoing to go live with other operators active in the market.

The developer is also certified to offer games in Great Britain, Lithuania, Estonia, Italy, Colombia and Romania.

Lior Cohen, chief executive officer at Betixon, said: “The Netherlands is one of the most important markets in Europe and we believe that it will grow at a rapid rate in the coming months and years now that a proper regulatory framework is in place.

“Our slots have been designed to deliver an exceptional player experience on mobile and each game is packed with eye-catching graphics and animations that we combine with smart math and mechanics to ensure players are entertained with every spin.

“We will be going live with our first operators shortly and looking forward to partnering with more as we establish Betixon as a leading content provider in the Dutch market.”

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Industry News

New Study: Ten EU Member States Strengthened Consumer Protection Rules for Online Gambling Since 2018, But Significant Fragmentation and Gaps Remain

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A new study has found 10 EU Member States have made progress in strengthening their consumer protection rules for online gambling since 2018, although significant fragmentation and gaps in how these rules are implemented still remain.

The study, published by the City, University of London (CUL), reviewed specific aspects of the consumer protection rules in EU Member States, including know your customer requirements, the protection of minors, safer gambling and treatment support, and assessed whether these rules are becoming similar or not.

The CUL study concludes that while most Member States have adopted similar approaches towards consumer protection, there are significant differences in how national rules are designed or implemented and in some Member States specific consumer protection rules for online gambling are missing. For example, the study found that while 16 Member States have established a national self-exclusion register for online gambling, how gamblers are added to these registers and the duration of their self-exclusion varies significantly, and not all these Member States have rules which prohibit gambling advertising being sent to those who are self-excluded.

The study is an update to a previous study which was published by CUL in 2018. Both studies were commissioned by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) for the purpose of contributing to research knowledge about the safer gambling regulations which exist in the EU and raising awareness about the level of consumer protection offered to EU citizens in respect to online gambling.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, said: “We welcome the progress made in strengthening the consumer protection rules in EU member states. In several areas, regulatory principles are converging, but there is increasing fragmentation in how the rules are implemented and this creates a complicated compliance and enforcement map for Europe’s gambling regulators and operators, while evidently also not benefiting the consumer. A more standardised regulatory framework would surely benefit all. While regulations and enforcement are extremely important, the study also highlights that more could be done to strengthen prevention measures and ensure that those who are affected by harm are signposted to relevant helplines and treatment centres.”

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