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Nicklas Zajdel Joins Sport Buff as Partner and Investor


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Sport Buff has secured Nicklas Zajdel, the highly-experienced leader in gaming and online-betting, as both Partner and Investor.

The significant appointment for the award-winning gamification and on-screen engagement business, follows Buff’s successful delivery with global broadcasters at Qatar 2022 and announcement of $2.5million of seed funding in August 2022.

Nicklas Zajdel has over 15 years of experience in online betting and gaming, with extensive leadership experience across a wide range of territories including roles as Group Chief Operating Officer for Fortuna Entertainment Group, Managing Director (Digital) at Ladbrokes, Group Omni-Channel Director for Ladbrokes Coral group and VP Business Operations at Playtech Turnkey Services.

Nicklas Zajdel said: “I’m thrilled to join Sport Buff as a partner and an investor. I share their vision of being the global leaders in engagement and activation, for digital broadcast and live streaming – and that belief is backed with my own investment.

“Buff has an innovative product, inspiring founders, a skilled and passionate team and exceptional potential whilst the benefits to broadcasters, sports and viewers are proven. Their real-time fan engagement experience is genuinely innovative, hugely enhancing engagement and monetisation opportunities for content partners.

“Starting straight away, I look forward to working closely with founders Benn and Jonty, the Board of Buff and the whole team, adding my experience from the betting and gaming sector and contributing to product evolution, revenue generation and operational excellence.”

Jonty Whitehead, Founder and President of Sport Buff, said: “We’ve known Nick for a number of years and it’s exciting that we’ll now be working with him inside Buff, as a Partner in our leadership team and as an investor, helping to drive the next stage of our growth.

“He’s taken a keen, long-term interest in the development of our products, followed our journey and clearly likes what he’s seen. We also love what he can bring to this rapidly growing business.

“Buff’s expertise across broadcast and digital engagement is well-known and Nick will add further to our commercial and operational capabilities through his extensive experience in building partnerships, understanding of data, ability to create valuable transactions and knowledge of fuelling both B2B and B2C relationships.”

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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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Gaming Innovation Group confirms Switzerland market entry

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Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has completed its deal with an established land-based and digital casino operator in Switzerland for the provision of its award-winning player account management platform (PAM), following a Head of Terms agreement announced on 10 January, 2023.

The deal carries extra significance as confirmation of GiG’s first entry into the burgeoning Swiss igaming marketplace. GiG’s arrival extends its growing footprint within Europe, as part of a wider commitment to localised specialisation in complex regulated markets, worldwide,

GiG’s innovative and proprietary Platform is well positioned to complement the rapid growth aspirations of operators in Switzerland, with the local market anticipated to increase almost €100m this year, to over €440m GGR by 2024, according to information supplied by H2 Gambling Data.

The full agreement has been signed for an initial period of five years with the opportunity to be further renewed, and is projected to go-live in Q1 2024.

Richard Brown, CEO of GiG said: “Given the expanding scope of opportunity for operators in the region, we’re delighted to be entering the Swiss market in partnership with an established land-based brand. Our considerable experience at delivering robust and innovative solutions to retail organisations in highly complex regulated business, continues to help our reputation as a provider of choice.”

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NOVOMATIC to Launch New Products at ICE 2023

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NOVOMATIC is going to launch new products at this year’s edition of Europe’s major gaming event from February 7-9 at ExCeL London.

Prominently positioned in the South hall, the show’s biggest exhibitor will showcase an inspiring display of cutting-edge gaming solutions for the diverse industry segments and markets on an all-new exhibition stand, and the savvy ICE visitor will instantly recognise: NOVOMATIC is back in black.

Land-based casino and AWP products & systems, biometric technologies for modern access solutions, secure cash handling solutions, sports betting and iGaming solutions – there is hardly an operator requirement for which the vastly diversified NOVOMATIC portfolio does not have a perfectly fitting answer in store, or can tailor a custom solution.

At the centre of attention, the slogan “BLACK IS BACK” heralds the international launch of a highly versatile slot cabinet series: the successor of NOVOMATIC’s hugely popular “Black Edition” cabinet with a series of three exciting new slot machines. All three models of the BLACK EDITION II series deliver leading-edge cabinet design, perfectly angled screens and a razor-sharp game presentation against the backdrop of a Black Metro finish and a contrasting LED ambient lighting concept. The multi-screen cabinet versions BLACK EDITION II 3.27 and BLACK EDITION II XL 3.32 are equipped with two full HD LCD screens in 27” and 32” diameters respectively and an equally dimensioned topper, which is optional for the XL cabinet version. The bottom screens feature PCAP-touch for maximum player interaction and the smoothly integrated toppers are slightly angled in characteristic Black Edition-style – all of which creates a striking presence on the floor, especially in XL and with the optional topper onboard. The sister model BLACK EDITION II 1.49J perfectly complements the cabinet series and offers a state-of-the-art presentation of NOVOMATIC’s wide range of upright games with its elegant 49″ J-curve screen. Additional features that enhance player convenience are the ergonomic footrest and padded palm-rest the powerful sound system and the overall maximum-impact game presentation powered by game play, graphics and audio.

Additional cabinet news comprise the massive new video slot slant top MASTER SL in versions 2.32 and 3.32 as well as two further slant top cabinets for the ETG segment. The DIAMOND X will showcase modern, state-of-the-art Progressive content presentation with the exclusive XTENSION LINK Volume 1 in the upright cabinet 1.55J and the brand new GOLDEN LINK Progressive mixes in the multi-screen version 2.32.

A central content highlight and showcase theme are the Candelas de los Muertos games with Señorita Suerte and Señor Muerte, both presented in banks of brand new BLACK EDITION II 1.49J machines, as well as with a dedicated photo booth and game characters roaming the booth. Both titles are also part of the brand new Linked Progressive mix NOVO LINE CASH CONNECTION Edition 4, which will be premiering at ICE with a superb selection of 20 LOCK ’N’ WIN titles. Further new mixes comprise a MONEY PARTY mix, an ULTRA BOOST LINK multi-game, NOVO LINE Interactive Edition X4 and Impera-Line HD Edition 9 as well as Series 2 of the top-selling IMPERA LINK.

NOVOMATIC ETGs will be represented with two new slant top terminals as well as a sneak preview to further product news waiting to be launched as 2023 moves on – and a complete LOTUS ROULETTE Genius installation.

At the centre of the stand, NBS will present the powerful features and functionalities of the NOVOVISION casino management system. This modular system offers a highly effective toolset for efficient casino management with extensive possibilities for automation, detailed analysis and sophisticated performance optimisation, taking into account all responsibilities and requirements of modern casino operations in terms of player protection, responsible gaming and reporting obligations.

In the different dedicated areas of the exhibition stand, experts from various subsidiaries as well as technology partners will also present their market-specific portfolio: NOVOMATIC Gaming UK, NOVOMATIC Netherlands and NOVOMATIC Gaming Spain with their show display of market-specific AWP products; Ainsworth and Apex with their latest cabinets and games; Fazi with a full range of ETG solutions; NOVO Cash with moneychangers made in Germany, AdmiralBET systems as well as SSBTs and the ever-growing Digital Gaming and Entertainment Division Greentube with trend-setting iGaming content and solutions.

Thomas Schmalzer, Vice President Global Sales NOVOMATIC AG, said: “As the traditional NOVOMATIC performance show, the ICE is an experience we look forward to every year. Especially for this year, we have an exceptionally extensive range of new products and attractive highlights – and such a comprehensive portfolio that the NOVOMATIC stand is really a one-stop shop.”

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