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Curacao’s Gambling Overhaul: Adjusting the Scheduling for Reform

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Acquiring an online casino license is a challenging task, and there are a lot of protocols and requirements to clear before a gambling license can be issued. In the online casino industry, it is considered that the most accessible jurisdiction and regulator to obtain a license from is Curacao. Due to the low entry barriers, such as low license fees and moderate monitoring of operators, many prospective online casinos’ go-to licensing regulator is Curacao. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Curacao faced various financial struggles, which resulted in the regulator receiving aid from the Dutch Government. Due to the involvement of the Dutch government, Curacao was encouraged to overhaul their gambling licensing requirements and a reform was drafted. Below we provide an overview of the current Curacao gambling regulations and the proposed reform.

Current System in Curacao

Compared to industry standards, the current gambling legislation in Curacao is outdated. Currently, more than 400 online casinos have a Curacao iGaming license, and these casinos have paid a low licensing fee and are not monitored regularly. With the current system, four businesses have ‘master licenses,’ which in simple terms, mean they have the discretion to award iGaming licenses to betting operators on behalf of the government. When you consider all factors of the current system, it is easy to notice that the liberal nature of the current regime has many red flags. The call for a change of the regime was finally answered when the government of Curacao and the Curacao Gaming Control Board decided to follow the advice of the Dutch government and create a new gambling board and introduce updated legislation.

Proposed Reforms

The proposed reforms and changes planned for the online gambling regulation in Curacao are focused on key features which include implementing money laundering measures and licensee employment requirements. The changes drafted by the Curacao government are listed below:

  • Establish a new gambling regulator (Curacao Gaming Authority) to oversee licensing and gaming operations
  • Issuing of B2C licenses and B2B licenses for operators
  • Updated licensing fees for operators; starting at €400 per application, €12000 per annum once approved, and €250 monthly for URL
  • A minimum of three employees from the prospective operator to be hired into key positions in the company and be located on the island of Curacao
  • Enhanced monitoring of operators and anti-money laundering controls

Dutch Government Updates and Quarterly Progress Reports

As per the terms of the proposed agreement between the Dutch government and the Curacao government, quarterly updates were to be released on the progress of the reforms and the timeline for the updated legislative framework. The 2022 Quarter 4 update mentioned that the new bill would be detailed and explained to parliament in February 2023.

Stakeholder Input and Adjusted Schedule

February 2023 was considered a tentative date, as the deadline could be postponed due to ongoing engagement with relevant stakeholders. Earlier this year, the 2023 Quarter 1 update was published, and it emerged that the proposed February 2023 deadline was extended to later this year. No specifics were mentioned as to why the deadline was extended, although the government made mention of the Temporary Work Organization. The Temporary Work Organization, a body of the Dutch government which deals with the prospective reforms of the new bill, stated ‘’is still awaiting an adjusted schedule from the Curacao Ministry of Finance.’’

Official Consultations and Progress

We are still unsure about the latest information on the new bill and the consultations between the relevant stakeholders. The only available information was at the backend of 2022, which mentioned that consultations are ongoing between all parties and that a decision should be reached soon. It stated, ‘’in accordance with an agreement between the minister of finance of Curacao and the minister of legal protection of the Netherlands, official consultations will take place in January about the progress of the [gaming bill].’’

Potential Implications and Future Outlook

Due to the ongoing consultations regarding the new gaming bill, the implications of the bill are expected to be a game changer for all stakeholders in Curacao, including existing license holders. Current license holders will be expected to reapply for an iGaming license within 18 months (about 1 and a half years) of the new bill being passed, should they want to stay in the industry and continue working with Curacao.

When a new gaming bill is passed and the new legislation implemented, the future of online gambling in Curacao will evolve, and the standard will be similar to other regulators in the industry. The expected benefits of the new bill will provide players with more security and allow Curacao Gaming Authority to closely monitor betting operators. The threat of money laundering and other fraudulent activities in the industry will also be controlled and managed. All in all, stakeholders from within Curacao and those watching from afar are patiently waiting for the new and improved Curacao gaming regulator to enter the iGaming industry.

Comparison with New Zealand Gambling Regulations

New Zealand players should keep a close eye on the developments in Curacao, as most of the online casinos available to New Zealand players are licensed by the Curacao regulator. The gambling regulations in New Zealand prohibit local companies from operating online casinos within the country. Therefore, options available to New Zealand players include opening casino accounts and playing games at offshore casinos. There are some similarities between the reforms in Curacao and the gambling landscape in New Zealand, with the important one focusing on player safety and controlling the possibility of fraudulent activity by betting operators. The notable difference is the legality of local companies opening online casinos, which is legal in Curacao but prohibited in New Zealand.

It is pleasing to note the developments and the ongoing process of the gambling overhaul in Curacao. For too long, online casinos have tried to bypass strict regulators and instead try and obtain an iGaming license from the adequately regulated Curacao regulator. The prospective gambling bill and the new legislative framework will change the way you can play at online casinos in New Zealand. They will allow better monitoring of operators and end fraudulent activities. The new gaming bill also has implications for New Zealand players based on the current gambling laws in New Zealand. Due to the prohibition of locally owned online casinos, New Zealand players will most likely use online casinos that Curacao licenses. Thankfully, with the updated Curacao gambling bill, all New Zealand players will be protected when playing at these online casinos.

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Golden Matrix Acquisition of MeridianBet Group Receives High Praise from IPO Edge

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Esteemed financial analysts at IPO Edge recognize the merged Golden Matrix and MeridianBet Group entity as a burgeoning global gaming leader with a promising financial outlook and innovation

Golden Matrix Group Incorporated (NASDAQ:GMGI) (Golden Matrix) and MeridianBet Group, the newly-consolidated entity in the online gaming world, are honored to receive positive analysis from IPO Edge, a leading portal known for its insightful and credible financial analyses.

The distinguished coverage highlighted the Golden Matrix acquisition of MeridianBet Group as having a significant potential to reshape the gaming landscape, focusing on the combined entity’s strategic positioning for expansive growth and technological innovation.

The entire analysis can be found at: https:/ /IPO-Edge. com/strike-gold-with-gmgi-and-meridianbets-global-gaming-powerhouse/

IPO Edge Insights

The recent article by IPO Edge analysts casts a spotlight on the strategic merits of the $300 million acquisition of MeridianBet Group by Golden Matrix. According to the portal, this bold move is poised to establish a global gaming juggernaut with projected sales reaching $182 million by 2025. The merger not only signifies a monumental leap in market expansion, spanning over 15 markets including Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia but also underscores the entity’s prowess in emerging markets such as Mexico, Tanzania and Peru.

A Story of Strategic Growth and Innovation

At the heart of the Golden Matrix acquisition of MeridianBet Group lies a shared commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction as the combined group owns a scalable tech platform that leverages machine learning for continuous improvement, alongside unique betting features like Empty Bet, which empowers players to craft their own bets. This synergy of technological advancement and market intelligence sets the stage for an unprecedented growth trajectory in the online gaming sector.

Financial Prudence and Future Prospects

Underscoring the merger’s financial strategy, IPO Edge commends the conservative financing approach, with an anticipated 2x leverage post-merger. This prudent fiscal management, coupled with the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Brian Goodman, enhances the company’s capacity for further strategic mergers and acquisitions.

The CSR Segment

The merger’s dedication to corporate social responsibility, with initiatives aimed at converting players into patrons of meaningful CSR programs, distinguishes it beyond financials and market expansion. This commitment reflects a broader vision of achieving profitability while fostering a positive social impact.

The Market Potential Not Yet Anticipated

As pointed out by this analysis, the market may not fully recognize Golden Matrix’s potential yet. The company’s enterprise value is close to $400 million. That compares with multiples of eight times for Caesar’s Entertainment and a whopping 22 times for DraftKings, according to Sentieo, an AI-enabled research platform.

For more information about the Golden Matrix, please visit https:/ /GoldenMatrix. com/company/ or https:/ /ir.MeridianBet. com/.

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Real Dealer Studios: Offering a fresh spin on classic roulette

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Real Dealer Studios: Offering a fresh spin on classic roulette
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Shane Cotter at Real Dealer Studios walks us through the groundbreaking new release, Volcano Roulette, and discusses whether classic table games need a makeover for today’s online audience.

Roulette is probably the most timeless casino game out there. Here’s what happened when we gave it a couple more balls. And a volcano.

The game we’re now launching is Volcano Roulette, and it’s fair to say that it’s a huge departure from what the industry is used to. The first thing players will see is the sleek, steampunk environment and a roulette wheel with that smoking volcano right in the middle. The game’s visuals, compared with typical RNG games, are several steps ahead thanks to the Cinematic RNG technology that Real Dealer invented. Essentially, this means the game was built on video that was produced the same way Hollywood films are made.

As cool as this game looks, it’s really the mechanics that set it apart. In every round, once the spin starts, one or two glowing lava balls can randomly shoot out of the volcano to become part of the action. These extra balls increase the chance of hitting a straight-up bet. If the player does land any straight-up bet, a special sequence starts where the numbers on the wheel shift, steampunk style, into multipliers. Then another lava ball erupts out to pick the multiplier for the straight-up bet win. These multipliers can be as much as 333x and apply to all straight up bets that land in the round. That means the player could win up to 999x their bet.

An eruption of innovation

What sparked this game’s theme is once again related to Cinematic RNG. We’ve got this amazing technology that gives us a huge amount of flexibility. It lets us make hyper-realistic looking games with any kind of action and put them in any setting we choose.

So one of our designers got the idea to have a roulette wheel where the numbers could drop down, shift, flip over and pop back up with different numbers, all of which would happen in an old-fashioned, mechanical looking way.

We were also having ongoing discussions about how to revamp the process of releasing the ball onto the table. And after a few sessions at the drawing board, we had the great idea of including a volcano.

Between the steaming volcano and the mechanical action of the changing numbers, the steampunk theme basically chose itself. Our 3D designers then set to work creating all the mechanical lightbulbs, cogs turning and all these different dials that give the game its character.

A degree of familiarity

Volcano Roulette is obviously a huge departure from what long-time players are used to. The challenge with revamping a classic is ensuring that when you innovate, you retain those elements of the game that the players love. That’s a balance that I believe Real Dealer Studios has managed to achieve.

That brings us to the question of whether online roulette needs a makeover. And the answer is both yes and no. As you can imagine, different players are after different experiences from the games that they play. Some prefer the classics while others want something completely new.

When this table game first moved into the digital space, it started off as a computer animation. It later improved, but still has that animated RNG feel. Later live games came in and have gained their own following. But for existing table game players used to that classic bricks-and-mortar casino feel or just looking for something higher quality, there was nothing out there.

Seeing this, we developed cinematic RNG to deliver a much better online experience, with enhanced audio-visual quality and heightened gameplay compared to other table games you find online. I wouldn’t call this a makeover – it’s getting back to what this game is all about and doing a better job of it in the online environment.

Of course, there are other players who are expecting new twists to the game. The key to catering to these different demands from players is to have an extensive portfolio that spans multiple themes and includes a range of features. Some might be done in classic style and include a dealer, others might be automatic and have multipliers.

Attracting new audiences

Where a full-fledged makeover becomes useful is when you’re trying to cross-sell table games to the larger pools of players coming from sportsbook and slots. The challenge here, however, is that each of these two demographics requires a completely unique approach.

To reach sports bettors, for example, we have created games that tie into real-world sporting events. Just last year, we had Hockey Fever Roulette which was launched for the Ice Hockey World Championship in May. The game was set in a man cave loaded with fan memorabilia and had rock music playing in the background. It was everything you would want in a hockey-themed game.

That was then followed by Rugby Fever Roulette, which was launched ahead of the Rugby World Cup. We wanted to make this game more personalised for each player, so we built a feature where players could choose between dealers and switch the visuals and thematics to match their favourite team.

Obviously, attracting new audiences was a major focus for these two games. But creating sports-themed titles also provided our operator partners with an opportunity to work our games into their event promotions. So, it had marketing benefits too.

Engaging with slots players is a completely different ballgame, however. Traditionally, there isn’t much cross-over between slots and table games. We therefore had to find a common ground between the two verticals. This is where slots-type features like multipliers, collect features and unique designs came into play. Cinematic RNG has really helped us here, letting us create some fantastic mechanics and immersive designs catering to the slots crowd.

Recently we took an even bolder step into the slots realm by partnering with the producers of an enormously popular slots title, 9 Masks of Fire. Our roulette version of the legendary game became an instant hit.

As 2024 progresses, we have plenty more titles in the pipeline which we are confident will offer a new spin on the classics and continue to drive engagement with players. Stay tuned!

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Industry News

Cheltenham and Grand National 2025 start now

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Cheltenham and Grand National 2025 start now
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The madness of Cheltenham and Grand National has been and gone. Congratulations on surviving; you’ve made it through and live to fight another day. So, what’s top of the agenda for today? Preparation for the 2025 edition’s of the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, of course!

Here are the six key planning and strategy points to consider in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success next spring.

The work begins now

Yes, Cheltenham 2025 is a long time away. But everything is fresh in your mind as of this moment. Many of the changes you may end up acting on could take a long time to execute, and there’s undoubtedly going to be countless foreseen and unforeseen priorities between now and the end of the year. Start now whilst 2024 performance is fresh in your mind and fresh within the wider business psyche. Keep the festival mindset running for as long as possible to maintain momentum and get flying out the stalls.

Involve all parts of the business

This is not just an exercise for the IT department. Every relevant stakeholder from around the business should be represented. What were customers saying to Customer Services? How did Trading cope when their bet tickers slowed down? What offers and promotions did Marketing take note of that they would like to offer next time? Bring in stakeholders from all business arms to create a holistic view of where the opportunities lie and what challenges need to be overcome.

Look at the data

Get hold of all of your performance metrics from every component of your systems and take the time to do a deep-dive analysis on those numbers. If you haven’t got all the metrics that you’d like to have to hand? Well, there’s your starting point for the list of ‘things to fix immediately’.

Be honest with yourselves

Getting business involvement, analysing all the data, and prompt planning is all well and good. But if you’re not going to be brutally honest with yourselves as an organisation, it may be all for nothing. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge everyone’s hard work and remember all the things that you did right. But you also have to be your own harshest critics about what didn’t go so well and what could be improved on. There’s really no point in doing all this if you’re not going to seriously challenge yourselves to do better.

Next year won’t be the same as this year

You’re going to be delivering a various new features and functionalities, as well as making many changes to your internal systems over the next twelve months. So the technical landscape that 2025’s Cheltenham Festival and Grand National inhabited will be very different to the one just gone. How will that fancy new bet builder widget in development hold up under the unique stresses of Grand National day? What will your new AI recommendations engine do when everyone’s betting on just one event? You don’t need to answer these questions right now, and it’s highly likely that you won’t be able to answer all of these questions now. But you need to bake in consideration of Cheltenham and Grand National to your non-functional requirements for every change you make in the coming months.

Get a high-level plan diarised

You need to start now but you can’t finish now. This is something you’re going to need to come back to periodically until those Cheltenham gates open. It’s a simple but powerful scheduling task: put the key staging posts in relevant team’s diaries now. You don’t want wake up in a cold sweat one morning in January realising that you’re two months out from the Greatest Show on Turf and haven’t made notable progress on the fixes required from this year’s festivals.

 

By: Graham Cassell, Partner at Circle Squared

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