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Esports Championships Amplifies the Excitement of Highly Anticipated European Games in Poland

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The inaugural European Games Esports Championships (#EGE23) will welcome esports athletes and teams from across Europe to compete in two top esports titles – eFootball 2023 and Rocket League, this June.

The esports athletes will compete in parallel with the 7000 athletes representing 48 countries at the third edition of the European Games in Kraków and the Małopolska region of Poland. #EGE23 will add a whole new dimension of competition and entertainment to this grand sporting fiesta.

The Global Esports Federation and the European Olympic Committees confirmed that #EGE23 will run from June 30 to July 2. The International Congress Centre (MCK) in Katowice will become the epicentre of digital competition and is set to be a landmark event in the region’s sporting calendar.

The Open and Women Categories for eFootball 2023 and Open Category for Rocket League at #EGE23 will allow esports athletes from across the continent to compete for national glory.

Commenting on the groundbreaking nature of #EGE23, Aurelia Ruetsch, GEF Board Member and Chair of the EGE23 Coordination Commission, said: “The European Games Esports Championships represents a pioneering moment for esports in Europe. Having been part of the team at the inaugural European Games Baku 2015, I am thrilled to see another first with the EOC as we convene top-level esports competitions alongside traditional sports, celebrating youth culture in the heart of Europe.”

“We are delighted to see esports in this prestigious event – the European Games. The #EGE23 is a significant milestone in the development of esports in Europe. It’s a joyful celebration of youth, esports, and sport all together,” Chris Chan, President of the GEF, said.

In addition to the esports competitions, the #EGE23 will feature the GEFestival – a celebration of esports’ inclusive culture, games, music and entertainment – and GEFcon, a global convention of thought leaders and idea creators in business, esports, sport and technology on an international stage for sharing and learning.

“The Esports Championships is an extraordinary addition to the European Games lineup and underscores the progressive vision of the diversity and inclusivity of the sports world, highlighting the common ground they share in terms of dedication, strategy, and the pursuit of excellence. We are delighted to collaborate with the Global Esports Federation on the first of many planned initiatives,” Spyros Capralos, President of EOC, said.

Hasan Arat, Chair of the EOC Coordination Commission for the European Games 2023, said: “The EOC is delighted to have partnered with the Global Esports Federation to host the Esports Championships in Katowice this summer.

“Esports is hugely popular worldwide, especially among the younger generation, and as the European Games continues to look for ways to innovate and attract a younger audience, this is a significant step.

“The International Congress Center in Katowice will be the perfect venue for the competition, and I know that it will be a memorable occasion for all the esports athletes taking part.”

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Central Europe

Playtech Expands iPoker Network into the Czech Republic in Partnership with Fortuna Entertainment Group

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Playtech announced the expansion of its iPoker network into the Czech Republic, in partnership with Fortuna Entertainment Group (Fortuna), marking the first introduction of Playtech’s iPoker network in the Czech market.

This launch represents a significant milestone for both Playtech and Fortuna, as it introduces poker into the Fortuna Entertainment Group for the first time. Through Playtech’s iPoker network, Fortuna’s players in the Czech Republic will now have access to a diverse range of poker games, benefitting from a strong international liquidity pool of players from all around the world, plus a high-quality player experience and state-of-the-art poker product.

The iPoker network has experienced explosive growth over the past few years, and the addition of Fortuna will contribute to the continuation of this trend. The Czech Republic is a prominent hub for live poker tournaments in Europe, with prestigious events held year-round in cities like Prague and Rozvadov. By joining forces with Fortuna, Playtech aims to tap into the potential of this vibrant market, bringing an unmatched online poker experience to the Czech audience.

Marat Koss, VP of Interactive Gaming at Playtech, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Fortuna to expand our iPoker network into the Czech market. Playtech is committed to providing a high-quality player experience through its cutting-edge poker product and continuous innovation and together with Fortuna’s continued success and significant growth trajectory as the leading betting and gaming operator in Central and Eastern Europe, this partnership will offer a modern, seamless, and engaging user experience for Fortuna’s players.”

Myke Foster, Group Head of Gaming & Commercial Strategy at Fortuna Entertainment Group, said: “Poker has a significant presence in the Czech market with an established player base and we are impressed by the quality of Playtech’s poker product. We see tremendous potential in this product and are confident it will deliver an exceptional and modern user experience to our customer base. We have had a very successful partnership with Playtech over the years and we look forward to watching this partnership continue to grow from strength to strength.”

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Central Europe

BF Games Enters Czech Market with Apollo Games

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BF Games Enters Czech Market with Apollo Games
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BF Games, the dynamic game development studio, has entered a new market through a collaboration with Apollo Games, a major licensed online casino operator in the Czech Republic. The content deal provides Apollo Games customers with the supplier’s most engaging releases, including titles like Stunning Hot Remastered and Cave of Fortune, which are now available.

ApolloGames.cz has been entertaining Czech players since 2021 and is part of the globally known Apollo Game Group, which boasts more than 17 years of experience in online games as well as land-based operations. The commercial partnership is part of the supplier’s plans to expand across Europe and supply thrilling games to operator partners worldwide.

Rok Hribar, Head of Sales and Account Management at BF Games, said, “Our new partnership with Apollo Games is a huge milestone for us as we make a significant entrance into the growing Czech market.
“We look forward to providing some of our most popular games to Apollo Games player base and bringing our creative content to their screens.”

Stanislav Jurecka, Casino Manager at Apollo Games, said, “We are watching the rapid development of BF Games’ offerings and are thrilled to sign this deal with the studio.”
“Adding BF Games’ slots to our online casino is a great win for us and our players, providing fantastic entertainment through a great mix of classic and innovative content. We look forward to introducing further games throughout the year and growing our successful partnership.”

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Central Europe

ZEAL starts with 35 percent revenue growth into the year 2024

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ZEAL Network SE, the leading German online provider of lottery products, has started the new financial year with a strong growth spurt. In the first quarter of 2024, billings from lotteries climbed by 22% to € 246.3 million. Group revenue increased by 35.0% to € 36.1 million (2023: € 26.7 million). EBITDA at Group level increased slightly by 1% to € 9.4 million due to one-off effects and the almost doubling of marketing expenses compared to the previous year.

“We made a very strong start to 2024 and were able to significantly accelerate our revenue growth, particularly in our core business of lottery brokerage. We are also particularly proud of the fact that we were able to achieve EBITDA slightly above the previous year’s level in the past quarter despite almost doubling our marketing expenses and a negative one-off effect from a major win in our charity lottery Deutsche Traumhauslotterie amounting to € 0.8 million. This shows that our measures to acquire new customers are paying off very quickly and that we are generating income across the entire breadth of our customer base,” says Sebastian Bielski, CFO of ZEAL. “With the announced squeeze-out at LOTTO24, we are also putting ZEAL in the best possible position for the future and are leveraging further efficiency potential.”

Revenue in core business grows by 28 percent

ZEAL’s significant revenue growth in the first quarter is primarily due to the strong performance of the lottery business. Billings increased by 22% to € 246.3 million, while revenue from lotteries rose by as much as 28% to € 32.0 million (2023: € 24.9 million). The growth in billings is primarily due to the 21% increase in the average number of active customers per month (MAU). ZEAL was also able to improve the gross margin in the lottery business to 13.0% (2023: 12.4%) thanks to a change in the product mix and further margin optimizations. Excluding the one-off effect from the distribution of a major prize in the company’s charity lottery Deutsche Traumhauslotterie, the gross margin would have been as high as 13.3%.

Games business with significant revenue growth compared to Q4 2023

The games business, which was launched last year, also developed very positively in the first three months of the year. Compared to the fourth quarter of last year, ZEAL was able to increase revenue from games by around 20% from € 1.8 million to € 2.2 million. At 7.0%, the gross margin was stable compared to the previous quarters.

ZEAL was also able to further expand its games portfolio at the end of the quarter. The subsidiary LOTTO24 AG received permission to offer a further 64 games.

Stable result thanks to efficient expansion of future earnings base

ZEAL invested heavily in future growth in the past quarter, acquiring more than twice as many new customers (320 thousand) as in the same period of the previous year (2023: 143 thousand). The company achieved this customer growth much more efficiently than in the same period of the previous year. At € 33.04, the acquisition costs per registered new customer (cost per lead, CPL) were noticeably lower than in the previous year (2023: € 36.77). Due to the company’s strategic decision to use the exceptionally good jackpot situation in January 2024 for efficient new customer growth, marketing expenses of € 13.4 million were 91% higher than in the same period of the previous year (2023: € 7.0 million). As a result, other operating expenses rose to € 21.0 million (2023: € 12.5 million). As a result of the increased number of new customers and the growth of the games business, the direct costs of business operations also rose to € 4.0 million (2023: € 2.7 million).

At € 9.4 million, EBITDA was slightly higher than in the first quarter of the previous year (2023: € 9.3 million). At € 7.5 million, EBIT was 6% higher than in the same period of the previous year (2023: € 7.1 million) due to lower depreciation and amortization recognized in profit or loss. Net income for the period rose to € 21.1 million (2023: € 4.7 million) due to the first-time recognition of expected tax benefits from the utilization of existing tax loss carryforwards in connection with the LOTTO24 squeeze-out.

Due to the good results of the first quarter of 2024, ZEAL confirms the forecast published on March 20, 2024. 

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