Ontario, Entain, Crown Resorts & BGC: the week in numbers

Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today, we take a look at a potential lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in England, accelerated gaming investment by Entain, SGA reprimands, and an Ontario government introduction.

2005

The Betting and Gaming Council called on the government to establish a gambling ombudsman, asserting that the group, alongside its members, recognise “the need for further change in our industry”.

The industry standards body said that the move represents “further proof” of the determination to drive up standards, and comes amid the ongoing continuation of the review of the Gambling Act 2005.

Systems for dealing with customer complaints already exist, but the BGC believes that a gambling ombudsman would improve the process and make it more consistent for those raising concerns.

The group, which represents betting shops, casinos and online operators, proposed that it should be a legal requirement for all licensed betting and gaming operators to sign up to the ombudsman.

257

888 reported confidence that it remains “well positioned to deliver further strategic progress during 2021 and beyond,” as the firm stated that strong momentum had continued into the year’s second quarter.

The online gambling group said that Q2 was slightly ahead of board expectations, with a trading update highlighting a ten per cent growth in revenue to $257m (2020: $214m).

This has been aligned to continued success of its product-leadership strategy, long-term positive customer acquisition trends, and continued expansion in regulated markets. 

Furthermore, 888 also pinpointed strong performances in the UK, Italy, Spain, Romania and Portugal, which were offset by the impact of the new regulation in Germany.

30,000

Entain signalled its intention to accelerate development of its casino and gaming content across several international markets, with plans to double investment in its in-house game studios. 

Markets targeted include the UK, US and the Baltics, with a strong focus on the latter as a result of Entain’s acquisition of Enlabs earlier this year. 

In order to push content in the Baltic region, the firm’s UK-based studio is developing the latest release of the ‘Big Banker’ title for Latvian Optibet customers, as well as bwin players in other parts of Europe.

Further content will include ‘first of their kind’ free-to-play slot tournaments, which so far have seen over 30,000 UK-based Entain customers take part in June following the launch, whilst international customers of the Gala, Party and bwin brands are expected to join throughout the summer.

17

The Swedish Gambling Authority has reprimanded More Tech Group and Multi Brand Gaming for breaches of information responsibility, as well as disclosing the finding of a recent survey which aimed to examine the playing habits of individuals across the country.

Both group’s were found to have breached section 17 of the Spelinspektionen’s general guidelines on gaming liability, which it says was “because the logo for limiting deposits (gaming budget) and determining login time was missing in the logged-out mode on the company’s regular and mobile-adapted websites”.

It is added that More Tech Group also violated sections seven and eight of the regulations and general guidelines on commercial online gambling and betting, regarding licensees’ information responsibility due to the lack of certain contact information on the website’s home page.

In it acknowledged that both group’s have taken corrective measures, however, the regulator adds “that the violation is not to be regarded as serious, but neither as minor nor excusable,” with reprimands deemed a worthy sanction.

2021

The Ontario government made what it called “a key step toward creating a safe, regulated and competitive online gaming market” through establishing iGaming Ontario.

The new subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will “conduct and manage” the new online gaming offerings in the province, as well as helping to establish the region as “an international leader in online gaming”.

The AGCO will continue to be responsible for regulatory oversight for all gaming activities in Ontario, including igaming operators, suppliers, and the new subsidiary. The new igaming marketplace is expected to be operational in December 2021.

The government, along with Ontario’s igaming commercial project lead, Birgitte Sand, will continue to meet with the industry, First Nations communities and organisations and social responsibility groups to finalise the setup and rules for the new marketplace.

Moreover, it is also noted that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation will continue to conduct and manage its own igaming offerings through OLG.ca.

240

Crown Resorts has offered a preliminary insight into the group’s performance during the full year ending June 30, 2021, which was “significantly impacted” by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s properties closed for various periods of time, with operating restrictions also applying throughout the period, including capacity limits and physical distancing protocols.

For the year, Crown expects to report theoretical EBITDA before closure costs and significant items of between A$240m-A$250m, and theoretical EBITDA after closure costs but before significant items of between A$90m-A$100m

Furthermore, the group also anticipates recording a statutory loss after tax for the year, however, its statutory result remains subject to review by the board and management and Crown’s external auditors as part of normal year end processes. 

29

Tabcorp is to undertake a demerger of its lotteries and keno business following a “thorough and rigorous assessment of all relevant structural and ownership options”.

The group says that the decision to pursue a demerger follows the conclusion of a comprehensive strategic review of all relevant structural and ownership options in a bid to maximise value for shareholders, which was first announced on March 29, 2021. 

The move will create two standalone ASX-listed companies, namely lotteries and keno and wagering and gaming, with distinct operating profiles, strategies and growth opportunities. 

19 

The Betting and Gaming Council strongly welcomed the government’s plan to lift most remaining COVID restrictions in England, saying the move represents “good news for hospitality venues like casinos and their staff”.

After having “had to endure many, many months of closure and crippling restrictions,” venues such as casinos and high street betting shops will no longer have to adhere to anti-COVID measures, such as the need for social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face masks.

This came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he believed the country was on track to move to the final stage of the lockdown roadmap on July 19.

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