2017 in Review: The iGaming Highlights of the Year Summarised
2017 has been a busy year for the iGaming industry seeing a lot of mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, product releases and record-breaking results. To have a solid recap, we lined up the Highlights in a month-by-month review. 2018 – bring it on!
Raketech aquired sports TV listing company and casino affiliate group
RakeTech Group, one of Europe’s leading iGaming a liates acquired assets in Agonas AB and Astro Media Group AB. The deal included the ownership of multiple leading Nordic sports TV websites, while the acquisition of Astro Media Group involved several hight quality and leading Swedish casino affiliate websites. These acquisitions together strengthened RekeTech’s market position and established the company as a provider of high-quality sports and casino content.
888 considered relocating from Gibraltar to Malta post-Brexit
In an annual report by one of the world’s most popular online gaming operators & platform providers, 888 Holdings PLC Company, it was stated that they were considering a possibility to move their headquarters from Gibraltar to Malta.
In the report, they highlighted the various risks that the European online gaming industry faced. Although they stated they were considering moving their headquarters and license away from the Rock, they will still retain some presence there.
Gibraltar post-Brexit – no longer an online gambling haven?
The decision of the people of the UK to vote to leave the EU has created fears that Gibraltar will lose its status as something of an online gambling haven. Gibraltar’s lax taxation rules makes it favourable as a licensing destination, but that will likely change once ties are cut with the EU. Well-known operators such as Ladbrokes, BetVictor, the NYX Gaming Group and IGT all have their business headquarters on the peninsula.
By leaving the EU, the territory may face several issues in regards to the way its internet-based wagering services will be allowed to operate.
Tel Aviv to Malta – direct flight met increasing demand for gaming
The end of April saw the national Maltese airline Air Malta launch its new schedule of direct flights from Malta to Tel Aviv. This connection operated three times a week over summer 2017, opening up the Mediterranean gaming hub of Malta for Israel.
Management changed in LeoVegas – Johan Styren left his position after 5 years
Matching Visions & Friends Weekend struck again!
The second Matching Visions & Friends Weekend took place in May, and this luxurious networking getaway was one of the most unique and quirky events on the iGaming calendar.
A close knit group of some 50 delegates, including top operators and affiliates, hopped from one tiny island, Malta, to an even tinier one, Lampedusa. Delegates were boarding two privately chartered flights to take the short 30 minute flight across the Mediterranean to a destination famous for having one of the best beaches on the planet.
Aspire Global Continued its Growth with Three New Deals
Following a successful Q1, Aspire Global announced several additional casino launches, cementing its position as the leading complete iGaming solution for operators and white labels.
The company launched three new brands in May after signing new partnerships with Jaak Systems, Cashiopeia and Mursimo.
Sky Betting and Gaming applied for local licence
According to the Malta Gaming Authority, they have already received 59 applications from other companies in the first four month of the year.
Betsson launched iGaming Academy Training to over 1,500 employees
iGaming Academy has been selected by leading iGaming Operator Betsson Group to provide eLearning solutions and help retain PCI-DSS Compliance.
In order to comply with PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), businesses are required to ensure staff understand the importance of company security and reduce the risk of cardholder data loss. When examining its own security requirements, Betsson Group looked to iGaming Academy to provide a robust and cost-effective training solution.
iGaming Academy developed a bespoke e-Learning Information Security course for Betsson Group.
Better Collective acquired leading German affiliate group SportFreunde
Better Collective, the world’s leading provider of betting tips, bookmaker information and builder of iGaming communities, has acquired Austrian company Hebiva Beteiligungen GmbH, the owner of affiliate SportFreunde Informationsdienste GmbH (“SportFreunde”), for an undisclosed sum. This move is a key step in Better Collective’s rapidly-advancing M&A strategy.
BREAKING: EveryMatrix signed large operator Tipico
EveryMatrix was thrilled to sign Tipico for CasinoEngine Direct, the EveryMatrix casino solution, delivering the largest selection of games in the industry through a single integration.
According to the agreement, EveryMatrix is delivering games via CasinoEngine for more than 20 casino providers considerably boosting Tipico’s website with more RNG games and premium live casino from Evolution and others.
Catena Media acquired affiliate website newcasinos.com
Fast-growing online performance marketing and lead generation company Catena Media has acquired casino affiliate newcasinos.com.
The website has been growing rapidly, especially on the UK market, which gives Catena Media an opportunity to further strengthen its presence in regulated markets.
Five-year research and development project solved SEO
MSW’s REACH.AI project offers unique investment opportunities for those interested in SEO, digital marketing, data enrichment, and person-name disambiguation objectives.
GIG announced its largest acquisition to date
Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GIG) has through its subsidiary Innovation Labs agreed to acquire all assets in one of the biggest affiliate networks in Scandinavia, Stk Marketing Ltd, for a total consideration of NOK 240 million (around EUR 26 million).
“We have set an ambition for Innovation Labs to become the largest lead generation business in iGaming,” Robin Reed.
Malta geared up for blockchain revolution
The Maltese government revealed details of an ambitious plan to turn the island into one of the first countries in the world to embrace the blockchain technology.
As with iGaming, the aim will be for these companies to boost the Maltese economy through taxes, licence fees, and economic consumption of their Malta-based employees.
Future of Gaming discussed at Follow The Entrepreneur in Malta
After six successful years of hosting the Follow the Entrepreneur Investor Summit in the UK, Ariadne Capital brought this year’s event to Malta. Leading investors and entrepreneurs from around the world gathered to inspire and provide a strong understanding of the trends and ideas that will transform next big investments.
LCB spotted fake Yggdrasil and Pragmatic Play slots
Giant Amaya rebranded to The Stars Group
Amaya, headquartered in Canada, with offices also in Malta, announced in July 2017 that it has completed its planned re-branding from Amaya to The Stars Group. In addition, its headquarters in Montreal will be relocated to Toronto.
The company also revealed its updated corporate logo and launched a new site to mark this launch.
This includes trading under a new acronym on the Global Select Market as TSG and under the Toronto Stock Exchange as TSGI.
Malta’s proposed gaming law overhaul: Key changes and challenges
The consultation document published on 12 July 2017 (“Consultation Paper”) by the Malta Gaming Authority (“MGA”) together with a draft of the proposed new Gaming Act and several regulations to be made under it (“Draft Law”) is the first welcome and publicly visible step in the process of consolidation, rationalisation and future proofing of Malta’s gaming laws.
A quick read through the Consultation Paper and the Draft Law makes it immediately apparent that this is no piece meal process: Malta is seeking to leverage the strengths of its existing regulations, its position as a leading regulator of remote gaming.
Scholarships in Game Development for Maltese students
Ten Maltese scholarship awardees were granted a place at the American University of Malta for a four-year course. The 10 awardees had a chance to become Bachelor of Science in game development, accounting or business administration. The students also received a stipend from the Maltese government. The total sum of the scholarships accounts is EUR 300,000.
Betsson CEO Ulrik Bengtsson left his position
President and CEO of the largest gaming company in Malta, Ulrik Bengtsson, has left his position. The decision was made by the Board of Directors and Mr. Bengtsson who has chosen to step down immediately.
Sky Betting & Gaming terminated Affiliate Hub programme
The online gambling group stopped its Affiliate Hub operations in September, ending all commission and player referral arrangements with its existing affiliate marketing partners.
Reasons for this were the growing regulatory issues and SB&G doesn’t see its affiliate programme as not applicable for its business operations.
New flight connection between Malaga and Malta operated by Air Malta
People travelling between Malta and Malaga and/or Gibraltar face extensive travel hours, layovers at foreign airports and long journeys causing unnecessary losses for the companies. These flight connections were not considered optimal for successful collaboration between the iGaming locations.
Air Malta responded to the high demand and will introduce their new route between Malaga and Malta by the beginning of summer 2018. Air Malta announced that they will be flying biweekly.
Gaming Innovation Group acquired Rebel Penguin
For a total amount of €13 million the Gaming Innovation Group Inc. (GIG), through its subsidiary GIG Media acquired Rebel Penguin, the technology driven Danish performance marketing company.
The acquisition of RP is an important initiative by GIG as part of the company’s strategy to increase its sportsbetting capabilities before the World Cup in 2018.
Videoslots announced launch of new 3D poker product
SIS (Sports Information Services) announced a significant relaunch of its retail TV service to bookmakers.
On 1st April 2018 the SIS service will be provided across two complementary channels to reflect the increased volume of content and the second channel will ensure that content is covered as thoroughly as possible with more build-up.
Matching Visions acquired Nordic-focused SEO sites
Better Collective attracted former Microsoft president Klaus Holse
The Danish company Better Collective announced the appointment of the former European president of Microsoft for Western Europe and current CEO of SimCorp, the investment management software solutions provider Klaus Holse to its board of directors.
Responding to his appointment to the board Klaus Holse said, “Considering that the company has received multiple industry awards for their innovative digital products, they are certainly leading the pack within the iGaming industry.”
Multibillion-pound merger between Ladbrokes Coral And GVC
As the Financial Times newspaper revealed, the two companies are closer towards signing a deal for a multibillion-pound merger than it was previously known and have already come to a conclusion in terms of how the new executive team and bored should look like.
Betzest Partnered with We Are Casino
The highly anticipated sports betting/casino operator Betzest has agreed on a cooperation with We Are Casino. As part of this partnership, the full suite of We Are Casino online gaming content was launched by Betzest. Additionally, Betzest will also have access to the We Are Casino collection of in-game promotional & gasification tools.
Oulala Partnered with Bravio
GiG launched “GiG Games” casino games service provider in Marbella
The new game studio is based in the group’s Marbella location and develops casino games to be sold to operators on a revenue share basis.
GIG Games has made significant technological progress and has 3 games under development which will be launched in Q3 2018.
Malta-based AXL Affiliates bought Astute Media for €25 Million
AXL Affiliates Ltd, a global independent iGaming Company based in Malta, has acquired ASTUTE MEDIA LTD as well as all the firm’s subsidiary companies — twelve of them. ASTUTE MEDIA is a global advertising platform that delivers over 900M+ ad impressions per day, through its twelve subsidiaries. The purchase helped AXL Affiliates to reach new markets and territories, and strengthened its leading position in the sportsbetting affiliate sector.
Wazdan and EveryMatrix Siged Deal
Following the integration, Wazdan’s portfolio of engaging and innovative slots, which can be enjoyed on mobile, desktop and tablets, was made accessible to EveryMatrix’s network of operators, including Magic Target Deluxe, Valhalla and Wild Guns.
Mr Green Acquired Evoke Gaming
Mr Green signed an agreement to acquire Evoke Gaming, the deal includes a number of Evoke operated gaming sites such as Redbet, Vinnarum casino, Bertil and MamaMia, all of which are primarily focused on Sweden and other Nordic markets.
iSoftBet and BtoBet Signed Agreement to Expand Their Market Share
Highly rated mobile and online casino game supplier iSoftBet, which is operating in Spain, Italy, Belgium, Romania and Portugal and