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Playtika Announces First Quarter 2021 Results

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Playtika Holding Corp has announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2021.

First quarter 2021 financial highlights:

  • First quarter revenue was $638.9 million compared to $534.2 million in the prior year period.
  • Net income was $35.7 million compared to $35.8 million in the prior year period.
  • Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure defined below, was $258.0 million compared to $186.1 million in the prior year period.
  • Available liquidity, defined as Cash and Cash Equivalents as of March 31, 2021, plus undrawn revolving credit facility, is over $1.5 billion.

“We kicked off 2021 with a very robust first quarter. Our Boost technology platform powers our best-in-class Live Operations, allowing Playtika to continually drive fresh content to our players. Our focus on data-driven game management, assisted by our impactful marketing campaigns, resulted in our impressive revenue growth. We are excited with our results and look forward to leveraging this success throughout the year,” Robert Antokol, CEO of Playtika, said.

“Our business displayed excellent momentum in the first quarter, and we experienced strong performance across all parts of our company,” Craig Abrahams, President and CFO of Playtika, said.

“We continue to innovate within our portfolio of game franchises and delivered excellent organic revenue growth with over 40% Adjusted EBITDA margins in the quarter. We are pleased to be able to increase our financial outlook for the year, particularly of the target milestone of delivering $1 billion in adjusted EBITDA for 2021.”

Crown Resorts Appoints Steve McCann as its New CEO and Managing Director

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Australian land-based operator Crown Resorts has appointed Steve McCann as its new CEO and Managing Director. Subject to the receipt of certain probity and regulatory approvals, McCann will officially join Crown on June 1.

He will replace Ken Barton, who stepped down as CEO in February after an inquiry into the operator’s activity found it “unsuitable” to operate a casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo region.

McCann has spent more than 25 years working in executive roles and is currently the group chief executive of real estate and investment group Lendlease Corporation, a position he has held for over a decade.

McCann had planned to retire from Lendlease last year but remained with the group to lead its response to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. He will officially step down from the Lendlease board on May 31 and assume his new role at Crown the following day.

“I am looking forward to joining Crown at a crucial time for the organisation and see a real opportunity to help drive significant shareholder value as the company addresses its challenges and emerges from the constraints of the pandemic,” McCann said.

Helen Coonan, who will continue to perform her executive responsibilities as interim executive chairman at Crown until McCann receives the necessary approvals, said the addition of McCann represented a “first-class appointment” for the operator.

“Recognised as one of Australia’s most respected business leaders, Steve has a unique blend of strategic, financial and corporate governance expertise and a track record of building strong employee engagement and driving cultural change,” Coonan said.

“During a comprehensive recruitment process, Steve was the clear choice from a quality field of prospective candidates. The board was looking for a CEO firmly committed to building on the momentum for change within our business and Steve is ideally placed to hit the ground running as our sweeping reform program takes hold.”

37.5+ million copies of Xbox’s best-selling games wasted, according to fans

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Microsoft recently released their earnings report for quarter three, revealing that their profits for Xbox content and services have increased a whopping 34% this quarter. Despite this, they claim to have never made a profit from selling the consoles themselves, meaning most of this profit is made from the sales of games. This led ManySpins to investigate exactly how satisfied gamers are with the games they purchase from Xbox.

Using a list of the 20 best-selling Xbox One games, they used Metacritic’s user score to find out exactly what players thought of the games they had purchased. Metacritic’s user scores range from 0-10, with higher scores indicating better reviews from the gaming community.

Xbox One’s best-selling games that disappointed fans most:

 

  Xbox One Game Number of Copies Sold Worldwide User Score (Metacritic) Number of copies potentially wasted
#1 PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds 8 million 49%                 4,080,000
#2 Call of Duty: Black Ops III 7.37 million 46%                 3,979,800
#3 Call of Duty: WWII 6.23 million 43%                 3,551,100
#4 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare 4.79 million 38%                 2,969,800
#5 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare 5.22 million 55%                 2,349,000
#6 Star Wars Battlefront 4.14 million 45%                 2,277,000
#7 Assassin’s Creed Unity 3.58 million 45%                 1,969,000
#8 Grand Theft Auto V 8.72 million 79%                 1,831,200
#9 FIFA 17 3.71 million 52%                 1,780,800
#10 Halo 5: Guardians 4.92 million 64%                 1,771,200

 

ManySpins can reveal the game with the most copies potentially wasted is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The game has sold a total of 8 million copies so far, but with only 49% of players happy with their purchase, around 4 million copies have been wasted.

Call of Duty games claim spots 2 to 5 of the most wasted games, with a grand total of nearly 13 million copies wasted between the four games. COD is known for being expensive as part of Xbox’s triple A games, and as there are now 24 COD games, it is easy to see how Microsoft could be more focussed on profits rather than quality gaming.

Coming sixth is Star Wars Battlefront, and with just 45% of players happy with the game that means an estimated 2.2 million copies went to waste. Eighth is Grand Theft Auto V with approximately 1.8 million copies wasted, followed by FIFA 17 in ninth (estimated 1.7 million copies wasted).

Rounding up the top 10 most disappointing Xbox One games is Halo 5: Guardians. Selling a grand total of 4.9 million copies and with a score of 64%, around 1.7 million copies of this game were potentially wasted on unhappy customers.

Kevin Roos, expert from ManySpins.com said: “Many of Xbox’s games are £50-60 on release, so despite making a loss on the consoles, Microsoft generates a lot of income through the sales of games and gaming passes. It’s not surprising that their profits have increased during the pandemic with more people spending longer at home and less time commuting.”

He added: “Microsoft knows that they can sell their consoles for a loss and still make money, especially if they keep bringing out new consoles meaning gamers have to purchase new versions of their games to continue playing.”

 

Methodology:

  1. ManySpins.com used Wikipedia’s list of ‘best-selling Xbox One games’ to find the 20 best-selling video games on Xbox One.
  2. They then searched each game on Metacritic to find the user score for each game, specifically the Xbox One editions.
  3. ManySpins.com then ranked the games from best to worst based on their Metacritic user score to find which best-selling Xbox Ones games players were most disappointed by.
  4. Number of copies potentially wasted was calculated by multiplying the games’ total sales from Wikipedia’s list by the percentage of negative reviews on Metacritic. These are approximate values only.

All data is correct as of 10/05/2021, but is subject to change.

Real Luck Group Ltd’s Luckbox shortlisted for two EGR Marketing & Innovation Awards

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Real Luck Group Ltd. and its subsidiary companies doing business as “Luckbox” (the “Group”), a leading provider of licensed, real money esports betting, is pleased to announce it has been shortlisted in two categories at the EGR Marketing & Innovation Awards 2021.

The EGR Marketing & Innovation Awards reward the most innovative and creative operators and affiliates in the online gaming industry, recognizing those who have pushed themselves to bring something new to the industry in the last 12 months.

Luckbox has been shortlisted in the Innovative Start-up and Innovation In Esports categories, with winners due to be announced on June 30, 2021.

Luckbox was named Rising Star at the EGR Operator Awards in 2020.

Luckbox CEO Thomas Rosander said: “We are thrilled and honoured to be in the running for these awards, amongst the most prestigious marketing accolades in the igaming industry. Despite a limited marketing budget leading until Q2 2021, our team has shown tremendous creativity and innovation in both marketing and product development to be selected for this shortlist. This work has given us a solid foundation to build upon. Our recent financing, which was in high demand, means we are now capitalized to spend significantly on marketing for the first time, which enables us to scale up these initial successes.”

Real Luck Group would like to wish all nominees the best of luck.

Memphis Grizzlies And WynnBET Announce Details Of Multi-Year Marketing Partnership

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Memphis Grizzlies, the US-based professional basketball team, has entered into a multi-year marketing partnership with WynnBET. This is the Grizzlies’ second sports betting partnership since legalized sports betting launched in Tennessee last year.

The Grizzlies–WynnBET partnership will heavily leverage the Grizzlies’ digital footprint, including social media, web, and mobile applications. There will also be a physical space at FedExForum for all fans to enjoy on event days and beyond.

The digital-first approach between the Grizzlies and WynnBET will be anchored to some of the most popular digital and broadcast programs offered by the Grizzlies and Grind City Media, an on-demand media platform and digital content studio. WynnBET will become presenting partner of the Chris Vernon Show, a daily sports and entertainment show hosted by Grind City Media’s Chris Vernon. WynnBET will also become presenting partner of the Odds Couple, a sports betting show.

The Memphis Grizzlies Mobile App will now offer fans a unique free-to-play game function as part of the WynnBET partnership. The new free-to-play Buzzer Beater Picks in-app game, presented by WynnBET, gives Grizzlies fans the opportunity at home or in the arena to make their own predictions of various outcomes during each Grizzlies game. Fans will have the chance to climb up the Buzzer Beater Picks leaderboard and compete with other Grizzlies fans for the chance to win real prizes courtesy of WynnBET.

WynnBET is making its mark in downtown Memphis, taking over naming rights to a renovated space inside FedExForum on the Plaza Level, adjacent to the FedExHub and accessible from Beale Street Alley. Once completed, fans can dive into the WynnBET experience in a sports-bar type atmosphere that will be unique to FedExForum. In addition to being a new space for fans to enjoy during Grizzlies games and all other events at FedExForum, the WynnBET space will also be open on additional days year-round, becoming the go-to spot in downtown Memphis for fans to watch all their favorite sports programming while engaging with the WynnBET mobile app.

“The popularity of sports gaming in Tennessee continues to increase, and we’re thrilled to partner with one of the most recognizable names in sports and entertainment with WynnBET. With the importance of a digital-first approach, partnering WynnBET with our Grind City Media shows, content and features was a very organic framework for building this forward-looking partnership. We also enjoy any opportunity to create new and different spaces to experience inside FedExForum for our fans, and we love the thought of being a destination in downtown Memphis for sports fans to watch their favorite sports programming year-round,” Jason Wexler, President of Memphis Grizzlies, said.

FanDuel CEO’s Exit Pauses IPO Plans

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Flutter Entertainment said the boss of its US FanDuel operation had resigned and that his departure would affect the timing of a potential listing for the business in the US.

The FTSE 100 gambling group said Matt King had agreed to stay on while it looked for a replacement. He is leaving after four years in which FanDuel became the US market leader for online sports betting and gaming, Flutter said.

Flutter said King’s departure would affect the timing of a potential listing for FanDuel and that it would keep the option under review. King’s departure is a blow to Flutter and the company did not say what his plans were.

The owner of Paddy Power and Betfair said in March it was considering listing a stake in FanDuel in the US, which is increasingly opening up to sports betting. Flutter owns 95% of FanDuel after investing in the business in 2018 and increasing its stake in December. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports owns 2.5% and is in a legal dispute with Flutter over Fox’s option to buy a bigger stake.

Peter Jackson, Flutter’s chief executive, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Matt for his considerable contribution in helping to make FanDuel the US market leader it is today. While we will be sorry to see him leave, he leaves the business in great shape. We are starting the process of looking for a new CEO for FanDuel and we remain focused on maintaining our leadership position in the US market.”

The Right RTP for the German 5.3% Turnover-taxation?

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So, you may have seen a poll I have published recently with the title: “If/when Germany introduces the 5.3% turnover tax, what RTP rate is best suited considering both game-play and effective tax-paid?” If you haven’t seen it, here is the poll again for reference:

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6790660730564825088/

There are a few ways of looking at this, but I think the key take-away is that the industry this poll represents is fairly evenly split between above 90% RTP and below 90% RTP.

The tax explained

 First, to ensure we are on the same page, a quick explanation of the tax proposed:

Currently a 5.3% tax on turnover has been proposed and a draft-legislation does exist. I won’t go into the politics and the thinking behind this, but rather try to analyze the numbers.

A 5.3% tax on every bet being placed on an online slot means an operator can not offer an RTP over 94.7%. At 94.7% RTP, the operator would break even exactly on a bet-level, but obviously would lose money as marketing, employees and general operation have to be financed somehow. Considering financial overhead in any operation, that means the maximum RTP a casino is technically able to offer while avoiding bankruptcy is probably around 93% or more likely at 92%. This is the top ceiling and at the same time too high to be profitable.

Now, there is a bit of uncertainty and I’m also not entirely sure if the number to calculate against is 5.3% or rather 5.033%. The tax is 5.3% on turnover, meaning a 1 EUR bet causes a tax of 5.3 cents, which totals to 1.053 EUR. The tax-portion of 1.053 EUR is less than 5.3%. 100*5.3/(100+5.3) = 5.033 resp. 5.033%. I do calculations here in this document based on 5.3%.

How to balance RTP and profitability

We’ve established above that 93% or 92% is the top ceiling, but where is the bottom?

The table below shows how a Slots-operator will be taxed, calculated into the GGR-equivalent %-age number and cross-referenced with RTP. For reference, many other jurisdictions in Europe offer a GGR-based tax-rate of around 20%. As you can see from the table below, the 5.3% tax-rate on turnover wouldn’t be so bad, if players would accept 80% RTP. At 80% RTP, the GGR-equivalent tax-rate is 26.50% and thus a competitive tax-rate.

The coloring I have done here may be slightly biased, especially in terms of RTP so please take with a grain of salt. But if you roughly accept that the red-area you want to avoid on the RTP and on the GGR-% side, then you end up with an RTP-bandwidth between 84% and 91% to play with.

Further, and again granted you accept the coloring, an operator obviously wants to find an RTP in the green and a GGR-% in the green. Here we arrive at 88% and 89% RTP.

Now, a lot has been written that players will not accept such low RTP’s as say 84%. There are counter-arguments made that in land-based slots the RTP is exactly at that level and actually 88% is on the higher-end in land-based casinos.

On the other hand, for many market-participants the number “9” is a psychological blocker. Players, Affiliates and a couple of Slots-Studios I speak to feel very anxious offering product below 90% as this number still feels somewhat close to the industry-average of 94 to 97%. 89% sounds very different than 90%, although it is “just” 1% in RTP dropped.

Sportsbook vs. Casinos

It will be interesting to watch if Sportsbook or Sports-led brands will choose a differing RTP-rate than Pure-Play Casinos. A Sportsbook can more easily stay on a higher RTP and just pause all short-term expenses (bonus, marketing, etc.) and focus on cross-sell. A pure-play Casino will have to look a lot more closely on bottom-line and in my opinion will have a hard time offering e.g. 90% RTP-Slots as the GGR-equivalent tax-rate is 53%.

Game-Mechanics?

 Will there be new Game-Mechanics invented to combat this problem? Looking at the table above again, the second column states how many spins a player on average can make until 1 EUR is spent depending on the RTP-Level. At 95% RTP this is 20 spins. Now, if a Game-Mechanic can be invented that provides a low mathematical RTP while at the same time provides a similar amount of real spins, then this could be a solution to the problem.

Conclusion & in my opinion

The above explanation is in no way complete – there are actually interesting studies which analyze how much an RTP is “felt” by the player and there is probably very good data the land-based industry has to offer.

But, to move away from being neutral, here’s what I personally think: The reality will be that everyone will push the RTP down and experiment with the lowest acceptable RTP as this maximizes their income. As such, come 1st of July, we’ll see a lot of RTP’s experimented with. Imagine you are a pure-play casino and you can provide a Game-Mechanic that feels good to the player and has a nice session length, while staying at or below 40% GGR-equivalent-tax. I believe things start to fall apart financially for an operator at 40% tax-rate. If you own your own media-assets and have good deals with your suppliers and run a tight operation then a 40% tax is possible to do really well in Germany. That means, the average-RTP across the portfolio will have to be around 87–88%. I think you can mix in 91% games into the portfolio just so that is part of the portfolio too, but the majority of revenue of the white-market in Germany will in my opinion come from Slots around 88% RTP. And since some games will be mixed in at 90/91% you can expected some slots to be mixed in at 84/85% rate as well.

Update 07/05/2021:

I didn’t mention in this article two other potential solutions. One is directly taxing the customer on the bet and the other is directly taxing the customer on a win (paying the tax-authorities on a bet-level, but collecting funds/tax from players on a win) like currently most sportsbetting companies do in Germany. These solutions also lower the effective-RTP-rate to the customer (just charged at a differing touch-point).

The main issue with those solutions is that an operator ends up with an equivalent-GGR taxation of around 57% which isn’t sustainable. Here are some calculations of these alternative solutions: DE 5.3% Taxation Calculations

 

By: Robert Lenzhofer, CEO & Co-Founder at Hölle Games

OKTO.CASH Goes Live with Parimatch

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OKTO, a leading fintech company powering digital payments, has launched its OKTO.CASH seamless in-app payment method in Cyprus with Parimatch.

The leading fintech firm offers Parimatch players a new physical-to-digital payment method, allowing them to top up their online gaming account with cash through any point of sale of OKTO’s partnering POS network in a safe, secure and fast way. OKTO.CASH is uniquely designed to deliver an exceptional experience that is entirely seamless throughout the top-up process, with funds accessible in real-time without exiting the gaming app or site. The solution offers players both convenience and ease of use while also takes them on a digital journey in the physical world.

Fotis Psindrides, Country Manager at OKTO, said: “Our partnership with Parimatch is fully aligned with our mission to provide users with the capabilities to transact across multiple channels seamlessly and securely, and our operator and merchant partners with reliable, resilient and seamless payment solutions tailored for their market’s need.

OKTO.CASH is the driving force by converging online payments and cash, and we are thrilled to expand in Cyprus through our cooperation with Parimatch. The addition of OKTO.CASH payment method will further diversify the brand’s payments offering, providing an intuitive mobile-first experience for the players.”

Annual insight report from WhichBingo suggests Bingo halls will continue to face a steady decline in numbers, as online popularity soars

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The popularity of traditional Bingo halls is continuing to decline as audience demographics shift and the popularity of online bingo sites has soared in lockdown. The findings were part of the annual insight report by WhichBingo, the UK’s number one, independent online bingo reviews site, owned and operated by XLMedia, which found a significant shift in the Bingo industry to younger online consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 WhichBingo survey found that 45% of respondents said they prefer to play bingo online, while only 28% of the same respondents said they would prefer to play in a land-based hall. The report reveals player numbers at bingo halls are continuing to decline year on year since 2007, and the rise in popularity of online bingo has seen many players swap their weekly night out for time spent online.

Report researchers surveyed more than 800 adults who played online bingo in the UK between January 4th – 15th 2021, and results revealed that:

  • Facebook is the social media platform of choice for bingo community groups
  • Being part of an online bingo community is considered “very important” by 20% of players, according to the survey
  • The social aspect of land-based bingo halls is perhaps the most difficult element to recreate, and 41% chose “the atmosphere” as their favourite part of attending a hall.

Facebook is the most likely place to find online bingo players gathering on social media, with 40% of survey respondents saying that is where they would like the online bingo community to exist. Website forums (27%) remain more popular than channels like Twitter (21%), Twitch (16%) and Discord (14%), showing that the most up-to-date platforms are not necessarily the places bingo players want to gather.

The report revealed that changing demographics might be behind behaviour shifts. There has been a significant increase in younger men playing online bingo, but the report’s findings show that it is still women between the ages of 25 – 54 that are the more likely grouping to play online bingo. The overall shift to a younger player demographic, with 25 to 54 now the most represented age range (83% of respondents), confirms an industry step-change and growing preference for online bingo.

The WhichBingo Report is an anticipated annual insight tool for the UK online bingo industry and a unique collective analysis of shifting consumer trends in online gaming business. The report studies and forecasts online gaming trends in the bingo, sports betting and casino industries.

 

 

Stuart Simms, CEO of XLMedia PLC Group: “Our reports have shown for several years now that the demographic playing bingo has been changing gradually and there has been a marked shift away from going down the bingo hall mid-week with friends to those playing online. Of course this has all been exacerbated by the pandemic and bingo halls being forced to shut by the government’s regulations. It seems online bingo’s appeal is now reaching people earlier in life, with those 25 to 54 now the most represented age range.

“It’s obviously hugely encouraging to see so many younger people enjoying the game and that it’s popularity is growing faster than ever. Of course, the questions on everyone’s lips will be how many of these changes have been caused by the pandemic and how many people will return to old habits when bingo halls are reopened to the public on May 17th. We think it’s important bingo retailers understand their new audiences and rethink how they communicate to them going forward.”

The full 2021 WhichBingo Report can be found online at the dedicated microsite: https://www.whichbingo.co.uk/reports/2021/

Global Esports Federation Announces Next Three Venues for GEG

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The Global Esports Federation Board has unveiled the first three host cities for its premier flagship event: Singapore 2021, Istanbul 2022 and Riyadh 2023.

The Global Esports Games (GEG), held each year in December, will convene the world in a celebration of esports, virtual sport, music and entertainment. The GEG will feature teams from across the world participating in multi-title esports competitions and active esports.

In parallel, GEFcon, a global convention of thought leaders, and the GEFestival, a dynamic celebration of inclusive esports culture highlighting music, art, technology, fashion, food and much more, promise to add to the diverse, immersive and world-class programme.

“The Global Esports Games has drawn overwhelming interest. We have undergone a rigorous selection process. Now the work and creativity truly begin as we set the stage for the world’s esports athletes and players to shine,” Chris Chan, President of Global Esports Federation, said.

“The first Global Esports Games to be held in December this year will provide the opportunity to showcase esports to the world. We are grateful to have the opportunity to host this truly historic event,” Ng Chong Geng, President of Singapore Esports Association (SGEA), said.

Co-Chairs of the Coordination Commission for the Global Esports Games, Angela Ruggiero and Luzeng Song, noted that appointing the right host cities is a key to success.

“We will lend our support and guidance so the host cities can unleash their full potential and so the incredible untold stories of the power of esports – and sport as the future of entertainment – can be unlocked, too,” Ruggiero said.

Paul J. Foster, Chief Executive Officer of Global Esports Federation, said the energy, skill and passion of esports, and the technologies that drive it, are captured in the GEF motto: #worldconnected. Carrying that forward to the Global Esports Games, he said, “We have listened to the athletes and players, the incredible publishers and developers, and the wider community to create a platform for athletes to shine, representing countries and territories as in other prestigious multi-sport competitions.”

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