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Merkur’s latest launches bring the heat to ICE London

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Whether sipping on sunshine from a tropical island or feeling the hot breath of a dragon, Merkur Gaming’s latest three games are set to catch fire at ICE London as the company prepares for a “big” show and an even bigger year ahead…

“Maximum performance and maximum entertainment,” is how Merkur Gaming has described its focus at the start of 2020 as the company prepares to enhance its online portfolio even further following a hugely successful year launching eye-catching and popular new titles.  The launch of its three latest titles, Dragon’s Maid, Mojito Beach and Tri Piki, is testament to the Gauselmann subsidiary’s ongoing reel game line-up expansion with 2020 set to be a shining year for new releases according to Maja Cvetkovic, Business Development Manager – Online at Merkur Gaming.

Commenting on the company’s latest, sizzling reels, Cvetkovic said: “Our newest releases all deliver on our usual strong passion for details of classic casino games with an online twist and will for sure match players’ expectations as they combine unique mathematics and in-game features in fun and exciting ways.”

Dragon’s Maid is a 5-reel with 10, 20 or 40 win lines, which beckons players into a story of a special hero family of the titular maid and her dragons. “We developed a game which centred around the unbreakable bond between the Dragon’s Maid and these majestic blue Dragons. Have you ever seen lively creatures being there for each other, going through one adventure after the other and always holding their backs? This game will bring this unique story to life as players learn from their deep relationship.”

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This medieval game features wilds and sticky wilds centred around the adventure whilst also bringing its fantasy creatures into a new free game feature. “The Maid and the Dragons help each other and use their strengths also for the other one’s benefit,” Cvetkovic explained.  “Players can also make their way into the free game feature. The number of free games which are set off is based on a secret magical formula only the Dragons know: Depending on how many of his Dragon mates the blue Dragon summons, the number of free games is decided. This means that the Dragon’s Maid belongs to a big Dragon family and in a good family everyone does his best for the other family members!”

Merkur Gaming’s other latest release bring players in contact with a different kind of heat, the hot summer sun of the tropics filled with surfing, swimming and sipping on cocktails. Mojito Beach delivers a party in a glass with a 5-reel-10-win-lines-game which makes the famous rum-based beverage the star of the show.

“For this impressive slot we wanted to offer the feel of the bright sun, big waves on the shore and the famous Mojito Beach Party as well as big payouts and some winning wild features,” Cvetkovic said.  “Players will meet a highly motivated barkeeper and his female co-worker who created her own Mojito recipe! She creates and serves them with all her talent as she is wild and expanding wild but her speciality is also to turn all the glasses of Mojito appearing on the reels into wild symbols as well. This is a game filled with good times from the music, stunning graphics and gameplay, bring out the ice and let’s get this party started!”

Finally, Merkur’s Tri Piki game brings the myths of a tropical island, which is a highly popular game theme in the reel game sector, into a winning formula of wilds and scatters for players of any type. The story unfolds of a dancing woman who uses spiritual magic to keep the sunset sparkling through the night which all combines with state-of-the-art game mathematics and a calming, meditative gameplay.

“Tri Piki is a 5 reels and 10 or 20 win line game in which the dancing woman is wild and scatter and sets off 10 free games when her symbol appears 3 times on the reels. Through her ritual dance she chooses 3 special symbols and hides all of the symbols under shells which then have to be picked by the player or her upon which she reveals the special symbols.”

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Cvetkovic concluded: “Tri Piki is not a typical vacation destination and as a game it stands out for the variety of hidden in-game features tied into the idyllic setting. In daylight when the dancing Woman sleeps, you can sip on mango sunshine cocktails and bathe in the sun, doing a trip with the boat or swim with the dolphins in the sea. So this small island bears more hidden treasures than those which can be seen at first sight. The beautiful nature of Tri Piki is outstanding and definitely provides everything a player needs to forget the hectic life outside.”

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AGT CEO Harald Neumann

Ainsworth Primed to Progress After 17% Revenue Rise

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AGT chairman Danny Gladstone said a 17% rise in full-year revenue to $284.9m will allow the company to “release new and innovative products to further improve the group’s financial results.”

Underlying EBITDA was $57.8m compared to $55.8m a year ago, with profit before tax, excluding currency effects and one-off items, rising 10.4%. International revenues, which now account for 86% of AGT’s total revenue, rose 24%.

North America revenue in the current period was $140.4m, a 17% increase, while revenues of $80.1m were achieved in Latin America and Europe, climbing 26%.

“This momentum was driven by continued demand in Argentina and a return in venue re-openings within Mexico and Peru. In the current period unit sales in Mexico represented 25 per cent of total unit sales compared to 10% in the PCP,” AGT said.

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Gladstone said: “Following the announcement made in November 2023 where the company advised on the engagement of Macquarie Capital as the company’s financial advisor, a strategic review of all potential opportunities has progressed in the period.

“This strategic review encompasses a number of potential alternatives to maximise shareholder value. While there is no assurance that any transaction will result from this strategic review, we will continue to keep the market updated.”

AGT CEO Harald Neumann said the company is “well advanced to capitalize on opportunities and progress to further establish the Ainsworth name as a leading provider within the gaming industry sector.”

“Progress made in the current period further exemplifies the confidence in the strategies implemented which are expected to ensure progressive improvements in the company’s earnings in coming periods.

“The investments we have made have enabled us to upgrade our technology, hardware and improve game performance which are expected to deliver further improvements in our financial results and ensure our long term sustained success.”

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Industry News

Solverde.pt Partners with MGA Games and Endorphina

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Solverde.pt, the Portuguese bookmaker and online casino, has announced partnerships with two new game creation studios: MGA Games, a Spanish company acknowledged for the creation and distribution of casino games, and Endorphina, recognised for the recent incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in slot machines.

The new partnerships mark a milestone: Solverde.pt is the first online casino in Portugal with 2500 games on a single platform.

Solverde.pt’s partnership with MGA Games, considered the Best Technology Provider at the Asocación JDigital Awards and Gaming, marks the Spanish company’s expansion into the Portuguese market. Among the games released, MGA Games has dedicated itself to integrating Portuguese entertainment personalities in its creations, like the Portuguese football player Paulo Futre, among others.

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At the same time, the first batch of 25 Endorphina games is launched that will be available on the Portuguese platform, exclusively, for a month. The Game Developer established in more than 25 countries, with ten years of experience, it was the first casino game producer to create a Slot Machine entirely using AI algorithms. Among the games available, “Glory of Egypt”, “Book of Vlad”, “Dynamite Miner” and “Fisher King” stand out.

These two new partnerships, and consequent game launches, reaffirm Solverde.pt as the online casino with the largest offer of games in Portugal.

“The 2500 games on a single platform are a fundamental step for the company, which reinforces its leadership position in the sector. The collaboration with studios such as MGA Games and Endorphina allows us to lead in Portugal with an offer of innovation and excellence. Notably, MGA Games has a portfolio of 100 titles, created with HTML5 technology, that stand out for their graphical quality, and Edorphina made history by being the first company to develop a game entirely powered by AI, demonstrating its dedication to pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology,” Sérgio Pascoal, Director of R&D at Solverde.pt, said.

“The studio is confident that our slots will impress Solverde.pt players, as well as make them feel the true thrill of the game. We share a passion for entertainment and reflect that by delivering top-notch, high-value content to operators,” Javier Lanfranchi, Sales Director at MGA Games, said.

“By offering the state-of-the-art games of Endorphina, exclusively for Solverde.pt, we aim to provide a unique and exciting gaming experience that reflects both companies’ unwavering pursuit of innovation,” Jonathan Martini, Senior Sales Manager at Endorphina, said.

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Compliance Updates

Ensuring Integrity: The Role of Assurance in the Gambling Industry

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By Salvador Garcia-Noblejas, Senior Regulatory Assurance Services at ComplianceOne Group

The gambling industry has its origins in the ancient period, and different types of games are found in almost every culture and civilization.

Over the last few years, we have witnessed an immense transformation, clearly boosted by technological developments. Among these changes, online gambling has grown rapidly, and with this new non-face-to-face reality, regulation and regulators have also embraced new ways to protect players, businesses, and the overall economy. Regulators have the responsibility to set the framework of common rules that define what is right and wrong, the means to protect all parties, and the tools that must be used when anyone does not behave as expected.

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Assurance in a world of global risks

It would be inaccurate to assume that regulatory assurance’s only goal is to ensure that operators operate in a fair and transparent manner and meet their legal obligations. On the contrary, assurance also includes helping businesses understand the risks involved in the industry where they operate, analysing their strengths and weaknesses, and setting measures to mitigate those risks.

Assurance’s starting point consists of an interview phase where tailor-made questionnaires serve better understanding the reality to each operator and its actual circumstances. Once the assurance assessment is complete, a detailed action plan assists the operator in fixing any identified gaps, improving policies and procedures, and obtaining the maximum financial gain from refining their processes, products, and operations.

As part of the fast transformation of the gambling industry, with competitive new products, platforms, advertisements, and market expansion, we must not forget that bad actors and illegal practices also develop. This is the moment to ask ourselves if we are ready to face whatever can harm our operations. The most efficient way to know is carrying out a thorough audit of policies, procedures, and processes. This approach will certainly save operators from potential harm to their clients, products, brands, and finances.

Audit readiness

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Regulators focus on legislation, supervision, and enforcement. All stakeholders must comply with gambling regulations if they want to offer products and services or provide a safe environment to their clients. An important part of the gambling legal system is the fact that the industry is continuously overseen to ensure that all actors adhere to the established rules. At this point, operators need to ask themselves how ready they are to show sufficient evidence that their operations adhere to the law.

Smart operators will choose to comply with as many rules and regulations as their business is capable of, and they will ensure that records are properly kept. Company leadership is essential in ensuring compliance as it contributes to collaboration between departments and having policies and procedures that make the business run within the parameters of the legislation.

Lessons learned

In recent years, some highly publicized enforcement actions, including fines and penalties, license suspension, and revocation, have alerted the whole gambling industry. From such cases, there have been increasing efforts in reviewing processes, improving systems, and growing compliance departments.

Experience in the gambling industry has taught us that it is crucial to have a detailed understanding of the regulations that govern the relationship between operators and players. Where knowledge has been insufficient, inaccurate, or out of date, some business decisions have led to unwanted consequences, sometimes catastrophic ones.

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Knowledge, a solid compliance culture, strong procedures, and willingness are the formula to be ready for a regulatory audit.

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