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ThunderSpin captures lightning in a bottle for online casinos

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In an age where the most important focus for developers is to continually create engaging games for players and operators alike, ThunderSpin’s development process is more akin to Pixar than traditional gaming brands relying on the motto that ‘no idea is a bad idea’.

ThunderSpin, a game studio which has launched its own exclusive set of 25+ casino slots, is becoming increasingly renowned for its strategy of putting originality at the fore. With titles featuring everything from Vikings, newborn galaxies and zombies to World Cup football, biblical battles and cowboy snails, the brand’s extensive portfolio is all thanks to their one internal rule, ‘no clones’.

Commenting on the challenges of ensuring each and every game stands out in the iGaming market, Jeff Letlat, CEO at ThunderSpin, explained: “We have an internal rule – we do not make clones of popular games. Yes, we can be inspired by some kind of game or mechanics or the idea of our competitors, but the game itself will be unique in any case, both in mechanics and in graphics. In addition, our team should primarily like the game too. After all, if inside you feel you are doing what you like – the game will be both memorable and unique.”

In its first year, ThunderSpin is driving innovation in a manner more suited to a creative film company or animation studio than to the typical world of reels and slots thanks to a reliance on the beauty of ideas combined with cutting-edge technology. When taking a game from idea to execution Jeff Letlat highlights how ideas can come from anywhere, whilst not mistaking that although some concepts might seem great to the team at the start, the true genius is knowing which ones to take right through to the end.

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“Every game in the beginning consists of an idea,” he said. “Most often, for starters, the idea consists of just one phrase. I want snails in the Wild West which becomes Snail Town. Or, let’s try to connect the slot with betting elements and it becomes World Cup Football Slot. The main difficulty is to combine a good idea with the resources available to us – technical, human, etc.”

One of the company’s latest games, Book of Treasures, is a prime example explains Jeff Letlat with ThunderSpin’s marketing department highlighting the need for a popular theme slot around a central theme. “Combining hunt for treasures and slots is interesting for our players in principle but the magic happens when our team start throwing ideas around. In this case, in the very first brainstorming session all of us sounded almost in chorus: ‘Mayan treasures!’ It’s the conceptualisation that our team thrives on.”

For ThunderSpin the regular working process consists of in-house game designers creating prototype mechanics, the Art Department’s conceptual sketches and a whole host of programmers, testers delivering details, narrative, etc. After this the project pushes into plans, sprints, deadlines, and an internal presentation to gain first impressions and feedback from colleagues. Detailed external R&D with the company’s partners and players follows which helps not just during creation but throughout the game’s release according to Jeff Letlat. “We try to listen carefully and consider all of this in the development process. We try to analyse as much as possible in different directions – both the duration of the sessions, and the betting strategies, and the players’ returns to their favourite games. And where do they click with the mouse in game clients and much more. Each of our already released games is constantly monitored and analysed, so that we can make each next game more interesting and attractive for our players.”

“With development feedback, we listen to everyone,” he continued. “Whether it’s colleagues, business partners, or players, we analyse competitors, read reviews on the forums and our main focus is our players. Since consumers can be completely different – by gender, age, tastes and preferences – we try to make different games in order to adapt to the most diverse wishes of our players.”

The unique portfolio of games from ThunderSpin have all been developed with a strong focus on sound and visual to ensure a strong first impression of the game in the current market where every casino can offer thousands of slots. For Jeff Letlat, it’s all about that initial visual appeal and the most crucial attribute for a new concept is to ensure your game is entered into a casino at all. “The ability to stand out is essential so your game does not get lost among a huge pile of the same type and uniform slots,” he said. “When creating new concepts the development team are aware that both interesting mechanics and large payouts are all very important in terms of ROI but when developing an idea you can keep the player mechanics, volatility, payouts. To help the player decide to launch your slot for the first time, essentially the visual is King.”

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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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