How to restart the gambling industry in the United States and Canada? The first Sports Betting and Casino Summit North America, online of course, will talk about it, in June, 23-24.
Global Daily Fantasy Sports Inc. is pleased to announce that it has completed the purchase of Playgon Interactive Inc. from its shareholders.
After 3 months of lockdown, the land-based gaming sector has now officially mostly took off, in Italy. From Abruzzo to Valle d’Aosta, here are the decrees launched by the Regions to (also) assure the relaunch of gaming activities, between June, the 15th and July, the 14th.
Between June, the 15th, and June, the 19th, many of the activities in the regions will become fully operational, with the exception of those in the province of Trento (July, the 14th) and Lazio, which at the moment must wait until July, the 1st, but which could see change the situation in the next few hours, following the protests of politics and workers, and above all the discussion table just opened in the Region.
As we write, the Province of Bolzano is missing, which is expected to legislate on the matter in the next few hours, while Marche signed the decree with which business can start again from Tuesday, June, the 16th.
But what are the rules that operators must follow to reopen safely and to avoid the fines?
Here, region by region, what the decrees approved for the implementation of the Prime Ministerial Decree of June, the 11th, provide for and the guidelines established by the Conference of the Regions.
WHO STARTS FROM JUNE, THE 15TH – In strict alphabetical order, we start from Abruzzo, with the decree signed by the governor Marco Marsilio, which specifies the protocols for gaming activities in a detailed attachment.
Same date for Basilicata and Campania, which in addition to the national rules has adopted a “Covid anti-diffusion security protocol” drawn up by the Crisis Unit of the Region which, among other things, prohibits customers from attending sports competitions and/or communications on monitors, in order to avoid gatherings, inside the premises of the betting centers.
Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardia, Molise, which issued its provision even before the Prime Ministerial Decree, Piemonte, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Umbria (here the guidelines) and the Valle d’Aosta are in accordance with the guidelines approved by the Conference of Regions and Autonomous Provinces,
Without forgetting the dean of all the Regions: Tuscany, which acted as a forerunner with the decree signed by the governor Enrico Rossi for the relaunch of gaming from June, the 13th.
WHO STARTS ON 19 – Calabria is among the “latecomers”, followed by Liguria, which relaunches slots, games, bingo and bets from June, the 19th, while it anticipates that of the Sanremo casino at 16.
In the same group, Emilia Romagna, which only allows the activity of arcades for minors from 15, and Veneto, which brings together slot rooms, arcades, bingo rooms and Casino di Venezia.
Lottery executives, direct beneficiaries of lottery funding and EU policymakers came together this week via an online webinar to discuss the role of national lotteries for the benefit of European society.
Italy starts again and online poker suffers the downturn, decreasing from 25 to 22% in poker tournaments and in the cash game going back to the levels of March 2020.
Quite predictable decline in May both in the poker tournament and in the cash game, given the reopening of the beginning of the month and the return to work of many Italians, who left the lockdown. MTTs recorded €164.9 million against 222.3 in the April 2020 peak. However, cash game decreased from 393.3 million in April to 305.7 in May.
Spending in May for tournaments is €14.3 million and for cash games around € 8.8 million. The contribution for the Treasury and the supply chain significantly drops in the month and now we are curious to see how it will stabilize in June, when the reopening will be final and we will also start to see the effects of the recovery of some live poker clubs. In tournaments, the drop is 25.8% while in the cash game the drop is of 22.2%
In any case, the numbers are similar to those of March, when all Italy was closed at home to counter the national and world health emergency. Tournaments in March collected 172.5 million and in cash the decline was more marked, given that 340.7 million of net movement had been recorded.
A decrease of 3.71 percentage points for PokerStars, who always leads the tournament while Sisal Poker gains significant ground, going from 6.17 to 6.86%. Snaitech is good too, rising from 5.69% to 6.63%. Obviously, the shares must be sized also on the basis of the restriction of the generated volume. Then we will deepen as iPoker and People’s Poker networks performed compared to the market. E-play24 is booming, going from 1.71% to 4.15% and Lottomatica also goes up, with a spending share of 3.54% from 3.15% in April. Bgame rises above the percentage point, while Oia Service (Betaland and Enjoybet) are stable at 0.28%. There was curiosity for the launch in full lockdown of partypoker, which took over the concessions of Gd Poker and Bwin Italia of the Gvc group and performed a 0.18%. As mentioned, it is difficult at this stage to be able to grow with the limits of Dl Dignity.
Per Jaldung, president of the European Casino Association, highlights the effort that will have to be made to deal with the economic consequences for the industry.
Ice North America becomes Digital and offers a series of interesting online events, in May, 11 – 15. All for free.
In the international Digital Panel of Gioconews.it, a first-level group of regulators analyzes the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the gaming sector and proposes a restart plan.
“In an emergency like the one we are experiencing today, it is crucial within the global gaming industry to look at the data to understand how things have gone and how the sector is evolving. We have seen growth in online casinos and other verticals, but we need to understand why. Certainly, operators must very quickly adapt to new opportunities and those mainly land-based must give always more importance to their digital section. I doubt, therefore, that these operators return to be just like before.”
This is the analysis by Heathcliff Farrugia, Ceo of the Malta Gaming Authority, who spoke at the GiocoNews.it Digital Panel with the main international gaming experts to naturally speak of the effects of Covid-19 on the sector (here, the full live streaming of the event).
According to Farrugia “it will be difficult to predict the future, many times we have seen decisions made without relying on some data and sure proofs and I believe that if we want to act well both from the point of view of the operator and the regulator, we must carefully analyze all the elements at disposal”. By focusing, in particular, on the need to work more and better to combat the illegal market: “To be honest – he adds – I believe that the whole system, therefore governments, regulators and all those involved, we focus too much energy on licensed and legal operators, forgetting – and sometimes it is potentially convenient not to admit it – that the black market exists. Indeed, there is a black market, which is huge and in a situation like this, where there are these restrictions, black market grows. But here there is no consumer protection, we have no idea what happens, we have no idea if there is responsible gaming, we have no idea if there is money laundering or not. Unfortunately, many times because of the black market that doesn’t have to implement a series of restrictions from different countries, they are able to give a better offer than that of legal operators because they have less costs to be managed”.
We are in a situation where, I would say, 80 percent of each country’s energy is concentrated on licensed operators, who pay taxes, who have all responsible gambling measures in place. And only 20 percent of the energy is aimed at illegal operators who bypass all regulations, who have not purchased licenses from anyone, who simply have apps to attract players. Sometimes, we don’t understand that in the online world, a player, most of the players, if he finds an online site, he bets on it and maybe even wins some money, and everything is fine for them. Without wondering if it is legal or not. As long as they get the money back, it’s all right for them. And unfortunately some of the black market companies become popular just based on this aspect. So in my opinion, we have to dedicate more energy or at least give the same importance in terms of restrictions to legal operators, but we have to dedicate the same energy in stopping the black market.”
Also Birgitte Sand, Iagr Patron for Denmark and with over 12 years of experience leading the Denmark gambling authority, thinks the same. “As regulators, we have never been more busy than today and I believe that all regulators in the world are working hard and aware of the changes taking place in the gaming world, ready for short and long term changes”.
“Data is undoubtedly the key and the support for the opening of the land-based market. In times of crisis it is important not to panic and not forget the long-term perspective. We have to stay connected, it is not a race but we have to find solutions on how to support the legal market and protect ourselves from illegal gaming”, Sand ends. “It is very important that regulators make choices, they can’t take care of everything, and that they stay together and support each other.”
“With Covid-19 we have to face a big problem. We know a lot but at the same time too little. We have to do research and find the best practices. Which direction should the industry take? I think it won’t change much”
Pieter Remmers, president of Assissa Consultancy Europe, a body that worked on responsible gaming policies and programs in many countries, focuses in particular on communication on social media – “a good means to stay in contact during the lockdown, but meeting people physically it is not the same”, he underlines – remembering that the United Kingdom has blocked advertising but that we should also” look at social media such as Facebook. The influence of advertising is limited, while the limits today don’t concern social networks, introducing ineffective restrictions”. And, often, even harmful ones, from the point of view of opposing illegality”.
As Andrea Rossi, Managing Director Southern Europe & Latam – Betsson Group/StarCasino, highlights, who in addition to explaining how the industry is working to cope with the emergency, also focuses on the issue of restrictions and legality. “
“I believe that, in handling an emergency, we really have to understand both sides and both points of view: the political and the commercial one. As an industry, we have probably been too ‘aggressive’ in the past, too commercial I would say, we never focused on what I like to call ‘brand strategy’. For example, in Italy with our Starcasino brand before the advertising ban was put in place, we had already decided to remove all bonuses and announcements. And honestly we haven’t seen a change in acquisitions: indeed, I have to say that we have increased acquisitions. And this makes me think: we are doing something that we probably believe is good for business, but in reality it is not. So I would like to put on the table the proposal to say: we have the possibility of promoting legal brands in an informative way, therefore in a way in which we can inform the customer more than pushing some offer, as in the end all the successful brands we see do, from nike to others. Advertising today must be built on how you perceive it in terms of transparency. This is the way I would like to discuss to be introduced into gaming, instead of going ahead with the bans. Therefore, let’s try to embrace different concepts by making our industry more mature in this sense. This may be the best opportunity, in my opinion”.
From the business point of view, however: “The crisis from Covid-19 has affected all operators, some more, especially betting operators, while those of online casinos have increased their activity. Our strategy has been to diversify the product and good casino activity” Rossi explains.” Sports betting is important to us but casinos can mitigate their decrease. People are more at home and looking for entertainment. Although we have seen an increase in new customers on our platform , we didn’t see an increase in the expense”.
The key points to move forward? “A strong (mutual) cooperation with regulators, a different way of communicating with customers, the differentiation of products, which will have to increase and be transversal, not just vertical. Unfortunately, there is also a risk that customers move to illegal operators, because of the ban on advertising”
According to Francesco Rodano, Playtech’s Chief Policy Officer, “Covid-19 has significantly changed our operating way and we are trying to learn a lot from this situation, which however remains very negative. This has shown that the human being can adapt to situations. In Playtech, we have intensified virtual programs and social responsibility towards consumers”.
Gaming data records a 30 percent fall in the sector and it means that even if the industry reacted very quickly, there was no total online transformation. There is greater attention from operators in this market, this is clear.
For this reason, also the approach to gaming by the players has changed: “Bingo and poker players, social gaming players in general have grown, to try more entertainment experience than this, compared to the strong emotions that pure gambling can give. And our intention is to continue protecting problematic players” Rodano continues.
Best practices to be absolutely maintained in order to also create a definitely more performing and social responsible industry: “We should use these attentions in the future in retail gambling too – the CPO of Playtech ends – there may be the risk that the revenues will hardly return to the levels of before, but this greater attention will lead to greater sustainability in the sector with players more attentive to entertainment and their spending power”.
The president of Glms, Ludovico Calvi, thinks the same way and highlights the necessary steps for gaming companies to adapt to the Covid-19 emergency. “Review organizational processes to adapt to existing needs.” This is what gaming companies will have to do according to Calvi. But it is also “important to carry out tax review programs, to allow companies to continue through a difficult year.” Attention also to the products that have a new momentum at present: “We must make esports solid. They are a great opportunity and there is a high rate of attention. What is the new normal? The human being has returned to the center of many companies. We also see how customer behavior has changed. We have also seen the increase in the level of compliance. Governments need to be careful about the degree of compliance. Data are the basis on which decisions will be taken. What do I think is important? We have never experienced anything like this and I don’t believe who is sure to exactly define what will happen, because it has never happened before. “
“It is important to create credibility – Calvi ends – and I warn, as licensed operators, that we must communicate with customers. I can see that we must supervise sports organizations more and we cannot lose credibility, not only in the world of gaming but also of sport. We must create credibility towards communication. We must be more careful about what happens in sport.”