Filippos Antonopoulos built Vermantia from a startup challenging the leading land-based and online gaming suppliers to part of the industry establishment, after Arena Racing Company (ARC) bought into the business. With a new venture in the payment sector now underway, he discusses how being a latecomer to a mature market is no barrier to growth.At a time when the retail betting industry’s prospects look bleaker than ever, Vermantia chief executive Filippos Antonopoulos (pictured) argues the future couldn’t be brighter. He says the supplier, an omni-channel content provider focused on bringing live content and games into shops, has seen revenue grow by up to 40% in recent years.Having sold a majority stake in the business to Arena Racing Company, he’s aiming to double and treble revenue in the coming years.It’s a bullish stance, but looking at Vermantia’s history, Antonopoulos has a habit of bucking trends. For example, the business was only established in 2007, at a time when the migration of customers online was well underway, and suppliers were focusing energies on what was then an emerging channel.Antonopoulos, however, looked at the shops and saw gold.There were a number of factors in play, he explains: “We’re talking about an era, between 2005 to 2014, when first of all the betting platforms were starting to be scalable, they could accept live betting. Second, you started to see the ascendance of virtual sports, which was good TV. And then you had UK racing predominantly, but racing in general, starting to eat up its margins.“Racing is driven by TVs in licensed betting offices (LBOs), and then you have a whole parallel factor that you started to see total audience erosion, with customers moving first online then to mobile.”This, he explains, made the traditional betting shop having to make itself “sexier, more flexible, and offering a multitude of products”.This meant that each LBO would no longer be profitable with punters coming through the doors a few days each week. To increase visitation, the UK industry largely appears to have set on B2 gaming machines, or fixed odds betting terminals, as the solution. We all know how that went.Blessing in disguise The situation the industry now finds itself in, he argues, is down to communication problems.“Behind the scenes, I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by a few guys that led LBOs for many years, and they told me this would not have happened in the older days,” he says.Previously, Antonopoulos explains, there was better communication between the bookmakers and politicians.“The early warnings of public frustration would go up to the MPs and towards one or two responsible for carrying this communication to the industry,” he says. “The sector would listen, and instead of being driven by financial results, would have taken action.”Vermantia came into existence after Antonopoulos saw value in offering a full range of live streamed content through a single integration, complemented by virtuals and instant win games. This is all well and good, but with GVC alone to close 900 shops to mitigate the stake cut, what use are these solutions if there are no shops to put them in?Yet for Antonopoulos, the stake cut is a “blessing in disguise” for Vermantia. It had been working towards developing a new, cashless retail betting experience for customers. With the loss of machines and operators in need of more bodies through the door, it can deploy this technology for operators looking to improve their retail estate, speeding up the adoption process.After all, he adds, betting shops were profitable before the advent of FOBTs. “So I cannot entirely say that the industry itself is left hanging on a limb and the blame is entirely on the political side.”What operators should be doing instead is asking what they can do to turn a profit with the maximum £2 stakes in place.Carpet bombing He argues that rather than fight legislative action, it’s up to the industry to work together, making concessions where necessary, to avoid further changes.“When things come to the point that the regulator feels the need to legislate, that’s the equivalent of carpet bombing,” he says. “If you’re at the point of regulating, not legislating, you can do targeted bombing, rather than carpet bombing. If the industry starts a discussion, you can reach actual conclusions and separate things out.”Going beyond cross-sector cooperation, he says, suppliers and operators must spread out. Gaming businesses today must be able to do a range of different things, rather than be focused on a single product, vertical or channel.“Back in the day you could be a one-trick pony and still make a good living, now you need to be a jack of all trades,” Antonopoulos explains.“There is also a complete breakdown of geographical barriers. Now you need to tick a lot of boxes, and compete against others in your home market, so you don’t have a home base with protected margins. That’s bad for the suppliers, but good for the operators.”This in turn makes having a diverse customer base across a number of markets crucial. Vermantia is currently active in more than 30 markets, and being able to spread risk means headwinds in one market are less likely to derail growth. “Whether or not the advertising ban (in Italy) or if the FOBT cut (in the UK) hadn’t happened, it doesn’t change our strategy, because we are able to absorb this into our P&L, as we are doing very good business in Eastern Europe,” Antonopoulos says by way of an example.Read Part Two here. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Casino & games Interview: Filippos Antonopoulos, Vermantia – Part 1 Filippos Antonopoulos built Vermantia from a startup challenging the leading land-based and online gaming suppliers to part of the industry establishment, after Arena Racing Company (ARC) bought into the business. With a new venture in the payment sector now underway, he discusses how being a latecomer to a mature market is no barrier to growth. Topics: Casino & games Legal & compliance People Sports betting Strategy Video gaming 19th August 2019 | By contenteditor AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Regions: Europe UK & Ireland Tags: Mobile Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Video Gaming Email Address
Gaming businesses owned by Native American tribes have reported a 4.1% year-on-year increase in gross gaming revenue, to a record $33.72bn, in 2018. Gaming businesses owned by Native American tribes have reported a 4.1% year-on-year increase in gross gaming revenue, to a record $33.72bn, in 2018.Figures from the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) combine 501 independently-audited financial statements, provided by 241 federally recognised tribes across 29 states to provide figures for the entire US tribal gaming market.These reveal that the Sacramento region, comprising California and northern Nevada, was the largest regional contributor. It alone accounted for $9.28bn of total GGR (up 3.1% from 2017), from 73 facilities. This growth came despite one venue closing during the year.Rapid City (North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming) was the only other region to see tribal gaming venues shuttered in 2018, with the total number of active facilities falling from 39 to 36.Read more on iGB North America. Regions: US Tribal gaming operators set new revenue record in 2018 Topics: Casino & games Finance Tribal gaming AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Email Address Casino & games 13th September 2019 | By Daniel O’Boyle
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 24th September 2019 | By contenteditor Norway’s state-owned totalisator betting business Norsk Rikstoto has proposed establishing a mandatory monthly spending limit for all customers, with the country’s gambling regulator speaking out in favour of the proposal. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Tags: Mobile Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Race Track and Racino Horse racing Regions: Europe Nordics Norway Norsk Rikstoto proposes spending cap for players Topics: Legal & compliance People Sports betting Horse racing Norway’s state-owned totalisator betting business Norsk Rikstoto has proposed establishing a mandatory monthly spending limit for all customers, with the country’s gambling regulator speaking out in favour of the proposal.Should the cap be implemented, players would be able to bet and lose no more than NOK20,000 (£1,779/€2,019/$2,222) every 30 days. However, players could roll over any balance left at the end of this period for up to 90 days, meaning they could in theory spend NOK60,000 in 30 days every three months.Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet (Lotteritilsynet) has backed the move, with director Henrik Nordal describing it as a “safety net” for those that cannot control their gambling.While Nordal acknowledged that critics have claimed the mandatory spending cap would significantly reduce revenue for Norway’s horse racing sector, he argued that protecting players took precedence over growing income for the industry.“We see the need to clarify [Norsk Rikstoto’s] role here,” he said. “Norsk Rikstoto’s main duty is to provide a safe and responsible way to gamble. “That the horse racing industry benefits from its profits is a consequence, and not a reason, as to why it is one of the few operators licensed to offer real-money gambling in Norway.”Nordal also dismissed the suggestion of making an exception for high-spending gamblers, arguing that they were as much at risk of problems as those spending lower sums.“The high-spending players are gambling too much, and they are losing a lot,” he said. “They are as much at risk of developing problems as other players, and Norsk Rikstoto has not provided evidence to suggest the opposite.“It would therefore be irresponsible to create a special scheme for these players were they can overspend,” he explained.However, Lotteritilsynet can only make recommendations on whether the proposal should be brought into effect, with the Norwegian Ministry of Agriculture and Food to make the final decision. Should it accept Norsk Rikstoto’s proposal, the mandatory limits would come into effect from 1 January, 2020.Norsk Tipping, the only other operator licensed to offer real-money gambling in Norway, has already introduced a NOK20,000 spending cap for players. It has since further tightened its responsible gaming controls by blocking players from spending winnings above NOK20,000.This was followed by the launch of a new feature in July, which showed online players their recent gambling activity upon logging into their accounts. Email Address
Topics: People Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Covid 19: what next for igaming employers? 7th April 2020 | By Stephen Carter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Email Address Business must go on. Even despite the widespread ‘shutdowns’ to daily life worldwide, the usual evolution of careers and companies continues, and employers will still need to hire new people where they are required to keep operations going, and growing. High-skilled candidates are now available for hire. The circumstances are clearly far from ideal, but the ‘talent market’ has now swung in employers’ favour. After years where employers have struggled to fill many specialist roles, now could even present something of an opportunity. “The most far sighted HR-ers are already looking beyond the flattened curve,” according to The Economist last week. “For a savvy HR chief it’s the perfect opportunity.”The igaming sector, we firmly believe, has the creativity, resilience and core strength to weather this storm.We’ve already been heartened to see many employers committed to not only their existing staff, but also extending opportunities to new candidates. People – good people – will be critical if the industry is to come out of this stronger. The challenges: remote-ness and reductions It is without doubt that the challenges this market presents for employers in every sector, including igaming, are great. HR bosses and business leaders will be focusing on: Availability of talent across the board has increased, creating significantly more choice for employers. Hard-to-fill roles (such as those requiring specialist skills or languages) will now become easier to source for. The best candidates won’t be immediately on the market, but may be more open to considering something new, given the circumstances. Remote workers – such as those in tech and sales – can be hired for roles now regardless of location. Even after this crisis lifts, work can still be conducted remotely. Entire new functions of businesses are rapidly adapting to remote working practices. This change needn’t be temporary, so employers could benefit from hiring remote staff, thereby overcoming previous geographical barriers to hiring. World-class leadership talent with specialist industry experience (a rare find in normal times) will become available for hire.Plus, it’s also easier than ever to arrange confidential discussions with candidates, who are – by necessity – largely working from home, away from colleagues and bosses.Cara Kerr is head of Europe for Pentasia, where she leads the sales team and oversees strategy for the gambling recruitment specialist on the continent. She focuses on non-technical hires, in marketing, product, analytics, sales, business, development, account management and legal and compliance, from entry to director level. Recruitment may not be the first item on the agenda for employers at the moment but for those in a position to take a long-term approach, the market has resoundingly turned in their favour, writes Cara Kerr People Prioritising existing employees’ jobs Maintaining the strongest possible staff base for current and future circumstances Enabling all possible operations to continue on a remote, working-from-home, basis Conducting full recruitment processes onlineUltimately, the challenge of preserving existing employees’ jobs takes absolute priority.This has been the focus of businesses so far, with many introducing significant measures – including the foregoing of bonuses, temporary furloughing and salary reductions – to avoid making workforce reductions.Practically, too, HR bosses and business leaders are rapidly adapting to conducting entire operations on a remote basis. Some businesses are more adaptable than others to this way of working, but even those for whom ‘remote-only’ is possible in theory must ensure that communications, team unity and productivity remain carefully managed. Interview processes for new positions will, for the time being, need to be conducted entirely by video link. Whilst for many (mostly tech and sales) this is nothing new, running full hiring processes in this manner will require a leap of faith for some.The opportunity: hire top talent now It may sound counter-intuitive, but for those in a position to take a long-term approach, now is truly a strategic opportunity to hire and grow.For years, demand for talent has far outstripped supply and employers have fought hard to attract staff and grow teams. Now though (through circumstances self-evidently far from ideal), the market has resoundingly turned: job vacancies are now significantly outnumbered by available candidates. For those who can make the stretch, this “employer’s market” for talent offers an unseen-in-recent-times opportunity to make world-class hires. To summarise the current opportunities for employers: Recruitment may not be the first item on the agenda for employers at the moment but for those in a position to take a long-term approach, the market has resoundingly turned in their favour, writes Cara Kerr.Who can tell what the next few months will bring? For HRs and business leaders, the future is about as uncertain as it’s ever been.Priority, quite rightly, has first been placed on protecting workers amidst often significant threats to business, and thankfully many thousands of industry jobs have been saved worldwide. But what comes next?Recruitment may not be the first item on an igaming employers’ agenda. In fact, recruitment freezes or delayed processes have already slowed the market considerably.As we consider the path ahead, though, two factors will play an important role in bringing recruitment plans back to the forefront: Tags: Online Gambling
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter HeadsUp resurfaces with igaming acquisition in “final stages” 29th July 2020 | By Daniel O’Boyle Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Topics: Casino & games Finance Poker HeadsUp Entertainment – the former owners of the Canadian Poker Tour – said it is in the “final stage” of negotiations to acquire an online betting and gaming business. Regions: Canada Tags: Card Rooms and Poker Online Gambling Casino & games HeadsUp Entertainment – the former owners of the Canadian Poker Tour – said it is in the “final stage” of negotiations to acquire an online betting and gaming business.In the business’ first update in three years, it revealed that is in the final stages of a deal to acquire between 50% and 100% of the shares of a “a licensed online sportsbook and online casino platform”. It aims to sign a letter of intent related to the acquisition in the coming two weeks.While it has not yet named the business in question, it described it as an operator that “has processed over $110.0m in wagers and reported over $5.2m in revenue in the past four years”.In addition, HeadsUp said its management has targeted a second possible acquisition as well as a licensing agreement with a global media partner.Read more on iGB North America Email Address
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter “Integrating live streaming services from IMG Arena will help take our online sports betting offering to the next level,” Misli chief executive Burak Simsek said. “IMG Arena has a world-class portfolio of sporting rights and their properties are proven to drive the acquisition and retention of customers.” Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter 13th October 2020 | By Robert Fletcher Under the agreement, Misli customers will be able to live stream sports events after placing a bet. IMG Arena’s portfolio of content includes football, basketball and table tennis. Regions: Turkey IMG Arena has added number of new sports and events to its portfolio in recent months, after striking deals with World Table Tennis and the Brazilian Liga Nacional de Basquete. “The deal allows Turkish players to safely and significantly improve their betting experience by increasing access to engaging, official content and watching more of the sports live that they are betting on.” Topics: Sports betting IMG Arena scores streaming deal with Turkey’s Misli Sports betting IMG Arena commercial director Andrew Corser added: “We are delighted to partner with Misli.com, one of Turkey’s leading and longest-established sports betting licensees. Licensed by Spor Toto Teşkilat Başkanlığı, Misli is one of a limited number of regulated online sports betting operators in Turkey, offering national pools betting and a range of markets on domestic and international sport. Tags: Sports Betting Streaming Turkey IMG Arena Misli Email Address IMG Arena, sports betting data division of sports media giant IMG, has agreed a deal to provide streaming services to Turkish operator Misli.com.
The FA stated that while the ban ran from 21 December 2020 until 28 February 2021, Trippier was still effectively serving the ban while being permitted to play in Spain, which it argued was against the spirit of the sanction. Sports betting Trippier was initially charged with misconduct by England’s Football Association (FA) in May last year, after he was found to have breached its betting rules in a case related to his move from Premier League Tottenham Hotspur to Atlético Madrid in Spain’s La Liga. 19th January 2021 | By Robert Fletcher Fifa, football’s global governing body, has rejected an appeal over a ban issued to England international footballer Kieran Trippier for breaching betting rules, meaning the defender’s ban will once again apply globally. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Tags: Football Fifa Kieran Trippier FA Atlético appealed this aspect of the ban, arguing it could only be enforced in England, and as such the global suspension was halted on 2 January while the appeal was considered. Trippier had already missed three games to that point. However, the panel rejected this request, saying only Fifa could determine if the ban should be global. Fifa had initially stated that the ban would be enforced worldwide, meaning that while it was issued by the English FA, it would mean Trippier would be banned from playing for Atlético in Spain. To address this, the FA launched an appeal to “revise the dates” so that the ban could apply either when Fifa allowed it to be enforced globally again, or when Trippier returns to an English club, whichever came sooner. Topics: Sports betting Atlético said it intends to take the case to CAS. If CAS agrees to hear the case, Trippier will be able to continue playing until a decision is reached. Regions: UK & Ireland Spain The FA issued Trippier with a 10-week suspension, ruling he breached FA Rule E8(1)(b), which bars players from disclosing information about potential transfers. Fifa rejects Atlético appeal over Trippier betting ban The Fifa Appeal Committee has now ruled that the FA ruling may be applied globally. As such, Trippier will not be able to play in Spain until the full 10-week suspension ends on 28 February. However, the sanction could be suspended again – allowing Trippier to play for his club in Spain – if the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hears a further appeal. This came into force from 21 December 2020, but was this month reduced to four weeks after a personal hearing. A fine of £70,000 (€78,612/$95,275) remained in place. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Email Address
The MGA collected €24.6m in online gambling tax during the half, the highest six-monthly total since the second half of 2018, when €24.9m was paid by licensees. Slots were the most popular form of online gambling for type 1 games, with 77.4% of gaming revenue generated via these games in H1, compared to 18.4% on table game and 4.2% other games. Published in its Interim Performance Report, covering the six months to 30 June 2020, the figures showed that the MGA issued a total of 20 notices of regulation breaches in H1, as well as 11 warnings. Finance The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has revealed that it cancelled seven licences in the first half of 2020, while it contacted a number of other gambling operators in relation to breaches of its rules and regulations. Malta regulator cancels seven licences in H1 of 2020 Some nine administrative fines were handed out to operators, while two licences were suspended by the regulator. The number of active player online accounts climbed 11.8% year-on-year to 17.2m, while new active player accounts also increased 12.3% to 7.6m. Tags: Malta Gaming Authority The report also included online gambling figures for the period, with some 303 licences issued. A total of 196 were B2C gaming licences, while 111 were B2B critical supply licences. In terms of Malta’s National Lottery, sales fell 36.5% year-on-year to €30.7m in H1, with operations again hampered by Covid-19 closures. A total of €4.0m was collected in gaming tax from National Lottery operations, down 34.4% on 2019. Analysing the performance of the market as a whole, the MGA said a total of 313 companies were active by the end of H1, operating via 318 licences. Some 8,009 people were employed across the industry – 7,196 online and 813 in land-based gaming – and operators paid €33.7m in tax, down 16.3% year-on-year. In terms of land-based gambling, casinos took a hit due to the temporary closure of facilities as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). Player visits slipped 54.6% year-on-year to 192,351, while new player registrations fell 64.1% to 26,176. 12th February 2021 | By Robert Fletcher Topics: Casino & games Finance Lottery Sports betting Bingo Land-based casino Online casino Online sports betting Email Address Among the operators that had their licences cancelled in H1 were bSupporter, Pick Mater, Dorobet, The Daily Fantasy Football Company and Watch World Luxury, a Malta-based watch retailer. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Land-based casinos paid a total of €3.9m in tax during the first half, less than half the €8.0m contributed in the same period in 2019. Controlled gaming premises also took a hit in H1 due to Covid-19 measures, with player visits down 39.3% and tax contribution falling 42.0%. Commercial bingo player visits also decreased 54.1% to 38,190, with tax payment down 52.3% to €118,344. Regions: Malta Some 74.8% of online sports betting revenue came through football wagering in the period, while peer-to-peer poker was by far the most popular form of gaming in Type 3, accounting for 90.8% of revenue in this category. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter In terms of financial settlements, Blackrock Media agreed to pay a penalty of €2.3m (£2.0m/$2.8m) for operating a gaming service without the necessary authorisation.
12th February 2021 | By Conor Mulheir Tags: Entain “These new partnerships are initial steps in this and other new directions as we both expand our offer to customers and the protections we put in place to protect the very small number who may be at risk.” Responsible gambling The operator said its strategy for sustainability and growth underscores its commitment to delivering the highest possible levels of player safety and protection across all its markets. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter In January, the operator appointed Jette Nygaard-Andersen as its new chief executive, after Shay Segev stepped down from the role to become co-CEO for sports streaming platform, Dazn. Entain expands RG partnerships into esports and video gaming Topics: Esports Social responsibility Problem gambling Responsible gambling “The vast majority of people enjoy playing for fun and have no problems whatsoever, and we want to leverage our capabilities to offer them additional experiences whilst keeping all our customers safe.” EPIC, the CSPPA and mental health bodies Kindbridge and Rise Above the Disorder will provide mental health support services and education for players potentially at risk, and will work internationally with Entain and the company’s non-profit charity, the Entain Foundation. Industry giant Entain has expanded its partnership with EPIC Risk Management and formed new partnerships with the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association (CSPPA), and two mental health groups in order to extend its responsible gambling initiatives to video gaming and esports. The association aims to safeguard, protect and promote professional Counter-Strike players’ interests, working to secure the best possible working conditions for the players. The CSPPA is the worldwide association for professional players of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive video game, which is among the world’s most popular esports titles. As part of its safer gambling strategy, the Entain Foundation supports customer protection through a mix of education and support projects, as well as research and data analysis. Email Address “We are committed to supporting initiatives that encourage responsible gambling and gaming in every way we can,” Martin Lycka, senior vice president for American regulatory affairs and responsible gambling, and trustee of the Entain Foundation US, said. GVC Holdings rebranded as Entain in December last year, after the proposal was overwhelmingly supported by its shareholders. Rise Above the Disorder (RAD) is a non-profit universal mental health care system, covering the cost of mental health care for tens of thousands of people around the world. RAD has been celebrated by the United Nations for having helped over 36,000 people receive free mental health support. Each of its new partner organisations seeks to bridge the gap between demand and availability of affordable professional, individual therapy and care, the operator said. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter EPIC Risk Management is an international consultancy specialising in the prevention of gambling-related harm, and already works with Entain. Its partnership will now be expanded to address video gaming and esports. Kindbridge is the world’s first teletherapy company focused specifically on the treatment of gamblers and gamers struggling with their mental health. The US-based mental health services organisation provides access to online professional mental health counsellors and specialised support services.
Michael Blocksberg is serving as chief operating officer of BettHouse, with Matt Birnbach as chief strategy officer, and George Burkhardt as chief financial officer. Read the full story on iGB North America. BettHouse has secured market access in Iowa and is scheduled to debut in the state next month, with plans in place to also go live in a number of other states before the end of the year. Sports betting Tags: BettHouse AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter BettHouse’s senior team includes chief executive Steve Berman, who has spent 25 years working in US sports betting and igaming, as well as president and founder Nitin Jain. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Topics: Sports betting Online sports betting Email Address BettHouse launches new funding round ahead of US debut 9th March 2021 | By Robert Fletcher Regions: US Iowa Headquartered in Las Vegas, BettHouse will operate on the Bet.Works platform and also utilise the Simplebet micro-betting pricing engine. Start-up online sports betting operator BettHouse has announced a new funding round ahead of its launch in the US market.