Hot copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector
Camelot to defend its kingdom
The Telegraph appeared to have quite the scoop on Wednesday as it suggested UK National Lottery operator Camelot was set to retain its licence as it had secured the preliminary endorsement of the Gambling Commission.
Apparently Camelot had come up trumps on a scorecard designed to judge the merits of bids in the tender process, alongside competition from Italian lottery giant Sisal, pan-European Allwyn and the largest lottery operator in India, Sugal & Damani.
The Telegraph claimed the Gambling Commission had passed its scorecard to UK Government Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, who took an admirable stand today by saying she would “probably” withdraw her support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson “if he went out and kicked a dog”, presumably relating to the fallout of West Ham defender Kurt Zouma volleying his poor pet cat last week.
Anyway, the Gambling Commission was quick to rebuke the Telegraph’s claims yesterday, stating that “we are still in the process of evaluation and today’s Daily Telegraph piece is simply based on false and inaccurate information” – that’s them told, then.
US firms prepare for Super-Duper Bowl this weekend
Operators stateside are preparing themselves for the biggest ever Super Bowl on Sunday as the Cincinnati Bengals face down the Los Angeles Rams (thanks, Google).
According to the American Gaming Association, a record 31.4m Americans plan to place a bet on the big fixture, with the best estimates claiming some $7.6bn will be wagered on the main event.
The Rams appear to be slight favourites, with 55% of bettors planning to back the team. More importantly, perhaps, 76% said it was important for them personally to bet through a legal operator – an increase of 11% compared to last year.
“The results are clear: Americans have never been more interested in legal sports wagering,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AGA.
“The growth of legal options across the country not only protects fans and the integrity of games and bets, but also puts illegal operators on notice that their time is limited.”
Playtech in the press again
Rumours abound for Playtech, whose Latin American partner Caliplay is close to completing a SPAC acquisition on the New York Stock Exchange, according to The Times.
Speculators are apparently suggesting that if the business “gets off to a flying start” as a public entity, Playtech could end up converting revenues from its partnership with the operator into a 39% stake in the new business – worth as much as $700m.
Meanwhile, The Guardian went to press on Monday with a denouncement of Playtech’s newly signed five-year deal with the Jockey Club as horseracing increasingly looks to iGaming to top up diminishing revenues.
The result of the deal will be cross-sell opportunities, the piece said, or to put it less gently: “The Jockey Club flogging Playtech some racing-themed wrapping paper for software that mechanically grinds a fixed percentage of turnover from its users”.
The piece argues for stronger distinctions to be drawn between betting and gaming, decrying a blurring of the lines which has led to the cross-promotion of online casino and sports betting products to customers.
The “grubby and cynical” practice should be stopped, according to author Greg Wood, who strongly recommends the government consider “alcohol-style regulation for betting and a tobacco-style regime for gaming” in its ongoing Gambling Act review.