PressEnter Group, known for its innovative spirit, today announces a game-changing partnership with Flows, a leading no-code automation platform.

This collaboration, set to go live today is a pivotal step in PressEnter Group’s commitment to driving innovation and excellence in the online gaming industry.

Aligning with PressEnter Group’s ethos of ‘Dare to do it’ and ‘Strive for excellence’, this partnership enables the Group’s iGaming brands to leverage Flows’ advanced automation technology, enhancing operational efficiency and customer engagement without the complexities of traditional coding.

Raymond Saliba, head of technical management at PressEnter Group said: “We are excited about our partnership with Flows. This collaboration is not just a technological leap it’s a strategic move aligning with our mission to constantly innovate and provide superior gaming experiences.

“We anticipate this partnership to bring forward unique gaming solutions, setting new standards in the industry.”

This strategic alliance is a testament to PressEnter Group’s forward-thinking approach, ensuring the Group remains at the cutting edge of the iGaming industry.

With a license from the Malta Gaming Authority and rooted in Malta, PressEnter Group is poised for significant growth and innovation. 

James King, CEO of Flows, said: “It’s a great moment for us at Flows to have PressEnter Group, a leading name in the iGaming industry, incorporate our no-code technology across their brands. This partnership is a testament to the industry’s growing recognition of our innovative approach and its potential to elevate the player experience.

“PressEnter Group’s decision to adopt our platform is reflective of our industry’s steps into a new era of enhanced engagement and efficiency. We are eagerly anticipating the waves of innovation that our collaboration will unlock within their portfolio of brands – exciting times ahead.”

The Netherlands Gaming Authority (KSA) has imposed fines totalling more than €26m across five different operators.

Which operators have been fined?

The penalties were handed down to each operator for allowing consumers in the Netherlands to gamble online with their services despite not being licensed in the country.

N1 Interactive was on the receiving end of the biggest fine at €12.64m for a repeated violation, after a fine had already been imposed by the KSA previously.

N1 said it categorically disagrees with the KSA’s considerations that led to the alleged violation as it had taken several measures to prevent participation from the Netherlands.

“Moreover, N1 feels the KSA has adopted an incorrect and baseless calculation to determine the amount of the fine, making it disproportionately high, which contradicts the legal basis for levying and calculating a fine under Dutch law,” said the operator in a statement.

N1 has objected to the ruling and has activated both administrative and judicial proceedings.

Then came the much-disputed and much-discussed penalty of €9.87m for Videoslots, which the operator has labelled “unlawful” and vowed to challenge in the courts.

In its case file, the KSA insisted Videoslots’ online gaming services were available to Dutch consumers, while the operator claims the KSA was only able to access the site after “mystery shopping” as a German consumer.

Why have the fines been described as unfair?

This method of investigation has been described as “absurd” and “a joke” by industry insiders on LinkedIn, while some have even called the process “entrapment”.

Videoslots bore the badge of a Dutch-licensed operator despite not being licensed, which despite not being ruled as a violation, was still considered an aggravating factor by the KSA, although the operator said the mistake was rectified swiftly.

The KSA, which was able to register an account and deposit with a Dutch IP address that was created from the Netherlands, has claimed that no technical measures were taken by Videoslots to prevent participants from the Netherlands from accessing its site.

By the KSA’s own admission, however, Videoslots had removed the sign-up option for Dutch phone numbers, so the regulator’s mystery consumer instead used a German one:

Videoslots will contest the ruling and CEO Alexander Stevendahl said it was “important to stand up for what’s right” in a LinkedIn post of his own.

The early reaction online suggests that Videoslots will have many industry allies by its side.

The letter Videoslots sent in response to the KSA said: “The report was drawn up carelessly, is not objective and is unclear in a general sense. There is no actual assessment of the factual findings against the legal and policy framework; scary.”

The KSA uses annual turnover from the Netherlands to determine the scale of its fines. It is unclear which number was used for Videoslots, which is privately owned and unlicensed in the Netherlands.

According to Videoslots, their turnover figure was determined “incorrectly and carelessly” by the regulator.

Will the fines be challenged?

BP Group Limited, which trades as PressEnter Group, also received a fine of €1.79m, while Probe Investments (€1.13m) and Fairload Limited (€900k) completed the set.

In the case of PressEnter, the KSA said it was able to make a deposit of €10 from a Dutch bank account and that “Netherlands” was offered as a drop-down option at several stages during the sign-up process.

In a statement provided to iGaming NEXT, PressEnter said it disputes the basis of the fine as well as the KSA’s investigation.

KSA chair René Jansen: “We mean business. Player safety is paramount. A fine is to hit where it hurts, so in the wallet.”

“As soon as the company received notification from the KSA of a possible breach, the company took immediate action and adopted a strict interpretation,” said a spokesperson.

PressEnter has also pledged to challenge the decision and will pursue legal action to obtain clarity if necessary.

The KSA reiterated that offering online gambling to players in the Netherlands is only permitted with a licence, and that strict rules apply to ensure there is a safe legal offer where players are assured of a fair game and are protected against gambling addiction.

KSA chair René Jansen said: “We mean business. Player safety is paramount. A fine is to hit where it hurts, so in the wallet.”

“When times are good, you just throw headcount at it,” says one big name gambling CEO when asked what the hell is going on.

Why is everyone being laid off?

Gambling companies are often hot on the heels of leading tech companies when it comes to following the latest trends and developments. Only this time, the trend is a negative one.

Amazon is intending to lay off 18,000 workers. Twitter, Microsoft, Google and every Silicon Valley darling you can think of have also cut staff over the last six months. Flutter Entertainment, Hero Gaming, PressEnter and Genesis Global are just a handful of gambling firms to have followed suit.

This “trimming of the fat” is primarily because digital companies exploded during the Covid-19 pandemic and had to significantly increase headcount to meet customer demand.

Now that demand has dried up because people have gone back out into the real world. At the same time, the economy is putting a squeeze on everything and the light at the end of the tunnel looks likely to be a train.

During the depths of the pandemic, iGaming NEXT has learned that some gambling companies would hoard developers. Talented tech staff are few and far between, so if one became available, they would get snapped up for a rainy day, even if they were surplus to requirements at the time.

Such a frivolous approach has become harder to justify. With that said, leading online betting and gaming recruitment agency Pentasia insists recent high-profile tech layoffs have not affected the global demand for tech talent.

Is demand up or down?

Intensity and competition have actually increased, if anything: “As the fear of missing out on talent grips the market, we see clients adopting a more streamlined approach to hiring,” said Pentasia in a January Talent Market Update.

“Gone are the days of four to five stages. We’re now seeing jobs offered after just one interview. While this is still uncommon, two or three interviews is the sweet spot for securing a role.”

Tech roles are likely to be the most secure, then, but almost all others are under careful consideration because for once, gambling firms are feeling the strain. Once considered recession proof – and then recession resilient – their online gaming armour appears weaker by the day.

For public companies, investors take a magnifying glass to every penny spent and demand an explanation. For private companies, shedding staff is sometimes required simply to stay afloat.

Former Bally’s CEO Lee Fenton was the first iGaming executive to say the quiet part out loud.

When the Bally Bet operator slashed 15% of its US digital division workforce amid mounting losses, Fenton said: “The pandemic boosted our business and we continued to hire at full pelt. I now can see that we may have over hired in some areas, and I take full responsibility for that.”

While job losses undoubtedly come at a great human cost, investors often look favourably upon them. It shows that companies are taking their spring cleaning seriously as they look to get the balance sheet in order before results day. We are currently in the depths of Q4 season, don’t forget.

The best example of this recently was DraftKings. The US operator – which is second for market share in the US behind FanDuel having lost more than $3.5bn on OSB to date – sacked 140 employees in January. Its share price duly soared by 10%.

There is no room for sympathy on the stock market.

Ben Fried, head of betting and gaming at global executive search firm SRI, has been following this trend for a while. “A lot of these companies ramped up because demand through the pandemic had gone up as they were adapting to new market realities,” Fried tells iGaming NEXT. His favoured example is one outside of gaming, with online car retailer Cazoo.

Cazoo was convinced it had conquered the market by promising to deliver new cars direct to customer doorsteps. But then the dealerships reopened, and it became clear that people wanted to drive a car before buying one. Who knew?

The cost of consolidation

Over hiring is not the only factor that has caused these gambling companies to swell. Consolidation is a constant in our industry. Every time a deal completes, there is a risk that two people are employed for one job. Something has to give, although that hasn’t always been the case, according to Fried.

When Flutter Entertainment set out to become the biggest corporate bookmaker in the UK by swallowing up the likes of Sky Bet and Paddy Power Betfair, each brand had its own CEO and continued to operate almost as separate entities.

Fried – a former Betfair manager himself – thinks back to that time: “I said aren’t you going to synergise the business? I was told there was no immediate need as they were growing and making money, so there was no need to create these cost synergies.

“I think the problem is that has now changed,” he adds.

And it has changed quite significantly. Flutter was arguably ahead of the curve on this topic. As exclusively reported by iGaming NEXT last summer, the operator committed to making sizeable redundancies across its UK & Ireland division following an internal review. Was the writing on the wall?

Clear Edge Malta’s Luke Imeson: “There are more candidates available with recent redundancies, but companies are more hesitant to hire.”

The operator said the UK’s operating landscape had changed by such a degree that it was forced to respond to the “more challenging” external environment. “Now they’ve created a more streamlined and efficient structure as far as I understand it,” says Fried.

The recent combination of 888 and William Hill has created similar unrest. The joining of two culturally opposed leadership teams (one online Israel and the other retail UK) means there are not only two people vying for one position, but also two vastly different executional management styles. Potentially a case of too many cooks in the kitchen?

888 made a host of cuts across its Israeli tech office a matter of weeks before CEO Itai Pazner was ousted for very different reasons, while Ulrik Bengtsson, the last permanent CEO of William Hill, departed before the deal was done.

“Those people will look very good on paper,” says Fried, commenting on the casualties. Indeed, the CEO at the top of this piece can attest to that. A leading recruitment specialist told him recently that he has never seen so many C-level CVs on the market.

“Even when we put out roles now, we get super senior CVs sent to us on mass,” says the anonymous chief exec. “It is definitely shifting to become the employer’s market.”

Were gaming companies too trusting?

Another driver behind this “Covid correction” is that it arguably takes far longer for employers to realise their employees are not up to scratch in a remote or hybrid working environment. Was this easier to gauge while working alongside each other in an office? Are companies now paying the price for putting too much trust in some of their staff?

On this point, the majority of newcomers during the pandemic were hired with a specific job to do. What if those jobs have now been completed?

“I think some big companies have realised that a lot of these people they hired, they no longer need,” says Luke Imeson, iGaming business manager and director at Clear Edge Malta. “A lot of these tasks have already been fulfilled, whether it be creating a new product, launching a new brand, or entering new markets. They then have the perfect excuse [to get rid].”

Imeson, a former customer experience manager at William Hill, is more closely aligned with our secret CEO than he is with Pentasia. He says: “We’ve been in a massively candidate driven market over the last year. There have been a lot of jobs open and very few candidates available to choose from.

“Now we are in a situation where there are more candidates available with recent redundancies, but companies are more hesitant to hire,” he adds, before reiterating that iGaming is a highly robust industry.

So in conclusion, iGaming companies are hesitant to hire but trigger happy. This is a dangerous combination for employees, who now find themselves in an unusually precarious position.

As the power shifts back to our employers, we should ask one question. Does my contribution justify my salary?

If the answer to that question is no, then strap in, because 2023 could be a very bumpy ride.