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  • NeoGames appoints Virginia Lottery veteran Robert Wesley as VP

Online lottery and iGaming solutions provider NeoGames has hired former deputy executive director of the Virginia Lottery, Robert Wesley.

Wesley has joined the business as its new vice president of North American customer development, effective yesterday (1 August).

He joins NeoGames following an impressive 25-year tenure at the Virginia Lottery, which saw him undertake a series of key roles culminating in his position as deputy executive director of lottery, which he held between May 2022 and July 2023.

Prior to that role, Wesley acted as director of digital, director of sales, and interim marketing director, among a series of other roles since joining the state lottery as a senior programmer analyst in 1998.

Under his leadership, Virginia’s iLottery programme became the top-performing US online lottery less than three years after launching, according to NeoGames. 

Overall lottery sales in Virginia grew by 23% in the most recently completed fiscal year, it added.

In his new role, Wesley will lean on his experience to “serve as a resource to lotteries throughout North America that are interested in enhancing their interactive experience,” NeoGames said.

“Robert joining NeoGames is a major coup and sharing his expertise with our customers will undoubtedly help to grow their businesses.”

– NeoGames CEO Moti Malul

He will also assist and support the supplier’s existing customer base with best practices in the delivery and growth of their online lottery programmes and products.

“Robert is hugely respected within the lottery industry and has an incredible track record of delivering iLottery growth during his time with Virginia Lottery,” said NeoGames CEO Moti Malul.

“As we have consistently demonstrated, our iLottery offering is the industry leader and we want the right people to drive our efforts as we look to accelerate our customers’ success. 

“Robert joining NeoGames is a major coup and sharing his expertise with our customers will undoubtedly help to grow their businesses.” 

Wesley himself added: “It is a thrill to join NeoGames and work with such an impressive portfolio of lottery partners. 

“The North American iLottery market is one that continues to grow rapidly and NeoGames is in a prime position to support lotteries who are interested in enhancing the interactive gaming experience they offer. 

“I am excited by the new challenges that lie ahead and look forward to sharing my expertise with the NeoGames team and our lottery partners.” 

Global online operator 888 has been awarded a provisional sports betting licence by the Virginia Lottery, allowing it to offer wagering services to customers in the state.

The operator is expected to launch its SI Sportsbook in Virginia in 2022, it said, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group, which owns the Sports Illustrated brand.

In September, brand launched in Colorado, where more than $3.6bn has been processed in wagers since the online sports betting market launched in May 2020, generating more than $235m in GGR for licensed operators in the state.

Virginia’s legal online sports betting market launched in January of this year, and its state lottery, which acts as the sector’s regulator, has awarded 13 operating licences so far.

The latest figures released on Virginia’s sports betting market showed that operators in the state handled $293.9m in bets during September, while generating GGR of $30.9m.

888 now holds local licences or market-access agreements in a total of nine US states, with Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania joining the list alongside Virginia and Colorado.

“We are delighted to have been awarded our licence by the Virginia Lottery,” said Yaniv Sherman, SVP and head of US at 888.

“This is an important milestone for 888 which enhances our foothold in the US online sports betting and iGaming market. There is a growing sports betting fanbase in the state and I firmly believe that SI Sportsbook, supported by our partners at Sports Illustrated, will offer a unique and differentiated experience to our customers which will be well-received.”

The operator’s share price has seen a slight uptick today, sitting at the time of writing at £3.15, compared to £3.11 at market close yesterday.

The price has fallen sharply since 22 September, when it reached £4.78, and continued to decline after the release of the operator’s Q3 results in October, when the £4.16 price began to tumble further despite a 7% year-on-year revenue increase. 

The operator pointed out challenges in its Q3 trading update, including an expected $10m EBITDA hit caused by the withdrawal of its services to consumers from within the Netherlands.

Sports betting operator PointsBet has today (24 November) been awarded a temporary supplier licence by the Virginia Lottery, allowing it to offer online sports betting in the state.

The operator secured its licence through an exclusive partnership agreement with racetrack operator Colonial Downs Group, through which it submitted a joint application for licensure.

PointsBet also said it would use its position as official and exclusive sports betting partner of NBC sports to promote its brand in Virginia via the media giant’s television and digital assets.

As part of its agreement, NBC Sports provides PointsBet with year-round, multi-platform media and marketing opportunities across its portfolio of events, including exclusive gameday integrations across NBC Sports Washington, the regional broadcast home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals.

In addition, PointsBet’s full Spanish-language functionality will be advertised on NBC Sports’ Spanish-speaking Telemundo Deportes and Telemundo broadcast stations.

“Being awarded the opportunity to offer PointsBet’s market-leading speed and ease of use, unrivalled slate of betting options, and overall in-play excellence to the people of Old Dominion is a great achievement and responsibility,” said Johnny Aitken, PointsBet USA CEO.

“Alongside Colonial Downs, PointsBet is proud to partner with the Lottery in Virginia for our first lottery-regulated market license award. We couldn’t be more thrilled to further expand our exclusive relationship with NBC Sports – a staple to sports lovers in Virginia – and ultimately provide the great people in the state with the sportsbook they’ve been waiting for,” Aitken concluded.

Virginia is the latest state to offer PointsBet a licence to offer sports betting, with the operator already taking bets in Colorado, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and West Virginia.

Earlier this month, PointsBet was also selected as one of 10 operators approved to offer online sports betting in the state of New York as part of a consortium led by sportsbook supplier Kambi.