2021 Gambling Industry Overview – Part 2
It seems that not a day goes by without some kind of major announcement from the gambling industry. It is hard to choose which are most significant, but here we will take a look at some of the biggest news from the second half of 2021.
There was major news from gaming giant Entain in July. It announced it was doubling its investment in its in-house game studios. The company aimed to double the number of employees at its in-house studios in the UK, Italy, and India to 300 people in order to develop exclusive casino content and games, including virtual reality products. In the same month, Playtech was busy ensuring that its titles could reach a wider audience. Its games went live on both the SkillOnNet platform and Scientific Games Open Gaming System platform. These platforms are used by some of the biggest operators in the world, meaning that Playtech’s games became available to a huge new audience.
August was a fantastic month for sports bettors in New York as the New York State Gaming Commission approved new rules surrounding mobile betting that will help ensure that bettors are having the best possible experience. At the same time, across the pond in the UK, Marcus Boyle was selected as the new chairman of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. The news was broadly welcomed by the industry as he is seen as a largely neutral figure without an anti-gambling agenda.
There was more acquisition news in September when 888 Holdings reached a deal to buy William Hill’s European operations for more than £2 billion. Caesars had acquired William Hill a few months earlier but was eager to sell off the business’ non-US assets. September also brought a boost for the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) when Flutter, the world’s biggest gambling operator, decided to join. Flutter, which is behind major brands such as Paddy Power and Betfair, said that they believe EGBA is most committed to promoting greater industry responsibility in Europe.
In October, after months of waiting, the Dutch regulated gambling market finally opened. Initially, there were ten licensed operators, including bet365, Tombola, and Play North Ltd. Since then, the market has been going from strength to strength, with numerous operators itching to join it. October also brought with it possibly the biggest gambling news of the year, the acquisition of Playtech by Aristocrat. Aristocrat made a bid of $3.7 billion for Playtech. Since then, there have been rival bids, and the process is still ongoing. However, as things stand, it seems that Aristocrat will take control of Playtech early in 2022.
November was a month of mixed news for gamblers in the US. In a surprise ruling, a judge in Florida brought an end to all online sports gambling in the state. US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that accepting sports bets was in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The ruling is being appealed, but for now, there is no way to legally bet on sports online in Florida. At the same time, the city of Chicago published details of the five casino bids it is currently considering. All of them sound truly exciting and no matter which is chosen, it is sure to be a wonderful addition to the city.
December may be the final month of the year, but there is still plenty going on in the industry. One of the major stories so far was a report from the Betting and Gaming Council highlighting how it is working with operators to protect children from gambling harm. The report highlighted key objectives for BGC members and outlined the work undertaken to date. There are still a few days left in which another major announcement could be made.