2017 Gaming Intelligence Sports Betting Supplier of the Year
OpenBet continues to dominate the UK market, but almost everywhere else SBTech is cleaning up.
The company closed landmark deals in Argentina and Mexico, and these could just be the tip of the iceberg. While Argentina will be a tough nut to crack with SBTech’s client already in hot water with the authorities, Latin American operators are queueing up for online and omnichannel sports betting solutions.
If emerging markets remain SBTech’s speciality, it also flashed a signal of intent by winning licences in more established markets such as the UK and Italy, as well as newly regulating markets such as Portugal and Romania. Other deals were closed with the Czech Republic’s largest lottery, Sazka, and with rising Nordic star ComeOn, which was acquired by another client in the shape of Cherry. SBTech’s star is clearly in the ascendancy.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Social Casino Supplier of the Year
The B2B sector of social casino has taken a while to get going, and is often overlooked as it is not a simple software supply arrangement common in the iGaming space.
Instead companies enter into hybrid affiliate-software supply deals with land-based casinos. These may seem fairly one-sided but they play a crucial role in bringing bricks-and-mortar venues online, giving them greater reach and incentivising customers to return.
Greentube is perhaps the most underrated company active in this space. With the vast resources and content library of Novomatic behind it, the social business does not get the credit it deserves. But with the Greentube Pro social marketing platform and BlueBat Games platform, it offers land-based partners a market-leading solution.
More importantly, operators are clearly interested. For Foxwoods to ditch long-term partner GAN in favour of Greentube is a huge feather in the supplier’s cap. Judges described Greentube as an “amazing” business, and it seems right that after netting the biggest deal of the year it deserves this award.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Poker Supplier
Relax Gaming is by no means the biggest poker software provider in the industry but Kindred Poker’s progress in 2016 marks it out as a trailblazer.
The operator’s decision to partner with Relax in 2013 to develop a stand-alone poker product and leave the network model behind was potentially dangerous for Kindred. But considering the wider poker sector’s continuing decline since that year, it was a risk that was worth taking.
Poker has become little more than an afterthought for many operators, but Relax has been able to create a truly differentiated product for its client. Poker revenue for Kindred – a vertical that for years was simply lumped in with games in the company’s results – is up from £1.2m to £3.2m in Q3 2016. With the launch of a new client, Kindred Poker 2.0, expect this to grow further.
By working closely with its client, Relax has been able to develop a unique and attractive product that has already shown it can compete in the industry’s most difficult vertical.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Marketing Service Provider of the Year
Optimove works with Zynga, Caesars Interactive, bwin.party, Codere, NYX, Novomatic, Playtech, Playtika and LeoVegas, among others.
Its Customer Marketing Cloud allows for automated, multi-channel campaigns, offers realtime reporting and predictive modelling. It sends more than 4bn messages to more than 900m customers each year, and has grown by more than 100 percent in each of the past three years. And it only launched its first funding round in 2016.
For a company to go through its early years totally bootstrapped gives a sense of just how good its solutions are. It has become the leading marketing platform provider in gaming based almost entirely on the strength of its product, and with $20m raised for further research and development it will only get bigger and better.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Lottery Supplier of the Year
No other company rivals Scientific Games in the lottery supplier space.
On the interactive side of things, it has put blue space between itself and the likes of IGT and Intralot. It has deployed more than 600 online/ interactive projects for 45 lotteries across the US, Canada and Europe, and is currently in the midst of one of its most significant projects to date after being awarded a contract to replace the iGaming platform for the Atlantic Lottery Corporation in Canada which should go live this year.
Another big project involves replacing rival IGT as the new platform provider for Danish lottery operator Danske Spil. For the third year in a row, Scientific Games is the clear winner.
INSTANT WIN GAMES
2017 Gaming Intelligence Casino Supplier of the Year
NetEnt wins the casino supplier of the year award for the third year running. Its continued accomplishment is a joy to behold.
Its games are simply the most successful money can buy. Operators are clambering over one another to get the games and NetEnt is launching them in new jurisdictions almost every month. It launched in Latin America with Codere, in Portugal with Betclic Everest and it rounded off the year with an exclusive deal to supply the national lottery of Bulgaria.
In between big launches it continued its march into the UK with a deal to supply Paddy Power, and Inspired rolled its games out across 10,000 UK retail machines. Shock, horror – revenue was up 30 per cent during the first nine months. The juggernaut rolls on.
RED TIGER GAMING
2017 Gaming Intelligence Bingo Supplier of the Year
There is a quiet revolution going on at Dragonfish. The 888 B2B vehicle edges out its competitors to take home the award because, quite simply, it gets partners up and running – and there’s lots of them.
Its sheer number of client wins is phenomenal, with 30 new bingo deals in the last year. It also added 15 casino skins on the bingo platform. That figure grows every month and while only a few of them will be hits, like relative newcomers Costa Bingo and Moon Bingo, its network ensures a healthy liquidity for everyone.
Bingo has not suffered as much as poker in recent years, but the vertical has shrunk. With 120 skins on the Dragonfish open network, the company is playing a major role in ensuring a diverse, thriving sector.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Marketing Campaign of the Year
When we asked 888 head of B2C Itai Pazner how he was marketing 888Sport, he replied simply: “Very aggressively”.
The 888Sport brand was everywhere in 2016. London taxis were emblazoned with the home nations’ colours and 888’s innovative Treble The Odds offer was plastered alongside and on inside screens as Euro 2016 kicked off.
The company later launched a new television campaign with its Take ‘Em On ads delivering a quite different message to the in-vogue live-odds ads cluttering our screens. And its marketing campaign delivered immediate results.
With sportsbook revenue climbing 63 per cent in the most recently available financial results, 888Sport has overtaken the company’s bingo product for the first time. And those figures didn’t even include the latter stages of Euro2016. 888Sport has a long way to go to fulfil the opportunity it sees in sport but it’s going about it the right way.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Game of the Year
Table games come with such a tried-and tested formula that very few developers even attempt to innovate with the format.
When someone comes along with something that is both innovative and in with a genuine chance of gaining traction it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. Be The House’s Cash Out Roulette simply means that each game of roulette is no longer over after a single spin of the wheel.
Players can bet on consecutive spins and outcomes such as the ball landing on a certain number in a set number of spins, or on the number of black or red numbers in ten spins, for example.
It offers traditional roulette players a new way to bet on the game. It offers new players the chance to win higher payouts. It offers sports betting operators an excellent cross-sell product. It’s a worthy game of the year.
RED TIGER GAMING’s ARCADE BOMB
EVOLUTION GAMING’s DUAL PLAY ROULETTE
NETENT’s GUNS ‘N’ ROSES
2017 Gaming Intelligence Socially Responsible Operator of the Year
t’s not often Gaming Intelligence receives press releases from integrity analytics managers. But it got one from Unibet’s Maris Bonello at the beginning of 2016.
The press release highlighted Unibet’s offer of free betfilter licences to treatment centres such as BreakEven in the UK. Betfilter is an online software service that customers can download and use to block themselves from all gambling operators. It is also available to be downloaded directly from Unibet’s’ Know when to stop’ page.
The company also integrated electronic authentication system BankID to its Unibet and MariaCasino brands in Sweden. BankID speeds up the authentication process while simultaneously improving safety and security. It is an innovation that is a win-win on so many levels but ultimately the customer is being better cared for.
Unlike many operators, Unibet displays responsible gambling messages clearly on all its pages. In addition, it has developed self-assessment tools for players and software to flag up problem gambling. This is more than mere lip service. Unibet is Gaming Intelligence’s Socially Responsible Operator of the Year 2017.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Sports Betting Operator of the Year
Sky Bet has long had admirers but it has rarely seen a year like this one. Sky Betting & Gaming as a whole reported a 51 per cent increase in revenue to £373.6m during its most recent financial year.
The sportsbook’s revenue shot up an even more impressive 64 per cent to £214.1m. There are bigger operators but none could match this level of growth. Behind the figures is an enviable technology suite – with OpenBet at its core – but constantly tweaked by HQ in Yorkshire to optimise results.
There are few operators with such an impressive mobile offering, which now accounts for a stunning 75 percent of revenue. While the UK remains very much its core market, progress has been made in Italy and elsewhere. Sky Bet will no doubt continue to thrive but it will be remarkable if it ever repeats a year like this one.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Social Casino Operator of the Year
To give this award to Zynga Casino may have seemed unthinkable even in 2015, but 2016 has seen the social giant successfully diversify beyond its core poker product to develop a thriving social slot offering.
Zynga deserves the prize for its efforts over the past year. Its Hit it Rich! Wizard of Oz slots apps have grown to join the poker product as one of Zynga’s main sources of revenue, with the pair generating 12 percent of the company’s Q3 total.
That period also saw more than 80 percent of revenue come from mobile. Zynga may not be the force it once was but it has succeeded in totally overhauling its business, leveraging its assets and capabilities to enter the slot sector.
Social casino was once considered closed off, but Zynga was once considered dead and buried. The fact it is once again making waves is worthy of praise.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Poker Operator of the Year
Since Amaya’s acquisition of Rational Group in 2014 it has become apparent that even an industry behemoth such as PokerStars is not immune to the global poker market’s decline.
While focus may be pulled away from the core product by PokerStars’ expansion into sports betting and casino, and almost-constant M&A speculation, the operator has quietly and carefully made excellent progress in revitalising poker.
The launch of new game formats such as Beat the Clock and Knockout Poker, coupled with an overhauled VIP programme and rake structure, helps PokerStars appeal to casual players. Recreational players have become the top target for poker operators, and PokerStars has done more than any other company to bring them in.
The restorative effect of these efforts is only just starting to show, but with a foothold in the US as well, the operator is more than deserving of retaining its crown.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Lottery Operator of the Year
Canada’s British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) doesn’t have the biggest operations online, but it is our winner because it is one of the most proactive operators around and has vast potential in a North American market starved of online play.
It has been at the forefront of the regulated online gaming market in Canada since launching PlayNow.com in 2004, and recently rolled out North America’s first omni-channel progressive jackpot game with IGT.
That is the first phase in its plans to bring digital technology into the predominantly landbased lottery sector. Along with Loto-Québec’s Espacejeux. com and Ontario’s Playolg.ca sites, the provincial lottery operators are setting the benchmark and showing the US lotteries how it can be done, with backing from regulators and the government.
PlayNow.com contributed revenue of CAD$135.5m in BCLC’s most recent financial year, up 24 per cent compared to the previous year. It also powers Manitoba’s iGaming site – frankly, no other lottery comes close.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Casino Operator of the Year
There is just no getting past the figures coming out of Amaya’s casino. While Amaya combines its sportsbook and casino figures, we’re told the vast majority come from casino games.
So here it is: sportsbook and casino revenue rose 114 per cent during the first three quarters of 2016 to $183.9m. By the year-end it could be as big as 888’s casino.
To come so far in so short a period of time is phenomenal. One can criticise the product as just slots sitting in a poker app, but each operator must adapt its product to suit its own operation. Amaya has achieved that feat perfectly. PokerStars’ casino games wiped the floor with the opposition during 2016.
2017 Gaming Intelligence Bingo Operator of the Year
In what was the most keenly contested category in this year’s GIAs, Jackpotjoy edged out the likes of Stride, Rank and 888 to take home the award. Its parent company Intertain may have endured a fraught year but Jackpotjoy has proved a reassuringly consistent subsidiary.
For the first half of the year revenue was up an astonishing 163 per cent to CAD$169.7m. One judge suggested that Gamesys had “doubled down” on improving Jackpotjoy after losing Sun Bingo to Playtech, and this rapid growth repaid the investment.
Its StarSpins and Botemania subsidiaries show that it is successfully expanding beyond its core business, but it has not done so at the expense of the flagship bingo product, which still accounts for 72 per cent of total revenue.
Intertain’s decision to tie Gamesys into an extended exclusivity deal until 2019 in September last year was a savvy strategic move. Competitors will be hard pushed to catch Jackpotjoy by then.