As 2022 gathered pace, it was clear that the year was going to be one of extensive M&A, trading and regulatory activity, as companies published their first quarterly updates and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) had some big decisions to make.
Kicking off Q2, Betsson and Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) revealed respective major accomplishments, as the former made a strong start to the year in its first quarter earnings call and the latter moved to finalise its a key takeover.
Towards the end of April, Stockholm-listed international operator Betsson reported an 8% increase in group revenue, from €157.4m in Q1 2021 to €170.2m in the opening three months of 2022.
Meanwhile, the first of many major developments for the sportsbook and igaming platform provider saw GiG secure all major approvals for its acquisition of Sportnco – the firm’s new sports betting subsidiary would later play a key role in a number of partnerships throughout the remainder of the year.
In other commercial developments, another big M&A move came to fruition for yet another major supplier, this time when EveryMatrix took control of Leapbit as it sought to strengthen the omni-channel capabilities of its Oddsmatrix division.
Commenting at the time, EveryMatrix CEO Ebbe Groes explained that the takeover was essential to expand the ‘ecosystem’ of Oddsmatrix, which he in turn highlighted as one of the ‘three pillars’ of his company’s operation.
Taking another glimpse at operators’ performances, Betway and Spin parent company Super Group detailed a positive start to its trading as an NYSE-listed business, having sacred registration on the leading stock exchange in late 2021.
The firm recorded revenue of €311m – split 53%/47% between Betway and Spin, with the group’s sportsbook brand registering income of €186m, having experienced growth in all regions except Europe where its earnings dropped by 19%.
It was not smooth sailing for all businesses, however, as 888 Holdings braced itself for a tricky trading period following its £2bn takeover of William Hill earlier in the year, which at the time was yet to be finalised.
Amid the build up to the acquisition, there was a major shift in leadership in the betting industry, as long-term Hills CEO Ulrik Bengtsson stepped down from the role after stating that during his tenure the operator had achieved its corporate objectives.
Although a quarter of commercial activity, much of the focus in the UK was around regulatory updates, as the review of the country’s gambling legislation continued into its second year.
As policymakers, reformists and industry stakeholders debated the most sensible outcomes of the Gambling Act review, the UK’s Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) issued new rules impacting operators’ marketing strategies, banning the use of sports stars in campaigns.
Another government body would find itself facing a court battle, however – the UKGC was hit with criticism by Cameot for awarding the next 10 year licence for the National Lottery to the recently rebranded Allwyn.
Initiating a High Court case, Camelot argued that independent oversight of the Commission’s decision was needed, but in response the regulator asserted that the licence contest was ‘fair, open and robust’.
Amid the review and Camelot’s court case, the UKGC would gain new leadership during the quarter, as Andrew Rhodes took on the role of CEO on a permanent basis, having been fulfilling duties in an interim capacity.
With the debate on the review well underway by this point, heated conversations began to arise around industry funding of gambling harm treatment – speaking to SBC, Dealmeout CEO Jordan Lea argued that a mandatory levy would do more harm than good, prompting an open letter response from GambleAware CEO Zoe Osmund.
Lastly, looking away from the UK, a huge development occurred in the Australian betting scene, as News Corp Australia and Tekkorp Capital announced plans to launch a new wagering business – setting the tone for what would prove to be a transformative year for the industry, not just in Australia but across the whole globe.