NetEnt signs first Pennsylvania contract with Penn National

NetEnt is prepared to enter the Pennsylvania gaming market after securing its first customer in the state; Penn National Gaming.

Penn Online Entertainment, a subsidiary of Penn National ’s Interactive Ventures, will receive NetEnt’s online casino games.

Erik Nyman, Managing Director NetEnt Americas, said: “This deal marks NetEnt’s first customer signing for Pennsylvania and is an important step in our growth strategy in North America.

“I look forward to our collaboration with Penn National and believe that our entertaining online games will be much appreciated by players in Pennsylvania.”

News of this deal follows the completion of Penn National’s acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment for $2.8bn earlier this month.

Chris Sheffield, MD of Penn Interactive Ventures and Sr. Vice President of Penn National Gaming, said: “We are pleased to offer NetEnt’s portfolio of online games to our customers and look forward to partnering with NetEnt to launch online gaming in Pennsylvania.”

Earlier this month, it signed a customer agreement with Churchill Downs to supply content to the operator in the New Jersey online casino market.

The deal expands NetEnt’s presence in New Jersey after the supplier already formed partnerships with Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Hard Rock Atlantic City and Tropicana.

Analysts estimate strong October performance for Macau casinos

Analysts have estimated high gross gaming revenue (GGR) figures for Macau casinos in October.

Last year, Macau’s casino industry enjoyed its best calendar month in October, generating MOP26.63bn ($3.29bn).

However, monthly GGR only grew 3% to MOP21.95bn this September, while the stock price of the country’s top six casinos has fallen 40% on average since June.

Analysts have subsequently expressed concern that trade tensions and increased regulation are keeping VIP customers out of Macau’s casinos.

But new estimates suggest October performance will at least match last year’s, with the best projection suggesting a year-on-year growth of between 1% and 5%.

Nomura Group’s Instinet and Sanford C. Bernstein both issued notes predicting strong monthly GGR, although the latter warned of the “volatility surrounding VIP.”

Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac recently spoke of the importance of the casino industry “continuously improving” to remain competitive.

Evolution Gaming sees Netflix and YouTube as competition, says CPO

Following Evolution Gaming’s win at the Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas with its Lightning Roulette product, Chief Product Officer Todd Haushalter tells Gambling Insider what else is in the pipeline.

You recently won the Global Gaming Award for Product Innovation of the Year for Lightning Roulette. Why do you think the product was received so well and what are the chances you could compete for the Award again next year?

It was time for a game like Lightning Roulette to emerge.  Everything in 2018 is getting more intense as attention spans shorten, entertainment options are more abundant and even music has more beats per minute.  So when we added random multipliers that pay up to 500x to the most popular table game in Europe, wrapping it all in the theme of something that looks like Frankenstein’s lab, it seemed like this was the time for such a game.

Which new products are in the pipeline? What makes these products stand out?

We have never had more games in the pipeline than we do right now. It is an incredible time for Evolution and we are going to be unveiling all of it at ICE in February.  Last year, we launched Dream Catcher, which is sort of a gameshow with the chance to make big money, and this became a runaway success, and won Digital Product of the Year at last year’s Global Gaming Awards. We followed that with Lightning Roulette earlier this year as you mentioned, which has also been a runaway success. Operators have told us these are two of the top 10 games in all of online that have been released in the last decade, as measured by gross gaming revenue. For this reason, we are seriously going to expand this space of highly entertaining gameshow style games with the potential to win very big. You can expect us to bring big brands to the live casino space that nobody would have expected, and I think it is also high time to introduce some dice games. We all love dice, yet there are no fun dice games online. This is about all I can tell you for now, and it is more than I usually share publicly.

What do you see as being the next step for live casino? How can the product evolve?

It is going to be highly entertaining games that are almost like TV shows that you can gamble along with at home.  We think of Netflix, YouTube and video games as our competition, so we are bringing games that are equally entertaining.

What are the chances you will expand to more verticals in the future?

I will first say that you don’t need to be in slots to get slot players – you can offer them something compelling in live instead. The reason to enter a new vertical is to grow the company by getting more players. I think if we do our job right, we can get different types of players to come to live casino and we are seeing that already. But, if we have some good ideas that we think players will love in another vertical, then anything is possible. In fact, we are on the eve of launching a suite of RNG table games with a new twist that we think players will love.

Product-wise, what are Evolution Gaming’s targets for the next five years?

It is simply to offer all different types of players, in every market, games they will love. This is what our partners ask of us and there are over 5,000 of us working really hard to achieve this and delight players everywhere.

Macau casino stock prices fall

The stock price of Macau’s top six casinos has fallen 40% on average since June, sparking concerns of a decrease in VIP gambling.

Monthly gross gaming revenue (GGR) for Macau casinos increased year-on-year in September – but only by 3% to MOP21.95bn ($2.72bn).

The region’s casinos were impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut last month, although growth still failed to match adjusted forecasts accounting for the natural disaster.

Subsequently, some analysts believe trade tensions and increased regulation are keeping VIP customers away from Macau’s casinos.

A fresh operation against money laundering was launched last week and produced 12 arrests, with two of those arrested detained.

The raid was in keeping with the anti-corruption campaign China President Xi Jinping has led since 2013.

Despite September’s slow growth, however, it was still the Macau casino industry’s 26th consecutive monthly year-on-year gain. A higher rate of growth is predicted in October, last year’s highest month for GGR (MOP26.63bn).

New NFL season drives September revenue growth in New Jersey

New Jersey gaming revenue grew 20% year-on-year to $281.7m for September, aided by “explosive growth in sports wagering.”

Based on filings from the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, casino win rose 8% to $232m and internet gaming grew 26% to $25.8m.

Total gaming revenue also increased in the year-to-date category, with $2.15bn generated so far in 2018, a 5% increase on this point last year; year-to-date casino win rose 2% to $1.89bn, with internet gaming win growing 17.6% to $216m.

Sports betting revenue for September totalled $23.9m, taking the year-to-date figure for New Jersey to $40.4m. In total, $183.9m was wagered on sports, raising the year-to-date tally to $336.6m.

A large factor was the start of the NFL season, with New Jersey casinos and sportsbooks making the largest amount of revenue on football ($9.6m), compared to a loss of $69,363 on basketball.

The biggest win percentage (14%) came in the parlay category, compared to the 10% won on football. New Jersey saw a grand total of $23m in tax revenue generated from September’s gambling activities.

DGEt Director David Rebuck said: “Driven by the explosive growth in sports wagering and continuing improvements in internet gaming and brick-and-mortar casino win results, the gaming industry produced another month of superb revenue increases.

“The revenue results point to a strong finish for New Jersey’s gaming industry in 2018.”

New operation to suppress money laundering in Macau casinos

A fresh operation against money laundering in Macau casinos was launched on Friday last week and brought immediate results.

The Judiciary Police, responsible for dealing with casino crime, arrested 12 individuals on Saturday in downtown Macau under suspicion of providing illicit money exchange services, with two of them detained. A similar operation was run on Tuesday in the Cotai casino district.

The Judiciary Police’s Mr Chan Chong, speaking at a press briefing, said: “Following a series of combating operations since the beginning of this year, we haven’t really seen that these activities have got more acute.”

This summer saw well-publicised operations on money laundering sweep Macau, with the Cotai district being the focal point. The issue was made a priority by Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, who noted in May that the city’s police forces were tackling the trend.

Macau’s problem with money laundering has gone through widespread reporting and, as tourism and gaming form the backbone of the island’s economy, officials are pursuing investigations and revisions to legislation.

Chan said: “We’ve always been paying close attention to illegal money exchange services and the crimes that stem from it. We will continue to observe the criminal trend and combat these activities.”

Ohio’s September gaming revenue hits $152.2m

Revenue from Ohio’s casinos and racinos totalled $152.2m in September this year, a 4% increase for year-on-year figures.

The state’s seven, slots-only racinos generated revenue of $85.7m this year, an increase of 8.1%, making them one of the lead contributors to the state’s overall growth.

The four casinos in Ohio saw numbers drop as casino revenue slipped 0.9% year-on-year to $66.5m.

Table games are only permitted at these four venues and the leader in that specific category was Jack Cleveland Casino, which registered revenue from table games of $8.7m for the month and $98.6m for the year.

Hard Rock Rocksino, bought by MGM Resorts in September, has taken a total of $193m this year after paying out winnings.

Hollywood Casino Columbus saw revenue of $170.2m, the second-highest for the state, followed by Hollywood Casino Toledo at $152.9m and Jack Casino Cleveland at $152.1m.

However, only Hollywood Toledo and Jack Cincinnati Casino recorded an increase in year-on-year September revenue. Hollywood Toledo grew from $16.2m to $16.3 and Jack Cincinnati moved from $15.7m to $16.2m.

Pennsylvania awards first two sports betting licenses

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has approved the state’s first two sports betting licenses.

Park Casino in Bensalem and Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County are the first two casinos to be awarded sports betting licenses by the state’s regulator.

The PGCB has seen five applications so far, despite a $10m license fee and a 36% tax rate (34% of which will go to the state, with a further 2% going to local governments), a rate more than four times higher than New Jersey’s 8.5% tax for sports wagering in casinos.

The three other applications are likely to be considered at the PGCB’s meeting on 31 October, comprising of Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in Chester, SugarHouse Casino in Fishtown, and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.

News of licenses being approved suggests the launch of regulated sports betting is not far away in Pennsylvania, with Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia already legalising regulated sports wagering following the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May.