The RightCasino 2018 News Roundup
It’s been a busy year in the world of online casinos, though truth be told, it is never not-busy in this industry! With so many brands and constant innovation, it’s a sector that refuses to stay still and players can sometimes find themselves playing catch up with what is going on.
As 2018 draws to a close, RightCasino is looking back on the past twelve months and the newsworthy events that made headlines. From casino closures to award winners to regulation changes, we’ve got it all here. Read on to get the lowdown.
UKGC cracks down hard
The UK Gambling Commission is in charge of ensuring that its strict rules are followed, to the letter, by license holders. These regulations are in place to protect vulnerable members of society from falling prey to unethical practices and to keep close tabs on the industry in an effort to clamp down on criminal activity such as fraud and money laundering.
This year, the UKGC came down hard on a number of operators who did not stick to these rules, fining operators a total of £18 million between June 2017 and June 2018. We also know that the UKGC issued at least another £14 million in fines to three online casino brands in November, which means that the Commission is well on the way to surpassing last year’s total already.
The brands on the receiving end of these fines may not be having the best time of it but it’s this tenacious enforcement of the rules that makes the industry, as a whole, safer for all players.
Underage gambling remains a concern
Operators go to a lot of trouble to keep their products out of sight and out of reach of youngsters but this year, the alarm was raised when data showed that kids are more likely to gamble than they are to smoke or drink alcohol.
A study released this year also showed that ‘loot boxes’ in video games – where a player pays a fee to receive a mystery gift that may or may not be valuable – is linked to an increased risk of these players developing an unhealthy relationship with gambling.
In response, the UKGC launched an education campaign aimed at parents and kids, explaining what behaviours constitute gambling and what the risks are. Here’s hoping that a concerted effort will help reverse this worrying trend.
Operators cooperate on advertising
In a related move, a number of betting operators have voluntarily agreed to halt television advertising during live sports broadcasts. This ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban means that no gambling or betting ads will appear during sports events themselves as well as for short periods before and after the event takes place.
During World Cup football matches this year, viewers were shown over 90 minutes of gambling ads in total and this raised concerns that such intense exposure was normalising gambling and putting vulnerable persons at risk.
The Remote Gambling Association, which includes brands like Bet365, Ladbrokes, Betfair and a number of others, has decided to stop broadcasting advertising during sports events, with all members of the association voluntarily agreeing to suspend their advertising activity.
The ban needs to be ratified by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling before it comes into force but it is expected to reach that stage in early 2019.
Horse racing events are exempt from the ban, mainly because gambling is so intrinsically tied to the sport’s viability. But the ban will include football matches and with about 60% of clubs in England’s top two divisions having gambling companies as shirt sponsors, that will likely have a significant impact on revenues.
New slot releases
On a less serious note, 2018 has been an exciting year for slots fans as a number of game providers have released memorable and interesting titles.
NetEnt kept up its notoriously brisk release schedule with several game releases this year, with titles like the much-anticipated Vikings finally landing on our screens. Other games include the spooky Halloween Jack, the twofer of Berryburst and Berryburst MAX, Hotline with its thrilling game mechanics and the unforgettable Jumanji.
Not to be outdone, Yggdrasil has also boosted its catalogue with several awesome titles. Players got some intriguing voodoo action in Baron Samedi, a high-octane thrill in Nitro Circus and an absolutely bonkers ride to Penguin City. This game provider continues to impress and surprise!
From Microgaming, we saw Mexican wrestlers in Lucha Legends rub shoulders with Russian royalty in Romanov Riches, with the two released within days of one another. Through the Quickfire platform, JustForTheWin brought us Reel Talent and Rainbrew.
With ELK Studios, we battled ancient beasts in Kaiju, celebrated at the bar in Birthday and sailed the waves in Wild Seas.
Overall, it’s been a great year for slots lovers and we are optimistic that 2019 is going to be just as exciting when it comes to new games.
Celebrating industry achievements
The casino industry is constantly on the move as brands strive to be bigger and better. A number of awards shows took place this year, recognising all the hard work and creative thinking that goes into making and growing a casino or affiliated product.
The iGaming Idol Malta awards happened in September this year. This event aims to acknowledge not just casino operators and brands but the hard-working individuals who really made a difference over the past year. After all, a company, any company, is only as good as its people.
Industry professionals are nominated by colleagues and compete for recognition in categories such as SEO, Social Media, Account Management, Fraud and Risk, Compliance, and Recruitment. This year, employees at Mr Green, The Stars Group, NetEnt and Playtech took home awards and some hard-earned kudos for their work this year.
Taking place in October, the EGR Operator Awards brings together some 800 industry professionals. It is considered the Oscars of the casino world and is one of the most important dates in the B2C industry calendar. This year, the awards went to a mix of familiar faces and new ones.
LeoVegas took home an award for its affiliate program and Bet365 won best Sports Betting Operator. William Hill received recognition for its mobile product, claiming the Mobile Operator award.
On an international scale, the International Gaming Awards celebrate the achievements of casinos based all over the world and includes remote and land-based operators. This year, several heavyweight brands received awards: Mr Green won the Socially Responsible Online category, Videoslots won the Slots Operator category, LeoVegas won Live Casino of the Year, and Slotsmillion took home the Innovator Operator award.
Farewell old friend
One casino that won’t be joining us in the new year is Super Lenny. A while back we covered the news that Super Lenny casino would be shutting its doors at the end of 2018, with players being given the option to transfer their account credit to one of the site’s sister casinos.
Brand operators GiG said that shuttering SuperLenny was due to a streamlining exercise throughout the company – not an unusual process for many operators these days, given the degree of competition they have to face these days.
So from all of us here at RightCasino, we wish SuperLenny a gentle journey into that good night. We won’t forget our antlered, mustachioed friend!
Whatever happened to VR?
Last year, the internet was abuzz with talk to how VR was going to change the online casino experience. Game provider NetEnt jumped on the bandwagon and Slotsmillion became the first casino to offer a VR experience.
Since then however, interest seems to have petered out. PokerStars has released a Virtual Reality client that allows players to enjoy poker games in VR but this is far from the tsunami of interest we were led to believe was about to start.
Slotsmillion has continued to offer its VR casino and we are expecting a VR version of the beloved Gonzo’s Quest game to land early next year. We just think the rest of the industry needs to get its act together and let us enjoy our favourite activity through the wonderful, futuristic medium of virtual reality and soon!
These have been some of the highlights of the year and here at RightCasino, we’re keen to see what 2019 brings us. The intrigue, the drama, the promotions… Ok, it’s mainly the promotions but we do want to keep everyone updated on what happens in this fascinating industry.
You will always find the latest in our News section so check back regularly to find out the latest news, industry events and developments in the world of online casino. Have a great 2019 everyone!