For those in the gambling industry who only want to work in regulated markets, Germany has been a frustrating country. There have been several regulatory false dawns and I shudder to think how much lawyers and consultants have made out of the shenanigans around the various on/off licensing sagas. Meanwhile operators like Star Games and Bwin have been making a fortune from German customers.
On the legal front it only gets messier. While it looked like the 16 Länder had finally agreed a workable interstate treaty on sports betting, which would have come into force on 1 January 2018, Schleswig-Holstein blocked it on the basis it does not incorporate legislation for casino and poker. They instead said they would prefer to reintroduce the legislation that saw them licence 23 online casino and 25 sportsbooks in 2012.
Meanwhile, the German tax authorities have written to all the big operators, reminding them to make sure they are paying VAT at 19% on their gross gaming revenues since 1 January 2015. According to my market sources, almost everyone has complied, which means that the vast majority of the German online gambling market is now effectively paying tax on their not entirely legal revenues. When the tax authorities of Frankfurt am Main III (online sports betting) and Berlin Neukölln (online casino) bank those payments, is that a tacit admission that the federal government is effectively giving permission for European operators to take money from German customers?
At the same time financial markets’ appetites for light grey revenues seems to be growing, with revenues from countries like Germany and Sweden only moderately discounted to fully regulated markets and even profits from places like Japan and Norway attracting decent multiples.
Speaking to chief executives of some big operators and software companies who have until now stayed out of Germany, it appears that their patience may finally be cracking. Earlier this month (Oct 3) Scientific Games took Germany off its banned list, although that perhaps was more a reflection of the fact that once they acquire NYX OpenBet it will have some fairly substantial revenues from what must now be Europe’s second largest online market. I am expecting several other big companies to open up Germany as an acceptable market over the next 12 months.
What are the consequences of this? For Germany’s tax authorities it should mean a decent payday. Likewise for their media companies, who also seem to be a lot happier about the risks of taking advertising from gambling companies.
But what will the politicians and legal authorities make of it? It feels like the gaming operators are hoping that Germany goes the same way as Sweden where, slowly but surely, a very light grey market becomes taxed and regulated. But this is by no means a certainty. A large number of the states are extremely conservative in their outlook and are particularly opposed to any increase in access to slots and table games. Sports is less of a problem, not least because thanks to the likes of Tipico, there are betting shops on most high streets and footballers, like Oliver Kahn, advertise sports betting on national television. Casino and poker are definitely not certainties to make it through the licensing process.
For the next couple of years, it doesn’t look likely there will be huge changes from the current situation. But as more operators enter the market, the push for a fully taxed and regulated market – by both operators who want to fully legitimise their revenues and by politicians who don’t like companies operating outside the law – can only become greater.
Written by Joe Saumarez-Smith, Chairman Bede Gaming, for EGR Intel. The original can be found on their site at http://egr.global/intel/opinion/playing-the-long-game-in-germany/.
This article is printed with permission from EGR.
The Rank Group plc reported digital growth of 19% for the 16 weeks to 15 October 2017 at their Annual General meeting today.
Digital revenues at Grosvenor Casinos was up 34% and Mecca Bingo’s online operations were up 11%.
Rank moved their entire digital operation to Bede in March 2016 and has seen strong growth since that point.
Michael Brady, chief executive of Bede Gaming, said: “We are delighted that Bede’s biggest client is seeing such excellent digital growth and we look forward to supporting them in the years to come, both online and in their retail offering.”
Both Rank chief executive Henry Birch and his digital team have publicly stated that Rank’s digital growth has been strongly enhanced by Bede’s platform. Adam Joseph, director of digital operations for Rank, has said: “The perceived risk of moving to newer technology was unfounded. Bede allows us the flexibility, speed and control we need to amplify our digital plans and we look forward to continuing our work with them to see how much they, and we, can grow in the future.”
Ivor Jones, leisure analyst at Peel Hunt, wrote in a note to clients this morning: “The digital speedboat continues to grow and have an increasing impact on the growth of the liner it is pulling along. The best is yet to come, with single wallet completing the digital transformation project and giving management the tools to monetise the substantial player base of the offline
Business. We reiterate our Add recommendation.”
Developer’s full suite of games seamlessly integrated onto Bede PLAY
Bede has significantly expanded its content portfolio after entering a partnership with The Games Company.
Under the agreement, the developer’s full suite of HTML5 desktop, mobile and tablet games have been integrated onto Bede’s content aggregator platform, PLAY.
The Games Company is an independent UK company, which has a wholly owned development team based in Portugal and offers third-party content through its own platform.
Premium titles such as Mariachi Mayhem, Cash Cowboy and Two Tribes are now available to all Bede’s clients, including Tier 1 operator The Rank Group.
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming, commented: “Adding premium content to our offering is a key part of our ambition to become the first-choice gaming platform in regulated markets. Partnering with The Games Company is a major step towards achieving that goal.
“We’ve been hugely impressed with the high standard of games they offer, and with their games performing well, they make an attractive proposition for our customers.”
Hans Winkelmann, MD of The Games Company, said: “Bede Gaming is known for its high-performing gaming platform, and we’re thrilled to be working alongside them.
“The integration process has been very straightforward, thanks to the platform’s flexibility and scalability. The speed of it means we are quickly accessible and the openness of Bede PLAY means our content is now available to any of their clients’ brands without need for separate integrations.”
Operators have long struggled with the question of whether it is best to buy or build their technology, but perhaps this is the wrong question to ask. There is an alternative.
How an operator accesses the best products and technology to deliver a great user experience has changed in recent years. Around six or seven years ago, the vast majority of operators opted to licence their technology from third party suppliers, recognising the need to outsource due to lack of internal expertise. However, as many operators selected the same technology partners, many ended up looking like clones of one another and lacked the ability to differentiate.
Providing tailored solutions for individual operators was neither cost-effective nor technically viable for many platform providers. Instead, they provided a one-size-fits-all option to each brand, placing the onus on them to ensure their marketing and not their product proposition was what made them stand out from the crowd.
With costs rising, some operators decided to take their technology in-house. These projects have produced somewhat mixed results to date. Some have seen success, but the majority of these have been private businesses who can commit significant budget and have focused on a particular vertical, like sports, for example.
In most cases, however, operators cannot make the sort of commitment required to construct a platform equivalent to that produced by a dedicated third party supplier. Operators have more pressing priorities and focus their expertise in other areas, on which their businesses rely.
At Bede, for instance, the last 6 years has been dedicated to building the most flexible solution in the industry. It’s hard to shortcut this, especially if you’re looking for a quality product as opposed to a quick fix.
However, this isn’t to say that operators shouldn’t look at building a platform as an option. Indeed, it is crucial that suppliers do not ignore the compelling reasons for operators to build their own technology, particularly in Europe’s mature markets where thin margins put additional, and sometimes heavy, pressure on internal efficiencies.
And this is where we’re saying there is an alternative route. One that allows operators to build their own functionality on top of a flexible and open platform. That delivers a differentiated proposition without sacrificing quality or refocusing critical business resource towards lengthy in-house projects.
It is vital that operators look at the technology that is now available and understand that they can use it to take back the control they’re looking for to deliver their own digital objectives.
Delivering a future-proof alternative to an existing legacy platform is perceived as a risk, particularly among major PLCs whose board and shareholders are under a lot of pressure to maintain growth. In this case, it’s almost always easier to go for the safe choice but that doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice.
And with aggressive challenger brands making their presence felt, operators that prevaricate could find themselves at risk of losing market share.
This alternative approach allows operators to license a high functioning platform and also have the power to build upon it, making the technology act as the enabler to differentiation, choice and control.
All this is to say that the divide is no longer as black and white as it was those six or seven years ago.The technology is now available, and accessible, for future-proof alternatives to the static legacy platform options.
Some Tier 1 operators have taken the plunge and immediately reaped the benefits. It’s no secret that the likes of the Rank Group, who switched to Bede in 2016, has seen digital revenues soar since.
This example shows the importance of ensuring that technology does not act as a roadblock for delivering a stronger product and experience to customers. With an open, agile and proven platform upon which operators can build, they are free to focus on what they are good at.
So, if you are struggling with the buy or build conundrum, it might be worth considering that you really can have your cake and eat it. To create a truly differentiated unique offering, the question should not be not whether to buy OR build but where you can buy AND build.
Bede Gaming, the award-winning supplier of software to the online gaming industry, is continuing to build on its partnership-led approach by holding a client and key supplier day.
Bede Gaming is building an alternative route for operators, that gives them the flexibility to build their own differentiated offering on top of an established and high performing platform. This approach has been at the core of its business and appeals to a whole range of clients; from those looking to migrate platforms to those looking for a full white label.
The provider’s commitment to pursuing true partnerships with its operating partners is reflected in its approach to holding regular dialogue with its clients about its platform and how its use and are now going a step further with an upcoming VIP client day. The latest initiative in its quest to offer the highest levels of service and responsiveness.
To be held from 27-28 September, Bede will be hosting a forum and feedback session for its clients at its headquarters in the heart of the North East, Newcastle, before treating them to a fine dining experience and the British Masters golf tournament at nearby Close House.
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming, said: “At Bede we have built our success on a foundation of treating our clients and suppliers as true partners, and ensuring that we take their feedback into account is a core part of our long-term growth strategy.
“This is the first, in what we hope will become a regular date in the calendar for all our partners.
“Hosting an event like this is reflective of our open approach to the thoughts and needs of our partners. We recognise speaking to our operators and suppliers on a regular basis is a key part in ensuring we continue to deliver products of the highest quality and shows our commitment to offering a first class service.”
Founded in 2012, Bede Gaming employs the latest in modern technology to provide secure, high-quality products to create a world class gaming experience.
Bede Gaming signs a partnership agreement with leading online content developer Core Gaming.
The deal sees Core Gaming’s portfolio of state-of-the-art HTML5 titles delivered through the Bede PLAY platform, all available to Bede’s operating partners via a single integration.
Core Gaming joins an extensive group of premier suppliers integrated into the Bede PLAY platform, including IGT, Novomatic and Scientific Games.
Michael Brady, CEO of Bede Gaming, said: “Core Gaming has established itself as a preeminent provider of content to the igaming industry, and we are excited to make its titles available to our operating partners via Bede PLAY.
“Bede PLAY now has more than 2,000 titles from accomplished suppliers available via one easy integration, and this agreement with Core Gaming marks an important milestone as we build on our reputation as a leading software provider.”
Justin Chamberlain at Core Gaming, said: “We have been tremendously impressed by Bede Gaming’s commercial and technical acumen from when we first began discussions, and are thrilled to have signed a deal to integrate our games onto the Bede PLAY platform.
“Our high quality HTML5 software has proved hugely popular with players across the board, and we look forward to working closely with Bede Gaming as we grow our operations together.”
Bede PLAY offers a completely flexible gaming solution and robust security measures, and is quickly establishing itself as the first-choice option for innovative operators globally.
Founded in 2012, Bede Gaming employs the latest in modern technology to provide secure, high-quality products to create a world class gaming experience.
Joe Saumarez Smith, chairman of Bede Gaming, spoke at the Betting on Sports conference this week. He addressed a panel on Betting on Cricket, which was well attended by delegates from around the world.
The conference, which was attended by more than 1,200 executives from across the sports betting industry, saw more than 40 different panels on all aspects of sports betting, including a particular focus on the fast-growing area of eSports.
Mr Saumarez Smith told the conference: “Cricket is one of the best games for betting on but it’s extremely tough for trading teams to price accurately. The huge number of variables such as the speed at which the wicket deteriorates, the moisture in the air and the decision making of captains about who to bowl when means you can’t easily build a pricing algorithm. In a world where trading teams are increasingly being replaced by automated feeds, this produces a challenge for cricket to gain more market share of the global sports betting market.”
The panel was led by Stephen Carter, editor of iGaming Business, and also included Anthony Charles, executive director of Genius Tech Group, Dave Tharp, managing director of Living Sports and Matthew Glazier, managing director of Bookies.com.
Bede was also a sponsor of the conference show, highlighting how the Bede platform can support any third party sports betting software supplier and can offer deep integrations with cross-channel bonusing, something that rival platforms cannot support.
The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 placed Bede Gaming at number 76th on its prestigious league table. The recognition as one of the fastest growing privately owned tech companies in the country shows the success Bede has enjoy since its inception 5 years ago.
Bede is one of many contributing to the North East’s thriving tech scene and this placement shows the talent that can be found in the region as it continues to compete on a national and international level.
The company’s inclusion in the 17th annual publication is one of many achievements by Bede over the past few years, joining awards from the likes of EGR and Dynamo for product and growth respectively. As well as being awarded ISO 27001 certification, shows the continuation of the gambling software provider’s upward trajectory towards its goal of becoming the first choice gaming platform in the industry.
Bede Gaming, one of the fastest growing tech firms in the North East, has thrown its backing behind one of the region’s junior swimming stars. Emily Large is the European Junior Champion for 200m Butterfly, in which she also holds the British record for her age group, which she set at the European Junior Swimming Championships in Hungary last year.
The hugely talented Ponteland teenager, who swims for Newcastle Swim Team and is coached by Ryan Livingston, is a rising star in the swimming world with two other British short course records to her name in the 200m Butterfly and 400m Individual Medley. She is the current British National champion for her age group in 50 / 100 / 200m Butterfly.
At the end of 2016 she was named Pullbuoy’s Junior Swimmer of the Year and was shortlisted for the British Swimming’s Emerging Athlete of the Year.
Andy Thompson, HR Manager at Bede Gaming, said, “We’re extremely excited to be sponsoring Emily in her bid towards world swimming domination. It’s fantastic that we have such talent here in the North East and we want to do everything we can to give her the resources she needs to reach her goals. Shes already the fastest female in her age group in the world for the 200m Butterfly and we’re really looking forward to seeing her further successes as she progresses her career.”
Bede Gaming were able to connect with the King’s Priory School student through Sport Newcastle, a sports charity who support North East athletes.
Mike Booth, vice-chair Sport Newcastle, added, “Sport Newcastle are delighted to welcome Bede as the major sponsor of Emily Large one of our brightest young Sports Scholars. Emily will join a long list of scholars, including Victoria Pendleton and Jonny Wilkinson whose early sporting progress was assisted by the generosity of local businesses. The support that Bede are providing will undoubtedly help Emily financially but it also gave her a huge boost as she headed off to compete in the World Juniors.”
Jenny Large, Emily’s mum, commented, “Emily’s rising profile and swimming success means a daily learning process for us as parents and family. We are proud of what Emily is doing in the pool and know that this is made possible by her dedicated coaching team at Newcastle Swim Team. The generous support of both Sport Newcastle, through nominating her as one of their Sports Scholars, and her new sponsor Bede Gaming will be a key factor in helping her pursue her dreams.”
Since this press article was released, Emily has been crowned the World Junior Champion for 200m Butterfly, breaking the championship record in the process, which had previously stood for 9 years. She also found out she received straight As and A*s in her GCSEs!