Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today, we revisit a pair of updates in Australia concerning Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment, a slew of financial updates, and a UK Gambling Commission fine.
The UK Gambling Commission handed a £450,000 penalty package to VGC Leeds, trading as Global Gaming Ventures, after a series of failures were discovered.
An investigation undertaken by the regulator, concerning the Victoria Gate Casino venue, identified failings in the way it identified and managed customers who were at higher risk of money laundering and gambling-related harm.
These failings, it was said by the UKGC, stemmed from VGC failing to effectively implement its anti-money laundering and safer gambling policies and procedures.
The Commission investigated the handling of 10 customers following concerns identified at a compliance assessment in July 2019.
The Victoria state government confirmed that the royal commission into Crown Resorts’ casino operator licence would hand over its final report on Friday 15 October.
This concluded months of public hearings examining whether Crown Melbourne is suitable to hold a casino licence within the state, including the allocation of additional time and funding to investigate “a wider range of matters”.
Among them were those relating to the corporate culture of Crown Melbourne, gambling harm minimisation, and allegations that the venue underpaid casino tax.
It was said that the extension, from August 1, 2021, to October 15, 2021, as well as an increase in funding from $10m to $19.75m, was done in a bid to ensure that the significant information provided regarding the facility’s suitability to hold the casino licence was examined thoroughly and appropriately.
Entain expanded Advanced Responsibility & Care trials into real time customer interaction across UK brands amid continued progress, as the group maintained the delivery of “sustainable, consistent and diversified growth” through the third quarter.
Delivering a trading update addressing its performance across Q3, as well as the year to date, the group, buoyed by a 23rd consecutive month of double digit quarterly growth, hailed a “strong performance” against a tough comparative period.
This saw net gaming revenue rise four per cent for the July 1 to September 30 time frame, with online rising seven per cent and retail down one per cent, as UK volumes recovered toward pre-COVID-19 levels, and activity steadily rebuilt in Europe.
On a digital basis, Entain’s sports and gaming divisions demonstrated increased 12 per cent and one per cent, respectively.
In the US, the group’s BetMGM entity, which is live in 16 jurisdictions following recent day one debuts in Arizona, Wyoming and South Dakota, is reported to have a 23 per cent market share across sports betting and igaming for the three months to August.
The Star Entertainment Group is to face an investigation in Queensland, after allegations that the company has engaged in a series of improper practices were described as “very serious”.
Attorney General Shannon Fentiman confirmed that an investigation into the claims will proceed, with Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation to work alongside the police and AUSTRAC, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, in looking into the matter.
This follows reports suggesting that the company, which runs Queensland casinos on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane as well as in neighbouring New South Wales in Sydney, enabled suspected money laundering, organised crime, large-scale fraud and foreign interference through its venues.
An investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald, Age, and 60 Minutes alleges that, between 2014 and 2021, Star cultivated high-roller gamblers associated with criminal or foreign-influence operations.
Rank Group documented an “excellent response” by customers following its venues resuming action earlier this year, with confidence issued that trading will demonstrate continued improvement across the business moving forward.
These comments came amid the release of a trading update for the period ending September 30, 2021, which the company said fell in line with expectations, and during which like-for-like net gaming revenue grew 69 per cent to £163.1m.
On a channel basis, NGR across digital and retail venues increased five per cent and 117 per cent year-on-year, respectively.
Looking closer at the former of those business segments, Rank’s UK digital business is reported to have returned to growth during the quarter with a four per cent £38.2m.
Grosvenor digital grew NGR by 12 per cent, driven by the growth in revenue from omni-channel players following the reopening of casinos.
Mecca digital has also documented an uplift of six per cent, with Rank also updating that the migration of the brand on its proprietary ‘Ride’ platform remains on schedule for January 2022.
However, despite this the group adds that “the performance of our other brands was mixed,” with growth in the casino business offset by revenue declines in bingo resulting in a combined NGR drop of six per cent.
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint against The A&S Leisure Group’s Napoleons Casinos, which challenged a perceived irresponsible nature of the website and social media post.
The website post in question, witnessed on August 16, 2021, at napoleons-casinos.co.uk, stated on the home page “enjoy unlimited gambling in all of our Napoleons Casinos …”.
Furthermore, a post on Napoleons Casinos Facebook page from the same day read ‘Napoleons Casino & Restaurant…unlimited gaming entry into prize draws access to all our UK branches’.
Finally, one complainant also raised an issue with the FAQ page of the website which, under the heading ‘What are the benefits of becoming a member?’ stated ‘If you produce appropriate ID you will have access to unrestricted gambling …’.
The complainant challenged whether the claims ‘unlimited gambling’ and ‘unlimited gaming’ were socially irresponsible, with the ASA itself looking into whether the wording of ‘unrestricted gambling’ was also irresponsible.
Esports Entertainment Group surpassed prior expectations through FY2021, as the company significantly raised projections for the next 12 month period following multiple strategic acquisitions.
Buoyed by a “formidable foundation” built following 2020’s IPO, EEG has reported net revenue for the fourth quarter ending June 30, 2021, of $8.8m, a 63 per cent quarterly increase from the $5.4m recorded during Q3.
Q4 gross profit rose 69 per cent to $5.2m (Q3: $3.1m), operating loss widering to $10.5m from Q3’s $5.6m and $2.1m one year earlier, with sales and marketing expenses rising from the third quarter’s $2.4m to $5.1m.
The company has long stressed its ambitions across igaming and sports betting, with the former bringing a new single-day record for EEG during last month.