JAN FEB 2021

Editors Letter

CEOs are still being tested like never before, even if the calendar has flipped over into a new year. January 1 is never a reset button in reality, even though there's an entire industry, however flaky, based on resolutions. Ask yourself if you've already given up on your declarations for daily sit-ups, gardening or eating more kale. I thought so. Those we feature in this CEO Special, however, have certainly doubled down on their commitment to see a task through; we didn't ask about their running habits though.

The tests to keep things humming along are just as challenging as ever as the pandemic continues to dictate terms. But sticking fast to diversification, agility and morale as the workforce diaspora tackle WiFi speed have been common areas to prioritise. Take Robert Chvátal, CEO of SAZKA Group, for instance, as he discusses on page 24 how business in Austria and the Czech Republic, as well as efforts in new regions, are showing great resilience against headwinds in other regions. “We're looking in general in Europe because we've demonstrated in several geographies that we're able to give a proposition that is a win for the government for state budgets, a win for consumers because of fresh and innovative products, and a win for us as a group because we are diversified.”

Then on page 30, we hear the inspired story of LeoVegas CEO Gustaf Hagman from his burger-flipping days to becoming a leading force in the gaming industry. If anything, LeoVegas is in an enviable position of growing influence. “There are a lot of companies out there: the smaller operators are trying to get acquired and the larger ones are looking at companies like us, since we have a clear position,” he explains. “With US investors moving into Europe now, we see more of them in our holdings and we can see their presence increasing all the time. I think that will also drive M&A in upcoming years. Definitely in a couple of years there will only be larger and larger operators.”

Spare a thought for all the companies that haven't been able to ride the pandemic out, even though they might have followed a similar approach. Circumstances can be brutal. And as enjoyable as it was to put this issue together, we hope you're able to apply some of the strategies and tools discussed in your own businesses, whether it's directly related or not. It has nothing to do with surrendering to what's considered normal but being consistently brave and daring. Those are a couple things I picked up on at least. The New Year isn't new anymore and we still have to learn by the examples set by those who continue to excel.

CF, Editor

In The Magazine

Live video on demand

Long-time marketing executive Alex Czajkowski talks us through the exponential growth of live video content, and its implications for online gaming

With the customer in mind

BetGames.TV CCO Richard Hogg speaks to Gambling Insider about personalisation and the key to customer engagement with the pandemic still taking hold of different jurisdictions worldwide.

Check your ego at the door

Tekkorp Digital CEO Matt Davey, one of the pioneers of online gaming, speaks to Tim Poole about starting his career with a regulator, his time at NYX Gaming and his hopes for the online market

Steve Donoughue: Comparisons between the Gambling Commission and Soviet Russia

UK gambling regulation expert Steve Donoughue has some strong views about the Gambling Commission which many may disagree with. Comparing the regulatory body to Soviet Russia, Donoughue explains why he disagrees with the way the Commission controls the UK market.

Spotlight on e-sports: An overview from India

Ranjana Adhikari, co-head media entertainment and gaming practice at Nishith Desai Associates

Third-party time

Harry von Behr, managing director(Sport), Spotlight Sports Group, examines a key strategy for driving engagement in 2021

Making up for lost time

Gambling Insider caught up with New York Senator, and racing, gaming and wagering committee chairman Joseph Addabbo, Jr, on his thoughts on the possibility of mobile sports wagering in the state, which looks as if it has finally taken a step closer to becoming reality.

An online awakening

Gaming industry analyst and SpringOwl Asset Management CEO Jason Ader speaks to Gambling Insider on the potential MGM Resorts International takeover of Entain and why he envisages more M&A deals in 2021.

The missing ingredient

John Griffiths, chief commercial officer at Spicy Mango, questions whether more trust is needed for a quicker evolution of the global esports betting market.

Lifting the lid on bids

Gaming Economics CEO Lee Richardson reveals what is going on behind the scenes as we get to the business end of the UK National Lottery bidding competition

The entrepreneur’s tale

Tim Poole sits down with LeoVegas CEO Gustaf Hagman, who provides his take on consolidation, regulation and the future of the gaming industry

Getting the best out there

Lightning Box CEO Peter Causley explains why he first created the gaming company in 2004, and reflects on the roller coaster year just past.

Paving the way

Martin Lycka, SVP of American Regulatory Affairs at Entain, speaks to Gambling Insider about the proposed legalising of online gaming in Ontario, which could pave the way for the rest of Canada to follow suit.

Par Excellence

Long before Stéphane Pallez became chairwoman and CEO of La Française des Jeux, the long-established and sole lottery operator in France, she established herself as a leader based on integrity and always being on the front foot. Here, she discusses how she evolved into the top role and how to maintain it based on making demanding decisions to meet these challenging time

Canada: A tectonic shift

FansUnite Entertainment CEO Scott Burton analyses the impact of single-event sports betting finally getting the green light in Canada

Roundtable: Land-based versus online slots

Industry experts from Pragmatic Play, Pariplay and Relax Gaming discuss the differences between land-based and online slot design, and give their insight into innovation for the digital sphere.

Positive signs

Andrey Astapov, managing partner at Eterna Law in Kyiv and member of the Expert Advisory Council of the Gambling and Lottery Regulation Commission of Ukraine, speaks here about optimism gaining momentum in the country as the gambling market moves towards legalisation.

Germany: The online state of play

After an eventful year, Germany is well on its way to fully regulating online gambling. Willem van Oort, founder of Gaming in Germany, sets out what we should keep an eye out for in the coming six months

A restrictive market

Xavi Muñoz Bellvehí, gaming lawyer at Spanish law firm ECIJA, and colleague Clara Mustarós discuss the recent gambling advertising restrictions introduced by the Spanish government last November, and what it means for the country’s gaming market.

Spin cycle

Just about every country is unique in terms of where it stands on slot machine legislation, but the UK has followed a more circuitous route than most. Paul Sculpher, director at GRS Recruitment, and Nick Arron, a solicitor and lead partner in the gambling team at Poppleston Allen, discuss the path that brought us to now, lessons learned, and effective ways to forge ahead.

Is now the time to act?

Richard Williams, gambling and regulatory partner at Keystone Law, speaks exclusively to Gambling Insider about the government review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

Charlie, Echo, Oscar

Casino Cosmopol CEO and European Casino Association chairman Per Jaldung

Ever increasing need for more robust safeguarding measures

Stefano Sordini, CEO of NetShop Internet Services Ltd, examines the ever increasing need for more robust safeguarding measures as hosting services face greater challenges to data.

A numbers game

As SAZKA Group strengthens its position as a leader in the lottery and gaming sector, with geographies firmly established in southern and northern Europe, and a current bid in the works for the UK National Lottery, Gambling Insider speaks with Group CEO Robert Chvátal about capitalising on technology and the knowledge at their disposal to deliver