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02 Aug
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Chinese consortium to acquire Playtika from Caesars for $4.4bn

Caesars Entertainment Corp is set to sell its Playtika business for $4.4 billion (€3.9 billion) to a Chinese consortium.

The investors, led by Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co., the online casino-style games unit will continue to be operated from the company’s headquarters in Herzliya, Israel.

Also, the Playtika team will manage the daily operations as was done before this deal.

The all-cash deal involves Yunfeng Capital; a private equity firm founded by Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma; China Oceanwide Holdings Group; China Minsheng Trust Co.; CDH China HF Holdings Company Limited; and Hony Capital Fund.

Commenting on this agreement, Shanghai Giant Network Technology founder and chairman, Shi Yuzhu, said.

“Playtika's growth has been exceptional, and highlights its outstanding team, excellent corporate culture, cutting-edge big data analytics, and its unique ability to transform and grow games.”

Robert Antokol, co-founder and chief executive of Playtika, stated:

“This transaction is a testament to Playtika's unique culture and the innovative spirit of our employees who for the past six years have consistently designed, produced and operated some of the most compelling, immersive and creative social games in the world.”

Mitch Garber, chairman and chief executive of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, commented:

“It has been a particularly rewarding experience growing Playtika from a 10-person start-up, when CIE acquired them in 2011, into a global leader.

“Playtika today is a highly profitable growth company with more than 1,300 employees, multiple top grossing titles and millions of daily users."

The agreement needs to get some regulatory and is likely to be sealed by third or fourth quarter of this year.

 

01 Aug
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FanDuel to launch fantasy football product in UK ahead of new Premier League season

Fantasy sports lovers in the UK could be in for exciting times, as FanDuel is set to release its fantasy football product in the country very soon. In fact the platform is likely to be launched when the new Premier League season kicks off.

Interestingly, the company has never ventured outside the North American territory, despite setting up a business in Scotland’s Edinburgh in 2009.

While the market leader is Draft Kings, FanDuel now has over 6 million registered users in the continent. This is no mean feat considering the fact several stated posed legal hurdles to the company.

The firm’s UK launch is considered as the “first step in its international expansion plans”.

FanDuel attracted investments worth $275 million in 2015, which suggests the product has an approval from the people who matter.

FanDuel director of international marketing, Karol Corcoran said:

“Our team has spent a lot of time on developing the right product for the UK’s football fans and we’ve already had a lot of positive feedback from users during our beta contest phase, which was rolled out during the 2016 Euros. We can’t wait to bring the full product to market.”

DraftKings in UK launched its daily fantasy sports offering earlier this year in February.

Despite the presence of its main rival, FanDuel intends to seize market control with innovation in UK’s in-play sports betting market.  It has also teamed up with leading sports statisticians Opta.

Explaining the company’s collaboration with Opta, Corcoran explained:

“Opta’s stats also play a critical role in our unique scoring system, which considers the contribution of every player on the pitch, not just those who score goals – ensuring a more realistic and compelling reflection of the on-field action.”

27 Jul
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GAMING1, Estoril Sol team up to launch Portugal’s first legal online casino

GAMING1’s collaboration with Asia’s Stanley Ho Group’s Portuguese branch, Estoril Sol, led to the launch of EstorilSolCasinos.pt in the country.

According to the operator, it is the first licensed online casino website in Portugal.

The newly launched website can be accessed via mobile phones and from the desktop.

At the moment, it only offers content from GAMING1, which also includes 15 video slots, two roulette and one blackjack game.

Commenting on this new development, Estoril Sol executive director Vieira Coelho said:

“We’ve been very impressed with GAMING1’s products and services and we’re really excited to be launching this joint venture with them.

“We like to enter into partnerships with companies and GAMING1 are the perfect partner for us to really target the Portuguese online casino market.”

Sylvain Boniver, chief executive of GAMING1, added:

“It’s a very proud moment for us to launch the first licensed website to offer legal online casino in Portugal and together we hold all the aces to move forward in this exciting market.”

26 Jul
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Bookmaker giant William Hill’s chief executive James Henderson resigns

CEO of major bookmaker William Hill, James Henderson, stepped down with immediate effect earlier in the week.

Philip Bowcock, chief financial officer of the firm, was asked to stand it until a full-time replacement was named.

Interestingly, both parties did not reveal the reason behind this development.

 “James' career with William Hill has spanned over 30 years covering the retail, online and international businesses.

“We would like to thank him for his significant contribution and we wish him all the best for the future.

“Philip has a clear set of priorities as interim CEO, principally the continued turnaround of the online business; we will confirm a successor in the coming months,”the bookmaker said in a statement.

The UK-based company also stated the fact it continued to trade in line with previous guidance of between £260 million (€312.3 million/$344.6 million) and £280 million of operating profit for the year.

The half-year results of William Hill are expected to be announced on August 5.

25 Jul
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REVEALED: Why Playtech and PokerStars have now joined hands

Two of the biggest brands in the iGaming world – Playtech and PokerStars – have now decided to join forces.

The two companies signed a deal for content partnership recently.

As per their agreement, the online poker giant launched several Playtech titles on desktop and mobile. The latest deal is nothing but an extension of their present relationship.

Slot titles like ‘White King’ and ‘Greta Blue can now be accessed on PokerStars, with ‘Age of the Gods’ series set to be added very soon.

PokerStars ‘director of casino Sam Hobcraft said:

“We are very excited to partner with Playtech, and to provide our customers some of the best slots in the industry.

“In particular, their suite of Jackpot games will fill one of the final gaps in our product offering.”

Shimon Akad, chief operating officer of Playtech, stated:

“We’re delighted to have extended our existing relationship with PokerStars, one of the most established and well-known brands in the industry, and providing them with the industry’s best-performing content.”

This deal sounds exciting on paper. It now remains to be seen how the two leading brands leverage benefits of it for their respective progress.

19 Jul
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UK’s Project inks licensing deal with NetEnt

In a rather significant new development, UK’s Project, an independent game developer, has entered into an agreement with NetEnt.

NetEnt’s ‘Gonzo’s Quest’ platinum video slot will be the first game to be licensed under this new agreement.

The title is the first to showcase NetEnt’s Avalanche feature that has an extended game play instead of the standard reel spin.

Commenting on this deal, Tony Boulton, managing director of Project, said:

 “Whilst the movement of players is most commonly seen as being from bricks and mortar gaming to online, we want to approach this licensing agreement as an opportunity to attract and engage with NetEnt's loyal community of desktop and mobile players but in a bricks and mortar environment."

“We recognise the imperative of keeping our product offering relevant to a generation of players which is both agile and mobile and NetEnt, which has a catalogue of top performing and recognisable content, is an ideal partner.”

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