We began the year saying goodbye to the year of the horse and welcomed the Year of the Goat. From then things got pretty frenetic.
EntwineTech turned 10, reminding us that online live dealer games are no longer the new thing. Then operators not ‘Licensed and Regulated by the UK Gambling Commission‘ started pulling out of the UK market.
Evolution Gaming went public giving players a chance to hedge their bets buying a piece of the house and then we saw the first of many M&A announcements come through with William Hill making an offer for 888. This deal wasn’t done in the end but plenty of others would be before the year was out.
Better late than never they say. PokerStars finally decided to add live dealers. Meanwhile, Betvictor’s in-house studio experiment came to an end and Victor’s Live Casino moved from (in-house) Gibraltar back to (Media’s Live’s studio) in Malta.
Around the middle of the year a new trend started to emerge…the big kids launching additional, branded private areas giving their customers more tables and varied playing environments to choose from. 888 launched their 777 tables. William Hill added Vegas and Macau to their already substantial Live Casino private area.
Playtech took HD to another level, and from all reports made big leaps (that were needed) in delivery of video to mobile devices.
On the award front, Evolution Gaming got the gong for EGR Live Casino Supplier of the year for a sixth successive year (still the only winner), just before launching their in-casino live games from Belgium’s Casino de Spa.
2015 saw a flood of M&A activity.
First came the smaller ones: Unibet’s takeover of Stan James; 32Red’s takeover of Roxy. Then things got serious. 888 made a bid for Bwin.Party. Done deal thought the market, until GVC upped their offer for Bwin and won the battle. Ladbrokes and Gala Coral agreed to merge, and then came the announcement that would create the new, largest online betting firm in the world – a merger between Betfair and Paddy Power. The Paddy Power Betfair deal was approved by shareholders just last week and is expected be completed by March 2016.
There was an unexpected partnership from competitors Evolution Gaming and Microgaming.
Betsafe took an unusual marketing approach during the year. Not sure if it worked or not, but it was refreshing.
Playtech also launched VIP baccarat with squeeze (and an 8 seat baccarat table). A $500 minimum bet on the VIP table made for a stressful, but in the end profitable review. Evolution also felt the need to squeeze just before year’s end.
There were a host of new tables for the old live dealer favorites blackjack and roulette.
- Blackjack: Fortune VIP, Silver, Genie, Diamond VIP
- Roulette: Immersive lite, Prestige, Iris, Diamond
Live dealers continued going mobile with players apparently taking to this channel with far more enthusiasm than I originally though they would. PayPal made a very quiet re-entry to US online gambling.
And before we could say hit me, another new year was upon us.