Who saw this one coming?
NetEnt have closed down their dealer studio in Qormi, Malta. On Tuesday staff were told to finish up and exit the premises and await further details on their futures with the company.
2020 into 2021 was always going to be a period of change for NetEnt following their takeover by Evolution, which just recently cleared its last regulatory hurdles. But I’m not sure that an immediate shut down of their live casino operations was expected.
It wouldn’t appear to have been expected by the NetEnt live games development team, who have have had an extremely busy second half of the year.
Studio capacity has been expanded. New games have been launched. A few weeks ago we were introduced to NetEnt’s first live baccarat tables. A mere two days ago we had a look at their first attempt at a live game show.
Roulette Max must have only started taking bets Monday or Tuesday this week. A few hours later, the lights went out in the Qormi studio!
It’s hard to imagine all this game development activity was being done with an expectation that it would all be shut down, never to be utilised again. Also hard to imagine so much development would be done without any indications from soon-to-be-masters Evolution, on their future plans for the Qormi studio, or the games/tables (and indeed dealers) within.
Presumably there’s a transition team somewhere that knows exactly what’s going on. When Qormi will recommence live stream tables within to players around the world. Perhaps with different logos on the game UI. Undoubtedly with dealers on new contracts. Maybe from a completely different studio?
Time will tell.
In the meantime NetEnt live staff will nervously await more details on what the future holds.
Redundancies are inevitable. Even if most dealers get re-hired there will be plenty of back-office positions no longer required.
The Times of Malta reported that they were informed that the completed takeover would see, “a few hundred of NetEnt’s employees will lose their jobs as part of the deal.” This is a few hundred from NetEnt’s worldwide staff count of around 1,000 – not just from Malta, or the Qormi studio.
They also reported as follows:
“Evolution said that its Qormi-based studio would be shut down and so “the people working directly with this product are at risk of redundancy.” The formal redundancy processes have been initiated, the spokesman said.”
How many (if any) are re-hired remains to be seen. As does the extent to which NetEnt live game DNA survives the takeover.