Thursday, 22 October 2020

Betsson To Close Four UK Online Casinos And Focus On Rizk Brand

Rizk Casino

Swedish gambling operator Betsson has announced that it will be surrendering three of its UK Gambling licenses, closing four of its UK-facing casinos and putting all of its efforts into the Rizk brand in the UK.

The operator announced the news yesterday, revealing that it will stop operating casino websites Guts and Kaboo that it had bought from Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) along with its Betsafe, Jackpot247, Betsson, Live Roulette, Casino Euro, and Racebet casino brands.

The casino brands affected will be closed from today and have stopped accepting deposits and new bets. All have been contacted accordingly and Betsson has confirmed that all deposits will be repaid and outstanding bets paid as winnings.

As reported by CasinoBeats, Betsson has been reducing its British business, which contributes only 3% to the operator’s total revenue, over the last few years, stating that the various changes in the UK market forced the operator to invest in technology and regulatory compliance the company can no longer continue with in its current form.

With the closures, Betsson plans on concentrating on operating the Rizk Casino brand in the UK. By focusing solely on one brand, the operator hopes it will increase its efficiency and create a positive contribution to its British business while enabling resources to be reallocated for more profit in other global markets of which the nine closed brands will continue to operate in.

Betsson released a press statement regarding the closure of its casino brands, it reads: “Betsson’s market share in the UK is relatively small with revenues currently representing approximately three per cent of the group’s revenue.

“The UK regulatory framework has undergone significant changes in the past few years, requiring extensive investments both in technology, regulatory compliance as well as marketing, which is not sustainable with the group’s current UK setup. Three of the group’s four licenses will therefore be handed back to the UK Gambling Commission with immediate effect. One of these licenses was under review with the UKGC.”

The news comes after Dunder Casino, operated by MT SecureTrade, announced that it will be permanently closing its online casino website in the UK at the end of October. The website is currently no longer accepting new registrations nor deposits from players based in the UK and will be disabling all withdrawals and logins from UK players on October 30th, with players being urged to register at an alternative casino website.

However, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom as operator Genesis Global Limited was given the green-light to resume its gambling operations in the UK after having its operating license suspended back in July. The operator was forced to temporarily close all websites in the UK including Genesis Casino but was allowed to reopen all casino sites this month after its suspension was lifted by the Commission.

 William Hill Warns Of Profit Loss

Meanwhile, British bookmaker William Hill has warned that its profits will continue to dive as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns which have led to 10 of the firm’s betting shops to temporarily close. According to William Hill, the firm will lose around £2 million in earnings as a result of its betting shop closures.

According to reports, around 10% of all William Hill betting shops are located in regions which have had new lockdown restrictions imposed on them by the UK Government. The affected areas include Manchester which is home to around 8% of the bookmaker’s shops, Liverpool, and South Yorkshire where all casino venues and betting shops are required to close for four weeks, affecting around 900 staff.

In a brief statement addressing the revenue loss and recent betting shop closures, a spokesperson for William Hill has said: “As governments vary their response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will continue to mitigate the impact on our business through careful cost control and cash management.”

William Hill’s £2 million estimated loss doesn’t include wage support that could be offered by the Government. The company is in the process of being bought by US brick-and-mortar casino operator Caesars who has stated it will be selling William Hill’s European-facing business. Betfred and 888 Holdings have expressed interest in purchasing the business.

Meanwhile, other brick-and-mortar gambling brands have announced permanent venue closures and job losses including Buzz Bingo, Grosvenor Casino, and Genting Casino too, all as a result of the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown which forced casinos and betting shops to remain closed for several months along with all other non-essential businesses.

The Commission’s Gambling Revenue Report

The news of closures in both the online and brick-and-mortar casino markets comes as the UK Gambling Commission confirms a decline in gambling between March and August 2020. The report, which the Commission published last week, reveals that the number of bets made in August had fallen by 2%, that the number of active customers gambling had dropped by 7%, and that there had been a 12% decrease in the number of people betting on real events.

In addition, the Gambling Commission also revealed that the number of online slot sessions lasting more than an hour had decreased by 7%, with more people choosing to play for an average of 21 minutes. While most gambling dropped, the Commission reported an 11% increase in the number of customer interactions undertaken by gambling operators.

The Commission reiterated its commitment to protecting players, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The regulatory body confirmed that it continues to assess guidance issued to gambling operators while also supporting both the brick-and-mortar and online casino industries.

During the UK’s first lockdown, the Commission imposed new rules which prohibit gambling operators to allow reverse withdrawals. The rules also implemented additional restrictions to casino promotions and bonuses and required operators to conduct additional affordability checks. Shortly before lockdown, the Commission implemented a ban on credit cards for gambling and, more recently, announced new rules to “stamp out” VIP scheme malpractice.