NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage: Every generation is witness to some type of earth-shattering developments, many from which investors can benefit. For the demographics that made up the Depression Era, the world may have moved slower than today, but those decades still gave way to monumental breakthroughs such as insulin, television, solar cells, antibiotics, hard drives and much more — even sliced bread. From Gen X forward, the internet became part of everyday life, with one technology accelerating the development of the next to reshape how the world functions. Online shopping effected physical malls so significantly that Newsweek declared them obsolete in 2008. In fairness, no change in a multitrillion-dollar industry happens overnight, and brick-and-mortar store sales still outstrip those online, but ecommerce sales continues to grow each year. Those who missed the early days of ecommerce can take heart that new technologies are disrupting other huge industries, including the gaming market. In the business-to-business segment, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology company Playgon Games Inc. (TSX.V: DEAL) (OTCQB: PLGNF) (Profile) is emerging as a leader, developing and licensing unique digital content for the iGaming market for companies. The market is massive in scale, with companies and consumers clamoring for gaming content from the likes of Playgon, Rush Street Interactive Inc. (NYSE: RSI), MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM), Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) and Evolution ADR (OTC: EVVTY), especially after the COVID-19 pandemic shook the market hard, causing a spike in users that caught many gaming providers off guard.
- Grandview Research estimates that global online gaming revenue stood at $75 billion in 2021 and will reach $127.3 billion by 2027.
- With its mobile-first, streaming, high-definition platform, Playgon is disrupting the $6 billion live-dealer casino market.
- Playgon has already cleared the high barrier of market entry, with its platform of more than two dozen live operators in Europe and South Africa.
- Playgon offers a complementary suite of eTable games and is also in the $20 billion DFS market with turnkey product for daily fantasy sports.
Double-Digit Growth Ahead
According to industry analyst firm Grandview Research, the global online gaming industry, or iGaming as it’s frequently called, presently generates approximately $75 billion in revenue each year. Grandview forecasts 11.94% compound annual growth from 2021 to 2026, predicting the industry will reach $127.3 billion by 2027. Growth drivers abound, including the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing and evolving regulations, technological developments and incessant consumer demand, with Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) now the largest generation.
This generation, comprised of 72.3 million people in America alone, is complemented by 67.1 million Gen Z’ers, a group that would barely recognize a world void of iGaming. Better yet for businesses, the 135.6 million Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers are becoming increasingly familiar and comfortable with a digitized world, as measured by 21% of respondents aged 45 to 64 in a Statista survey reporting they are gamers and 7% over 65 years old saying they are too.
Last year will live in infamy for the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic on a global scale. Lockdown orders went into effect in most countries, leaving people shuttered in their homes to eat, sleep, work and entertain as “nonessential” businesses were forced to close for months on end owing to fears of contagion. Not surprisingly, online gaming experienced a boom in demand and disruption that will never be undone, as cutting-edge streaming gaming content moving into the forefront to satisfy gamers appetite from a safe distance.
Playgon Games Inc. (TSX.V: DEAL) (OTCQB: PLGNF) is emerging on the other end of the pandemic stronger than ever with new gaming content delivered to new customers. In fact, while many companies folded under the pressures of the pandemic, Playgon matured, now employing more than 80 staffers who are developing, selling and servicing turnkey products and offering a multitenant gateway that allows online operators the ability to offer their customers innovative iGaming software solutions.
Playgon offers a diverse software platform that includes live-dealer casino games, eTable games and daily fantasy sports. Through frictionless integration at the operator level, DEAL clients are afforded easy, secure access to the platform without sharing or compromising any sensitive customer information.
Recognizing desktops are a fading consumer trend, with 2021 market share projections showing that 59% of global gaming revenue will come from mobile phones. Playgon has centered its platform on mobile, using leading-edge tech to build and deliver content. As one of the few pure B2B digital content providers clearly differentiated from peers, Playgon enjoys the fact that is has zero customer acquisition costs, which is great for margins. Current and future DEAL customers include online casinos, sportsbook operators, land-based operators, media groups and big database companies, just to name a few.
Give ‘Em What They Want: Live Dealers
Gamers and gamblers alike crave that feeling of being at a venue. To that point, legacy gaming technology was lacking until the invention of live-dealer games, which continue to grow in popularity. The growth is evidenced in the numbers, which show a market segment at an inflection point and serving as a driver for the broader online casino industry.
The young live-dealer online casino market is estimated to be on track to expand 60% from $5 billion in 2019 to $8 billion in 2023. The market is dominated by three companies – Evolution Gaming, Microgaming and Playtech – although this trio generally offers products that are somewhat similar and often look alike with no clear standout product.
Playgon intends to capitalize where others have moderated. Playgon has stepped up the game in a number of ways, starting with a proprietary mobile user interface and user experience that replaces outdated technology of peers that primarily was designed for desktop units. Featuring the most advanced products to date, the company launched its studio in Las Vegas featuring 10 live tables and three auto tables that deliver streaming video of live-dealer content in high definition for its virtual patrons to play along. DEAL’s platform uses state-of-the-art AR (augmented reality) gambling technology. Live dealers are available for players of some of the most popular table games Vegas has to offer, namely blackjack, roulette, baccarat and Playgon’s proprietary Tiger Bonus Baccarat(TM).
Moreover, Playgon has taken a page from successful SaaS companies in moving its platform to the cloud for accessibility and scalability. All DEAL games are mobile focused, work on any device and are built for portrait-mode, one-handed play. While many companies plan to do similar things, DEAL has done them.
The company hurdled the high barriers to entry in the iGaming market, with its new platform now live under contracts with multiple online casino operators through four content aggregator clients in South Africa and Europe. More are expected to be onboarded in the coming months, according to DEAL management. In aggregate, Playgon products are live today with 26 operators, a number that will rise to 34 as soon as 8 more operators complete integration of the technology.
While the initial focus has been on the highly sought-after live-dealer games, Playgon also offers eTable versions of the four aforementioned games that include gaming features unique to each. At the same time, Playgon developers are working on a suite of 25 more games, comprised of popular table games such as craps, 3-card poker and hold ‘em poker that will be added to the product lineup.
Getting in the $20 Billion DFS Mix
Playgon’s portfolio of offerings also include daily fantasy sports (“DFS”) games. These games, whose popularity has evolved into a social phenomenon that spawned a global army of die-hard fantasy sports players from every walk of life.
DFS is simply an abridged version of season-long fantasy leagues, where teams draft players from different organizations (a virtual all-star team of sorts) and then compete against other teams with scoring based upon what the player does in real-life games. The difference with DFS is it has a much shorter duration, often only a couple hours with players picked from two opposing teams. According to Research & Markets, the global fantasy sports market is expected to grow from $20.36 billion in 2020 to $22.31 billion in 2021.
Much like its gambling casino gambling products, Playgon has its own premium B2B fantasy sports platform that its operator clients can license. Custom designed for regulated markets, the DFS platform initially caters to soccer (or football for those outside the U.S.) and golf.
More specifically, the platform integrates players, games and data from five European football leagues — the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, La Liga — as well as the PGA and European golf tours. Adding DFS provides operators the opportunity to attract gamers that normally wouldn’t visit their platform for cross-sale, in addition to the opportunity to collect additional data that can be used to optimize operations, grow sales, and widen profit margins.
Speaking of Margins and Revenue…
Whereas B2C (business-to-consumer) companies often spend large to acquire and keep players, Playgon is free from this capital burden. Playgon generates revenue through a SaaS license model in which iGaming operators from around the world license DEAL’s fully integrated live casino solutions.
Over time, SaaS has emerged as the business model of choice where one-time sales are replaced by recurring licensing and support fees. SaaS licenses typically generate much higher margin revenue than straight sales. In the case of Playgon, the company’s fees range from 6%–12% of gross gaming revenue, defined as the player’s bet minus the player’s win before operating expenses. Where a customer lands in the range is dependent on different factors, such as addressable market size.
In addition, Playgon’s leadership team cannot go overlooked or understated for what it brings to the table. CEO Darcy Krogh cofounded Chartwell Technology, a TSX-listed company that pioneered browser-based digital content for the iGaming market. Amaya (now called Stars Group) acquired Chartwell in 2011, keeping Krogh as VP of business development until the B2B asset portfolio of the company was sold to NYX Gaming Group in 2016. Krogh left for his next endeavor as founder of Global Daily Fantasy Sports, which has evolved into Playgon Games.
The executive team also includes chief product officer Guido Ganschow, an expert in live-dealer technology with more than 13 years of direct experience, including the cofounding of a Macau-based casino consortium. Playgon’s chief operating officer Steve Baker was previously the VP of operations at Shaw Communications where he was instrumental in growing the company from 350 employees to more than 13,000 and annual revenue growth from $300 million to $2.8 billion.
A Really Big Sandbox
At $75 billion and growing nearly 12% per year, the online gaming market is plenty big enough to support multiple winners. There is a common thread insomuch that companies, whether they are B2B, B2C, omni-channel or purely digital, are all moving quickly to monetize demand and win customers’ trust by integrating the latest technology that ensures functionality and security encased in premium user interfaces and experiences.
Rush Street Interactive Inc. (NYSE: RSI) last month was named iGaming Operator of the Year for North America at the Gaming Intelligence Awards 2021. The Awards highlight the most successful operators and suppliers around the world. The Gaming Intelligence Award isn’t the only global recognition RSI has recently received. The company was recognized as Sportsbook of the Year at the SBC Latinoamérica Awards 2021 last month and is on the short list Casino Operator of the Year, Social Operator of the Year and Leader of the Year at the SBC Awards North America to be held this month.
MGM Resorts International’s (NYSE: MGM) sports betting and iGaming operator, BetMGM, just announced the opening of the BetMGM Sportsbook at Vee Quiva. BetMBM is partnering with Gila River Hotels & Casinos for the first opening of a BetMGM retail sportsbook in Arizona and Phoenix’s first in-casino sportsbook. The BetMGM Sportsbook at Vee Quiva boasts 25 large screen displays, a massive media wall and seating for more than 100 guests. Guests can view games and events from all major U.S. and international sports. The sportsbook also features 20 betting kiosks and ticket writers present to assist guest with placing bets.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) launched an initiative to invest in digital opportunities earlier this year. The effort is aimed to position the company as a strategic investor in digital gaming technologies, focused primarily in the B2B business space. As part of the effort, the company is putting together a digital gaming investment team. “Sands is determined to grow its leadership position within the industry and is committed to doing that through strategic steps we think best position the company for future growth,” said Sands chair and CEO Robert Goldstein.
Evolution ADR (OTC: EVVTY) recently launched Lightning Blackjack, the latest addition to its award-winning Lightning game series. The new offering is available in both live and first-person versions, and is a unique, electrifying, scalable version of blackjack that features enhanced, multiplied payouts. First-person Lightning Blackjack is a superior 3D-animated version of the game. Players enjoy the same exciting gameplay and chance of multiplied payouts but in an RNG-based game that includes a Go-live button that can take them directly to the live-dealer Lightning Blackjack table.
The fact is that many gamblers will say that nothing can replace the sights, sounds and excitement of a casino. However, there’s a change in sentiment that picked up some strong tailwinds during the pandemic. Technology is bringing the feel of a live casino to a player’s living room, and while bricks-and-mortar casinos aren’t going anywhere, both gamblers and investors alike are astutely aware of the fun and money to be had in the world of virtual gaming.
For more information about Playgon Games, please visit Playgon Games Inc.
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