NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage: Almost everything in the online gaming market produces eye-popping numbers. Even pre-COVID, online gambling was accelerating at a brisk pace as ever more people discovered mobile apps and demand surged with the younger tech-savvy demographic. Enter the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and millions more people suddenly became familiar with remote gaming. Operators were caught off guard by the tsunami of demand and continue to scramble to capture market share in the booming digital sector. As the technology continues to gain ground and more effectively recreate the casino experience, companies with innovative technologies and insight, such as Playgon Games Inc. (TSX.V: DEAL) (OTCQB: PLGNF) (Profile), are providing operators with a variety of new turnkey packages to capitalize on strong consumer demand. Other players in the space, including Bragg Gaming Group Inc. (NASDAQ: BRAG), DraftKings Inc. (NASDAQ: DKNG), Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) and Wynn Resorts Limited (NASDAQ: WYNN), are also focused on making the most of a variety of opportunities in the burgeoning online gambling market.
- Total gambling revenue worldwide is forecast to reach $525 billion in 2023, with online gambling expected to climb to $92.9 billion.
- Playgon develops, licenses its software platform and suite of games, including HD-quality live streaming dealer casino games and multiplayer e-table games.
- Playgon’s live-dealer technology went live in May 2021, exploding to 23 operators and processing more than $54 million in bets by October.
- Seasoned leadership team has now onboarded 30 operators, raised $10.5 million for growth, and is preparing to enter the coveted U.S. online betting market.
Online Gambling Growth Outstripping Broad Market
Hard numbers provide some clarity to the outsized growth of online gambling (sometimes called iGaming). In 2019, total online gambling revenue was $58.9 billion, forecast to nearly double and reach $92.9 billion in 2023. At the same time, mobile online gambling revenue will grow even faster, jumping from $24.8 billion to $42.5 billion. Even with the tremendous growth, the online segment is still only a small percentage of the total gambling revenue (both land bases and online), which is expected to reach $525 billion next year. However, online gambling has gained traction, capturing growing market share, and big-name Vegas casinos are going all in.
Nevada isn’t the only state paying attention. Since the federal government legalized online betting in 2018, states are increasingly warming up to the idea of online gaming, looking to seize a revenue and job-creation opportunity. To date, more than 30 states have abandoned moribund laws blocking online gambling and are now either live or in the process of launching sports betting and iGaming. According to MGM, the total addressable North American market (“TAM”) will reach $27.5 billion per year, broken down into $14 billion in online sports betting and $13.5 billion in iGaming. iGaming by definition involves any betting online on games of chance.
Technology Is Pivotal
The technology infrastructure that is foundational to operators that offer live dealer content is a bit of an oligopoly, dominated by Evolution Gaming, Playtech and Microgaming.
Playgon Games Inc. (TSX.V: DEAL) (OTCQB: PLGNF) is the savvy upstart, recognizing that the current suppliers have overlooked mobile and offer largely the same or generically similar products. This pioneering Software-as-a-Service (“SaaS”) company has taken a business-to-business (“B2B”) strategy to provide a multitenant gateway allowing online operators the ability to offer their customers innovative iGaming software solutions that outclass the competition. Playgon prides itself on innovation, modernizing live dealer games while developing designs specifically for mobile, rather than desktop like most peers, making a superior user interface (“UI”) and user experience (“UX”).
With a B2B model, Playgon doesn’t get involved with consumers, which can cripple margins at the hands of high customer acquisition costs and marketing costs. Rather, the company develops and licenses its software platform and suite of games that include four live-dealer casino games (HD-quality streaming content from its studio Live from Las Vegas), four multiplayer e-table games (with nine more in development), Playgon’s innovative platform is built for seamless integration at the operator level without compromising any sensitive customer data.
From aesthetics to performance, Playgon offers the most advanced and ingenious mobile offering in the live-dealer space. The company’s live-dealer games currently include Blackjack, Baccarat, Tiger Bonus Baccarat (a proprietary game of Playgon) and Roulette. Management was mindful in its design, using ProgressiveWeb App technology to make the product device and store agnostic. By focusing on mobile, Playgon was able to enhance the player UI and UX, which attracts the most sought-after player segment, those that can return remotely.
Playgon went so far as to build its technology to allow for portrait mode only play, meaning games can easily be played with one hand on a mobile phone. Top it off with realistic graphics and live streamed dealers, and architecture built on cloud-based technology for robustness, scalability and high-speed play, Playgon is capturing the attention of online operators, casinos, sportsbooks, and even big database companies.
More Customers, More Players
With the incumbents controlling most of the market and a strict regulatory environment, there are high barriers to entry into the iGaming space. Playgon has cleared the hurdles on the strength of its technology as evidenced by its growing client base and increased player activity following the award of its Malta Gaming Authority License last March. The license gave the green light to Playgon partner SWINTT Malta Ltd, a fast-growing iGaming content supplier and subsidiary of Glitnor Group, to offer the Playgon suite of products to its online gaming operator customers.
Subsequently, international deal flow has been steady. Playgon went live in South Africa with its partner Intelligent Gaming (“PTY”) Ltd. By June, six operators were onboarded, hosting more than 220,000 bets and 6,000-plus unique visitors in the first month of operations, with a seventh operator onboarded at the end of the month. Come August of last year, and the number of operators leveraging Playgon’s Vegas Lounge live-dealer platform was up to 14. In September, SWINTT onboarded three more operators. By October things were starting to hop. The number of live operators stood at 23, and Playgon’s platform had exploded to $54 million in player betting turnover in the first half of the month, up from $1.6 million for the entire month of September. Since the end of October, 7 more live operators have been onboarded, bringing the total overseas to 30.
Savvy Team Leads Expansion into Lucrative U.S. Market
Playgon is led by CEO Darcy Krogh, an iGaming industry vet with more than 20 years senior-level management experience, including founding iGaming pioneer Chartwell Technology in 1999, which he subsequently sold to Amaya Gaming Group in 2011. He served as VP of Amaya post merger, ultimately facilitating the sale of the B2B asset portfolio to NYX Gaming Group in 2015.
A recognized subject matter expert in developing real-time, live-dealer tech and platforms, Playgon Interactive president Guido Ganschow successfully built and launched state-of-the-art iGaming technology throughout Asia and Europe.
Playgon COO Steve Baker was previously VP of operations for Shaw Communications, managing M&A activity and spurring sales growth from $300 million to $2.8 billion.
The acumen of the team is evidenced in the stellar international growth and domestic growth should easily follow. In October, Playgon hit a major milestone in going live with Solid Gaming, a Bally’s Corporation company. Bally’s is a big hitter, and after months of work customizing, integrating, and testing with the Solid Gaming integration team to ensure performance, Playgon got rave reviews and is now live with Bally’s Solid gaming. To meet demand and continue expansion, Playgon opened a private placement in October to raise $5.0 million, but due to strong interest, the raise was increased with the company raising $10.5 million, which is likely to increase Playgon’s velocity and entry to the U.S. markets.
News about Playgon penetrating the U.S. iGaming market should come soon. The company has engaged Duane Morris LLP to represent it in its application process to license its live-dealer technology in legal markets throughout the country. The play is to first submit applications in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The U.S. is a coveted market that is regulating quickly since 2018 for online gaming, with a projected TAM of $27.5 billion per year and includes about 400 casino hotels and 465 nonhotel casinos. Based on those numbers, interest in Playgon’s new technology should be extremely high.
Other players are paying attention to the online gambling market, making moves to leverage their expertise and strengthen their positions, both in the United States and around the world.
Bragg Gaming Group Inc. (NASDAQ: BRAG) is a global gaming technology and content group and owner of leading B2B iGaming companies. The company offers full turnkey solutions in North American, European and other regulated international markets. Most recently, the company debuted its exclusive iGaming content in the Czech Republic in partnership with SYNOT Group, via its SYNOT INTERACTIVE platform, marking its debut in the country and strengthening its presence in central Europe. The announcement marks Bragg’s sixth new market entry in the last 10 months.
DraftKings Inc. (NASDAQ: DKNG) has a vision to build the best, most-trusted and most customer-centric destination for skin-in-the-game fans; to develop the most innovative and entertaining real money products and offers; and to forever transform the manner in which people experience sports. As part of that plan, the company launched its mobile sportsbook in Louisiana in January. With the launch, Louisiana became the 17th state to offer DraftKings’ online sportsbook, and the company is now live in 18 states including retail-only jurisdictions.
Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) offers Penn Interactive, the online gaming arm of the company. Penn Interactive is focused on creating the best online gaming customer experience available using creative outreach, innovative product design and world-class engineering. Penn Interactive operates the mobile and desktop apps mychoicecasino.com, Viva Slots and HollywoodRaces.com, which offer more than 100 of the most exciting online Vegas-style slots that can be played for free on any device and easy wagering for horse racing online, respectively.
Wynn Resorts Limited (NASDAQ: WYNN) online gambling offering is WynnBET, which has a world-class collection of casino and sports-betting mobile options for discerning players who understand the difference between placing a bet and experiencing a bet. The company announced last year that WynnBET opened its mobile sports book in Tennessee, marking the sixth state where the app has launched in less than nine months. With the announcement, the WynnBET app became available for download anywhere in Tennessee on Apple and Android devices.
Already generating tens of billions in revenue, there are multiple drivers that support analyst’s calls for the online gaming market to soon cross $100 billion globally. The pandemic only accelerated the online action as new users gravitate to iGaming. The trend is now a pattern, and it will continue to drive consumer demand going forward.
For more information about Playgon Games, please visit Playgon Games Inc.
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