Things often quiet down in the iGaming industry during the run-up to Christmas. Indeed, the festive period is often one of quiet contemplation for operators and developers alike. And who can blame them? It’s been a pretty rough year for the online gambling sector as a whole, thanks to the paternalistic UK Gambling Commission and its relentless onslaught. Although the noble quango’s various diktats apply specifically to unfortunates residing in the UK, their effects are being felt elsewhere too. But NetEnt seems to be cracking on regardless.
The Swedish outfit is already renowned for its restlessness when it comes to casino game development. In November alone, the company released six casino games: Speed Baccarat Gold, Speed Baccarat Silver, Speed Baccarat, and The Trillionaire.
Accompanying these new releases were two slots that utilise the ubiquitous Megaways engine: Twin Spin and Divine Fortune. The integration of Big Time Gaming’s mechanic with Twin Spin received rave reviews from players upon release and continues to top the rankings on sites such as Slots Catalogue.
The retro-inspired original is considered a classic among gamers thanks to a no-frills base game and simple, albeit highly polished visuals. The new Megaways engine has enhanced play dramatically with the inclusion of a lucrative multiplier, extra pay-lines, and the famed cascading reels feature. Divine Fortune Megaways was unveiled last week and early indications suggest it’s going to be another hit.
NetEnt’s Chief Commercial Officer, Andy Whitworth was positively gleeful following the launch:
‘Divine Fortune is one of the most popular titles in NetEnt history and it’s great to reignite the game with the thrilling addition of Megaways. Twin Spin Megaways is our best release so far in 2020, but early data from Divine Fortune Megaways shows that it might not be for long. The combination of features makes this a title brimming with action and excitement. We’re sure the remake will be a big hit with players across the board.’
Then on Tuesday NetEnt announced a major new partnership with Buzz Bingo that will provide the UK’s largest bingo operator with full access to its entire slot game portfolio. The deal is a major coup for the Nordic developer which gains yet another channel in which to serve games to British punters. Once the integration has been finalised, Buzz Bingo customers will be able to play popular titles such as Gonzo's Quest and the incredibly dull but bafflingly popular Starburst.
Unsurprisingly, it was high-fives all around following news of the high-profile pact.
Said Buzz Bingo boss, Steven Shaves:
‘It’s great to finally have NetEnt content on buzzbingo.com. The game's content is first class and resonates incredibly well with our player audience. I’m excited to see what one of the industry’s very best content providers and Britain’s best bingo company can do together!’
Predictably, NetEnt CO Andy Whitworth offered a gushing reciprocation.
‘As a top name in the UK, it’s a great achievement to partner with Buzz Bingo and provides its customers with games that are known favourites among players. Our portfolio offers not only well-known hits but also new releases that meet demands for exciting content and will no doubt be top performers on Buzz Bingo.’
Coming to America
The Buzz Bingo agreement marks something of a departure for NetEnt, which has recently focused much of its efforts in establishing a foothold in the burgeoning US market. Emboldened by a Pennsylvania gaming licence, the company has struck deals with Las Vegas giant Scientific Games, Bostonian betting upstarts Draft Kings, and the bizarrely-named Cordish Company. It’s also released a slew of Red Tiger games through social gaming operator, Rush Street Interactive
The Evolution Revolution
In addition to the above developments is the small matter of an impending billion-dollar takeover by Evolution Gaming. Back in June, NetEnt accepted an acquisition offer in the region of SEK 19.6bn that will see the live dealer specialist take 90% control of NetEnt’s corporate shareholding.
The CMA, UKGC
However, the proposed deal had the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority in a bit of a hot mess. It immediately launched an investigation to decide whether the partnership might lessen the competition in the UK gambling sector (perhaps they should have investigated the Gambling Commission as well). Happily, for all concerned, the CMA granted its considered approval of the deal on November 16. Once final approval has been received by NetEnt’s shareholders, the acquisition is expected to be confirmed in early December.
So all in all, a rather eventful couple of months for Net Entertainment.