UK-listed bookmakers William Hill are reportedly backing a bid by NYX Gaming Group to acquire betting technology provider OpenBet.
On Saturday, the Telegraph reported that Hills was lending its financial clout to a bid by the Toronto-listed NYX to acquire OpenBet, which supplies technology to the majority of the UK’s top online gambling companies, including Hills.
OpenBet’s private equity owners Vitruvian Partners have reportedly engaged Morgan Stanley to handle the sale of the sports betting industry mainstay. Vitruvian is believed to be seeking upwards of £300m for OpenBet, a healthy premium on the £208m Vitruvian paid when it acquired OpenBet in 2011.
Also among the names bandied about as potential OpenBet suitors is rival gambling tech firm Playtech, which supplies online casino products to the majority of UK-listed firms. Hills and a number of other major UK operators are reportedly uneasy at the prospect of becoming overly dependent on Playtech, which has developed a sharp-elbowed reputation among some of its clients, including Hills, which ultimately felt the need to buy out its former partner in the William Hill Online joint venture.
William Hill has so far been only a bridesmaid in the UK’s recent gambling merger mania, which has seen Betfair join up with Paddy Power, Coral get married to Ladbrokes and GVC Holdings absorb Bwin.party. Hills did make a £744m bid for rival 888 Holdings but the offer was rejected by 888 stakeholders.
With a market cap of only around £65m, NYX is much smaller than OpenBet, but NYX has been on an expansionist tear, Last April, NYX acquired Amaya Gaming’s Chartwell and Cryptologic B2B software businesses, which followed the November 2014 acquisition of Amaya’s Ongame poker business. More recently, NYX acquired Belgrade-based tech firm eGaming Consulting and Montreal-based games developers Side City Studios.
Novibet is future ready with Microsoft Azure
Novibet is taking it to the next level with Microsoft Azure, banking on continuous innovation from Microsoft to support its development today and the company’s product visions for tomorrow.
In this rapidly evolving and highly competitive industry, GameTech operators like Novibet, must offer a fully featured Sportsbook and an attractive Casino offer, with improved personalization aiming to attract and retain players.
Novibet’s collaboration with Microsoft Azure is further strengthening its global market position and as the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Sotiris Haritos says: “Our target for moving to Microsoft Azure was twofold. First, we wanted to address the more pressing needs of adjusting to the growth we were experiencing, as at some point, it was clear that we had outgrown our infrastructure in our shared datacenter and secondly as we were looking at the future we wanted to have exactly this kind of flexibility we are currently enjoying and. To be able to spin out different environments in a completely automated way and have the infrastructure work for us and not the other way around. This is exactly what we have achieved with our move to Azure”.
Microsoft provided guidance and support for important stages of Novibet’s digital transformation, including migrating to the cloud and provided Novibet with technical guidance, governance and best practices by involving a team of Azure engineers to ensure a smooth transition. Matthew Scicluna, Director of Technical Operations in Malta was impressed with the support that his team got from Microsoft: “Azure Support offered a more personal approach, and it is easier for us to troubleshoot issues. When issues arise, escalating issues to Azure support really helped a lot. Other cloud platforms, take a more general approach to support. Azure has a vast global presence that will help us scale globally in the future”.
Adrian Gatt, Microsoft’s iGaming Business Development Manager for Greece, Cyprus and Malta, points out the value of the win-win alliance with Novibet: “Our mission as a team working with our customers is to ensure we are seen as a partner that enables them to make an increased impact on the market they are operating in – we do not want to be seen as just a vendor and cost-center. Novibet’s access to, and collaboration with, our highly skilled Azure architects and engineers was critical to the success in delivering the project but also in building the customers trust in us. We do not want our customers to be dependent on us, but we want them to be independent with us. Our close working collaboration with Novibet is testament to this approach.”
Scalability is the name of the game for Novibet and Scicluna explains: “With Azure, we can scale up in a matter of minutes. When we identify that there is an influx of players, we can scale up with no issues using specific DevOps tooling and hence maximizing the usage of Azure. Making use of Azure technologies ensures that whatever our demand, the solution will scale to cater for our spikes in traffic”.
The transition to Azure last March, has proved to be a source of growth and Haritos is stressing the positive impact in the business: “What we’ve seen is exponential growth. The amount of growth that we have seen, is really significant. Furthermore, we have peace of mind in terms of platform stability with record KPIs and service level objectives. Also, the most important thing for our DevOps teams, is the visibility of the whole technology stack, something that we did not have before moving to Azure. So now we have a complete visibility of the network stack, of hardware resources, of practically everything. And that enabled us to be entirely aware of everything that is going on in our platform, giving us confidence for our day-to-day operations, as well as for our long term plans. Not to mention the optimization of our reaction time on different client demands. We are quicker to grow. We are quicker to scale up or scale out. Moving to Azure was definitely a big milestone for the company as a whole. It was very well received, and the benefits of this migration were acknowledged immediately by everyone. For our end users, everything was transparent and seamless, and at the end of the day, they were able to enjoy faster and more reliable services, which obviously contributes to the better user experience that we’re always aiming towards at Novibet”.
Sotiris Haritos briefly explains the challenges of the transition to Azure: “We were doing it live, in a sense that we had operations. We were transferring stuff and we kept everything transparent for our users. So, judging by the end result it was definitely a huge success story. The participation of Microsoft was really important and the local presence of the Microsoft team, their knowledge and their active participation were really pivotal for the success of this project”.
Novibet’s recent international distinctions for “Best In-House Product”, by EGR Operator Awards 2020 and “Best Mobile Operator App “, by SBC Awards 2020, are concrete proof of the operator’s technological superiority and the partnership with Microsoft Azure ensures further growth of the company.
William Hill rolls out ‘Judge Dredd’ slot from NYX
William Hill has announced the availability of ‘Judge Dredd’, a new omni-channel slot game developed by NYX Gaming Group’s proprietary games studio NextGen Gaming.
Based on the world famous ‘Judge Dredd’ series, the title will be made available across William Hill’s retail, mobile and online platforms on an exclusive basis.
The new title forms part of NextGen Gaming’s ‘Superbet’ slot series.
“This omni-channel launch with NYX allows for even more of our players to enjoy premium gaming content across our channels – that is exclusively in all of our UK shops, on the go via mobile and via traditional desktop,” William Hill’s head of product and content, Andrews Sackey, said.
David Johnson, commercial director at NYX, added: “High profile brands such as Judge Dredd, supported by best in breed NextGen game engines are invaluable for the acquisition and retention efforts of our operator partners and I’m confident the game will replicate its success online, instore.”
Unibet launches BetUP from Commologic
Unibet has agreed a deal to begin offering the BetUP second screen live betting game from Commologic.
Featuring a number of different gaming genres, the BetUP will be made available on Unibet’s desktop, mobile and tablet channels.
Commologic said the game has been designed to appeal to both existing players, as well as softer sports fans, educating them about in-play betting methods and techniques.
“Although sports betting is thriving, there has been very little innovation when it comes to softer, complementary products,” Commologic founder and chief executive, Tamir Berler, said
“BetUP is a fresh and innovative game that is entertaining and fun to play, while for operators it provides a new audience, high profit-margins, is risk free and extends session times and touch points.”
Erik Bäcklund, head of sportsbook at Unibet, added: “At Unibet we are very much focused on innovation and we believe that BetUP has great potential as a fan engagement tool.
“Both the online gaming industry and the way we consume media are changing and BetUP provides a friendly and entertaining second-screen live betting experience for casual players.
“We expect the product to be popular with existing customers, but also to act as a solid entry point for the less betting-savvy sports fans, who currently don’t bet online.”