The social casino market has shrunk in recent years, and a smaller number of larger providers are embroiled in a battle for market dominance. Many have seen social as a distraction.

Even market leaders such as IGT and Caesars Interactive have decided to exit the market, selling off DoubleDown Interactive and Playtika respectively. All the while, Aristocrat has been enjoying strong organic growth.

Digital revenue for its 2017 financial year was up 37 per cent to AUD$383m, thanks to the continued success of Heart of Vegas and the newly-launched Cashman Casino. Daily active users (DAUs) increased by 36 per cent to 1,729,859, with average revenue per DAU climbing 26 per cent to US$0.53. A deal to acquire Product Madness arguably slipped under the radar, but now looks like one of the most shrewd moves ever taken in the sector.

Playtika's growth was driven in part by bolt-on acquisitions. DoubleDown had begun to decline before its acquisition by DoubleU Games.

Aristocrat has kept pace entirely through organic growth. Now, as it looks to expand through M&A, it threatens to outstrip its rivals. In 2017 it snapped up strategy gaming specialist Plarium and Big Fish Games, giving it a casual gaming business. It is developing a product portfolio that is to become a major player in a number of free-to-play verticals, not just social casino.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: ZYNGA

 

GIA 2018 Winners:

Sports betting operator of the year - Sky Betting & Gaming
Poker operator of the year - PokerStars
Bingo operator of the year - Stride Gaming
Casino operator of the year - PokerStars Casino
Lottery operator of the year - La Française des Jeux
One to watch – operator award - VideoSlots
Operator innovation award - The Stars Group - Stars Rewards
eSports operator of the year - Pinnacle
Marketing campaign of the year - LeoVegas - Hitta.se
Social casino supplier of the year - Scientific Games
Sports betting supplier of the year - SBTech
Poker supplier of the year - Playtech
Bingo supplier of the year - Playtech
Marketing solutions provider of the year - Beehive 
Casino supplier of the year - NetEnt
Game of the year - Playtech - Age of the Gods
Supplier innovation award - Scientific Games OneVoice
Lottery supplier of the year - Scientific Games
One to watch – supplier award - Red Tiger Gaming
eSports supplier of the year - Betgenius
Responsible gambling operator of the year - NO ONE 

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