This was the most fiercely contested Gaming Intelligence Awards yet, as operators and suppliers scaled new heights during the past year. Congratulations to one and all.
Poker Supplier of the Year
Playtech’s biggest achievement of the year was the merger of its French and Spanish regulated market networks – a vital task in preparation for the introduction of shared liquidity between these countries.
Playtech is partnered with six major operators – Betclic and Unibet in France, and Bet365, Betfair, Casino Barcelona and Sportium in Spain – to create the largest B2B poker network across the two countries. With Portugal and Italy also ready to go, you can expect more operators to join the network in 2019.
This was the single biggest differentiator from its competitors, but one other is that it remains the single biggest poker network in the industry. It continues to invest in a vertical that has struggled in recent years and its latest innovation is to bring casino-style gambling to the poker room.
Whether this is through the hybrid missions based on events in its side games or its introduction of the hugely popular Age of Gods brand to poker. Playtech will not stand still and iPoker will benefit.
Runner up: Microgaming
Casino Supplier of the Year
Red Tiger Gaming
2018 was a breakthrough year for Red Tiger Gaming. It rode the success of its daily jackpots – a truly inspiring innovation – and ploughed through an impressive 30 integrations, with another 50 signed and waiting for delivery.
It should not be a long wait. Inspired by the large SAAS businesses from outside our industry, Red Tiger invested heavily in automating its integration process. In theory, any operator should be able to take Red Tiger content out of the box without the need for Red Tiger’s involvement. The direct result is an increase in the number of integrations from two to six each month.
However, it is not just weight of deals, it is the quality of the deals with Betsson, GVC, Kindred and Paddy Power Betfair all carving out exclusive real estate for Red Tiger content.
And it was not just the daily jackpots or the deals that inspired the judges. They praised Red Tiger’s in-game branding and other engagement tools. And, of course, it continues to churn out inspiring games. A truly world-class casino supplier has arrived.
Runners up: Blueprint Gaming / Playtech / Yggdrasil
Lottery Supplier of the Year
Scientific Games Lottery
Scientific Games has had a stellar year, with growing European dominance complementing its market leadership in North America.
This year it launched the first full-scale sports betting platform in the US with the Delaware Lottery, and also rolled out complete lottery solutions for Swisslos in Switzerland and Szerencsejáték in Hungary.
SG’s expertise allows it to develop highly innovative digital lottery products such as the Pennsylvania Lottery’s first online/mobile games in May 2018, which recorded sales revenue of over $100m by October and is considered the most commercially successful iLottery launch in the US.
IWG and NeoPollard Interactive ran SG close this year but the supplier’s sheer weight of numbers and innovations like its new SciQ retail system keep it ahead of the competition.
Runners up: IWG / NeoPollard Interactive
Bingo Supplier of the Year
Playtech has continued to produce the best original and branded content titles for bingo operators. It provides brands like Gala, Mecca and William Hill with a range of fresh and compelling titles available across the Playtech Bingo network.
The company has also added to its side games roster, with its award-winning Age of the Gods casino brand now expanded to bingo, complete with themed lobby and slots, while its Dynamite Digger jackpot game brings an innovative new jackpot to the world of bingo slots.
Playtech has added to its tech capacities with the acquisition of Australian software house Eyecon, which has significantly strengthened its games selection and provides licensees with a portfolio of 70-plus cutting-edge games, including the popular Fluffy Favourites.
The group has also developed specific product ties with brands such as Gala, Sun Bingo and Mecca and continues to lead the way when it comes to tech excellence and product innovation.
Runner up: Microgaming
Game of the Year
Blueprint Gaming could have won this with any number of games – Buffalo Rising was another classic. But The Goonies scoops the coveted Game of the Year award for being an object lesson in how to create a winning branded game. Oh, and its numbers are pretty good, too!
The Goonies was the number one game for 85 per cent of UK operators in the first three weeks after launch. In that initial 21-day period, it was also the number one bonus game in terms of plays, turnover, GGR and users across all operators.
The Goonies has become a record-breaker for Blueprint, with the highest ever number of plays in one day across all partner operators and was the best performing launch ever with the UK’s number one operator. Blueprint deserves recognition for years of success, and with The Goonies it absolutely smashed it.
Runners up: Dragon’s Fire by Red Tiger Gaming / Sporting Legends by Playtech / Vikings go to Hell by Yggdrasil
Supplier Innovation Award
Playtech wins this award for its new Playtech Open Platform (POP), GPAS and Market Place suite. In combination, these features are looking to open Playtech up and ease the supply chain – allowing operators to pick and choose, and integrate any games they want with minimal fuss.
POP aims to be the ultimate in content aggregation technology, while GPAS (the Gaming Platform as a Service) puts incredible creative power in the hands of developers. Marketplace is a ground-breaking tool that acts as a single point of discovery for all the latest content.
Taken as a whole, they should bring an end to the walled garden approach that critics have often levelled at Playtech. This suite of tools is Playtech saying: “We listened and we acted.”
If this really is a revolution for Playtech, then it could be a revolution for the entire industry.
Runners up: Bet Builder from Betgenius / PulseBet by SBTech / SCiQ by Scientific Games
Virtual Sports Supplier of the Year
The judges were almost entirely unanimous in picking Inspired for this category. The virtual sports betting vertical has grown massively in recent years and Inspired Entertainment has led the way.
Thanks to its virtual channel, Inspired generates 15-20 per cent incremental revenues for operators and starting from the UK it has expanded its footprint into 30 markets worldwide, including Italy, Greece, China, Latin America, Eastern and Central Europe.
Inspired is Italy’s largest virtual sports supplier and generates €1bn revenue per year and around 25 per cent of in-shop revenue for operators there. It is live across 6,000 venues in China and nearly 4,000 OPAP venues in Greece. Inspired hasn’t stopped there, it signed major agreements with leading operators such as Paddy Power, Betstars and the Pennsylvania State Lottery, where its ‘1st Down’ virtual American football product has given a strong foothold in the US market. Its commercial growth and product innovation make it a clear winner.
Runners up: Betradar / Leap Gaming
Sports Betting Supplier of the Year
SBTech made great strides during the past year with its arrival in the US market and a string of contracts in Europe. Furthermore, it has continued to innovate, building out its product with innovations such as its PulseBet feature, and has continued to build its team.
The US market was where it was at for sports betting suppliers in 2018, and SBTech was one of the first out of the blocks, when it announced an agreement with Churchill Downs. The pair teamed up in Mississippi and New Jersey, and SBTech followed that up by agreeing a deal with New Jersey’s iGaming market leader Golden Nugget. If Stateside progress grabbed the attention, SBTech had already reinforced its reputation in the European lottery market. In early 2018, Danish state lottery Danske Spil selected SBTech as the full turnkey platform solution supplier for its new Youbet.dk brand.
Deals with the likes of Mansion and Bethard showed that SBTech will not lose focus on its core markets. To top it all off, SBTech closed the year with an extension to its deal with Czech lottery operator Sazka Group. Nobody made progress like SBTech in 2018.
Runners up: BetGenius / Playtech / SG Digital
One to Watch Supplier Award
Big Time Gaming
This was a fiercely contested category, with a number of smaller suppliers on the verge of a big breakthrough. However, Big Time Gaming scooped top prize after an outstanding year, when it could quite easily have made it onto the Casino Supplier of the Year shortlist.
Bonanza has truly usurped Starburst as the biggest game in the industry – showing no sign of slowing down almost two years on from launch. But there is no way chief executive Nik Robinson will allow his team to rest on its laurels, with content continuing to evolve with each new release. Don’t be surprised if Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, released in late-2018, becomes the biggest game of 2019.
Furthermore Big Time Gaming has embraced Twitch and YouTube live streaming, creating an event out of its game launches. And its MegaWays mechanic is so good that competitors like Blueprint Gaming and Red Tiger have licensed it.
Big Time is now setting its sights on the US market and it will not limit itself to the fledgling online market. It plans to deliver its slots into land-based casinos via server-based games while leaving the RTP unscathed. Truly one to watch.
Runners up: Booming Games / Relax Gaming / QTech
Gaming Intelligence Awards 2019 - Suppliers
Our thanks to our panel of judges and supporting sponsors