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Mobile gaming platform Paytm First Games, a subsidiary of Paytm, in its financial statements for FY 2020, reported ₹19.4 Crores in revenue, a 55% year-on-year (YOY) increase. On the flip side, the gaming startup reported a net loss of 224% through the said period.
Pennsylvania is the most recent US state to allow online poker. GGPoker, the world’s third-biggest online poker site, and its parent company NSUS has obtained a manufacturing license in the state.
In international updates, Entain Plc, formerly known as GVC Holdings, is looking to acquire the Baltic gambling operator, Enlabs. While most of Enlabs’ shareholders have approved the transaction, Entain has extended the acceptance period to March 18 as it hasn’t been able to obtain all the required regulatory approvals.
In the Netherlands, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration is offering a tax refund to PokerStars.eu players who were charged gambling taxes since 2012, ending a long-standing legal feud with poker players.
Business is gradually getting back on track in the world’s biggest gambling hub, Nevada. Governor Steve Sisolak has permitted poker rooms and other businesses to increase their gatherings to 35% capacity and intends to increase it to 50% capacity by May 1.
Paytm First Reports 224% Net Loss in FY20 Despite 55% YoY Revenue Growth
Despite the numerous setbacks, 2020 proved to be an immensely profitable year for gaming operators. In line with the trend, fantasy gaming startup Paytm First Games has reported an impressive 55% year-on-year (YOY) increase in revenue – to the tune of ₹19.4 Crores. At the same time, it saw its total expenses increasing even more significantly, resulting in a net loss of 224%.
According to an Inc42 report, Paytm First Games, in its latest filings, reported operational revenues of ₹17 Crores that included the company’s income from contests run on the Paytm First Games, advertisements, and in-app purchases, and affiliate commission. During the same period, the fantasy gaming firm witnessed a 205% increase in total expenses from ₹39.14 Crores in the financial year 2019 to ₹119.34 Crores in the financial year 2020, bringing its net loss up by 224%, from ₹29.87 Crores to ₹97 Crores.
The January 2018-launched company is a subsidiary of One97 Communications that owns and operates the digital payments firm Paytm. The company was rebranded as Paytm First Games in 2019.
The COVID-19 induced lockdown last year was godsent for gaming operators and brought renewed interest in the sector. Looking to capitalize on the trend, Paytm First Games in September roped in India’s cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador. Paytm First Games and its parent brand PayTM faced a small roadblock when they were removed from Google Play Store for gambling violations the same month; the issue was later resolved.
In its filings, the company claims it witnessed over 75,000 new user signups every day during the lockdown months, noting – “With more people staying home, there has been a significant increase in the number of playing users, visitors and transactions on the company’s platform.”
The significant losses aside, the company has projected consistent revenue growth through 2021. Paytm First Games has even made several pivotal expansion plans that include setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary firm in China.
GGPoker Parent Firm NSUS Gets State License in Pennsylvania, Still to Announce Launch Date
Looking to expand into the US market, GGPoker’s parent company NSUS has obtained a manufacturing license in Pennsylvania. NSUS was awarded the state license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in a meeting on February 10.
The company reps told PokerNews: “The GGPoker team has been preparing for eventual entry to the US market. It’s been a great process thus far working with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Obtaining a license to operate in Pennsylvania would be an important step towards reaching our US goals.”
Even with a manufacturer’s license, GGPoker’s eventual launch in the Keystone state will likely be a long drawn process. To launch its own poker site in Pennsylvania, the company will need to obtain an operator’s license. Currently, NSUS can help other local licensees with their online gaming portals but cannot launch independently. The company is reportedly trying to work its way around the limitations.
Once an Asia-facing gaming operator, GGPoker has taken the online poker industry by storm in the past year, undertaking a massive expansion to emerge as the world’s third-biggest online poker operator.
In 2019, GGPoker exited all unregulated markets in Europe to focus on regulated markets. Last year, the site played host to a hugely successful inaugural 2020 WSOP Online Series.
Along with widening its user base, the brand has, in the past two years, onboarded six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu, Pokercode co-founder Fedor Holz and the self-proclaimed “King of Instagram” Dan Bilzerian as brand ambassadors.
The operator’s entry into Pennsylvania will undoubtedly shake up PokerStars’ feathers currently the only poker operator in Pennsylvania, with WSOP.com expected to start dealing hand in the state before the summer.
Entain Extends Acceptance Period For Enlabs Bid to March 18
Gaming giant Entain Plc, formerly GVC Holdings, has extended the acceptance period for the proposed acquisition of Enlabs by a month to March 18. Entain has filed applications to obtain the necessary approvals for regulatory, government, and other clearances. The company noting that these approvals would take longer than the earlier stipulated timeline of February 18, extended the acceptance period.
Entain had offered to acquire the Baltic-facing gambling operator Enlabs for a cash offer of £250m (€285.1m/$345.7m) on January 7. This was in line with its growth strategy to enter locally regulated markets where it doesn’t have a presence.
On January 20, Entain made its full offer, offering to pay SEK40 (£3.48/€3.97/$4.81) for Enlabs’ 69.9 Million shares. The company also announced that it did not plan to facilitate any material change to the operations, management or employees of Enlabs.
The offer has received the approval of Entain’s board and shareholders, who own 42.2% of Enlabs. Another group of shareholders representing 10.7% of Enlabs has rejected the bid because it “materially undervalues” the business. One of them, Alta Fox Capital Management that owns 3.34% of Enlabs’ total shares, stated that it did not plan to tender any shares at the offer price of 40 SEK/share.
Dutch Tax Authorities Offer to Refund Taxes to Pokerstars.Eu Players
In what comes as a significant victory for the poker community in the Netherlands, the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration, aka Belastingdienst, has offered a settlement agreement with PokerStars Europe players. The Administration has offered to refund the gambling taxes they were charged in the last nine years.
The decision comes after a long round of legal proceedings contesting the location of the PokerStars.eu website. In January 2019, a Dutch court had exempted poker players from paying European taxes on PokerStars’ winnings since the company was based out of Malta. The proceedings had resulted in inconsistent decisions since some players would get their money back, but others would not.
The tax authorities are now offering players a tax refund if they sign a settlement agreement. The tax office will perform a per-client assessment and tax refund for players who reclaim the taxes they paid on winnings on PokerStars.eu since May 30, 2012. However, the agreement requires players to accept that they’re liable for taxes on winnings made on PokerStars’ French network.
Reacting to the news, Dutch Poker Hall of Fame member and Head of Content, CasinoNieuws, Frank Op de Woerd, said, “This is a huge win for the Dutch poker community after years and years of litigation. I’m delighted that there’s now a workable deal on the table that’s advantageous for the majority of poker players involved. It brings clarity to an obfuscated and complicated situation where players from one part of the country had a different set of rules to live by than others.”
The settlement comes when the country is on the anvil of bringing in a new gambling regulation that will go live on April 1. Real money online poker is expected to go live in the country by October this year.
Las Vegas Poker Rooms to Increase Capacity, Governor Sisolak Announces Timeline for Lifting Restrictions
Nevada governor Steve Sisolak has permitted poker rooms and other businesses to increase their guest capacity from 25% to 35%. In an address on Thursday, Sisolak detailed a timeline for lifting COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada, starting Monday up to May 1, when the decision-making authority will pass on from the state to local governments.
“Even when we move to local management, specific statewide protocols will remain in place to mitigate the spread, including but not limited to the mask mandate and other social distancing requirements,” Sisolak said.
Sisolak outlined that restrictions will be gradually lifted Monday onwards, and businesses can increase gatherings from 50 to 100, i.e., 35% capacity. Starting March 15, gathering restrictions will further relaxed to allow 50% capacity or a gathering of up to 250 people.
Furthermore, restaurants and bars will no longer require reservations, and up to six people would be allowed to sit at a table. However, strip clubs and other clubs will remain closed until May 1.
This announcement comes in the wake of a decline in the COVID-19 cases and a rollout of vaccines in Nevada.