NetEnt signs licensing agreement with Merkur Gaming Italia
People tend to spend more and more time and money online, consuming digital entertainment including online casino games and the global online gaming market is supported by ongoing migration from landbased gaming. However, NetEnt keeps on expanding in the land-based sector as well. Last year, the Swedish software developer entered the land-based casino gaming sector for the first time with William Hill, one of the world’s largest betting and gaming companies, to supply casino games to their licensed betting shops in the UK. Now NetEnt has announced it is about to enter another land-based casino gaming sector after signing an agreement to license gaming content to German gaming machine producer Gauselmann for use in the Italian retail market.
Italian Online Gaming market
Italy decided to regulate online gambling back in 2006, but it was at first that only standard gambling such as sports betting was allowed with only a handful of operators receiving an Italian casino license. In 2006, this restrictive stance was forced to change by the European Commission investigation after which another 33 online gaming licenses were granted mainly to large foreign-based online gaming operators, including Unibet and 888 Casino.
“The Abruzzo Decree” from April 2009 meant another huge turnover for the Italian online gambling industry leading to the legalisation of online fixed odds games of chance such as table games, video slots, and online poker.
Ever since the Italian market was reregulated, NetEnt has developed a close collaboration with the Italian regulator. Together with the Italian regulator, NetEnt actively tries to get unlicensed operators, with a focus on Italian players, to acquire a casino license in Italy.
NetEnt enters Italian retail market
By signing an agreement with German gaming machine producer Gauselmann, NetEnt’s games will become available in the Italian Comma 6a market (also known as AWPs). It’s one of the largest gaming machine markets in Europe with over 350.000 machines in operation. The licensing agreement was signed with Gauselmann’s subsidiary Merkur Gaming Italia that has approximately 3,000 Comma 6a machines installed in Italy. Besides NetEnt content being distributed by Merkur Gaming Italia, the contract with NetEnt will also enable distribution of games to machines owned by other companies.
While there’s a good chance that more NetEnt games will follow in the near future, the agreement initially covers the most popular NetEnt slot Starburst™, as well as the cutting-edge slot Eggomatic™.
At first, the iGaming industry wasn’t that enthusiastic about the Starburst™ slot, but simplicity won it from popular feature-packed video slots like Gonzo’s Quest™ and Jack Hammer™. Starburst™ was already involved with the William Hill agreement and now again this popular content will be distributed in a regulated iGaming market.
The Starburst™ slot will be accompanied by Eggomatic™ of which I believe it never received the attention it deserves. Therefore, I’m glad to see that this NetEnt game is involved with the agreement signed with Gauselmann’s subsidiary Merkur Gaming Italia. This way, one of the best-designed video slots the iGaming market is rich, will become available in the Italian retail market. Both NetEnt slots are expected to be launched by the first quarter of 2017.
”I’m very excited about working together with Gauselmann. This partnership combines our vast online gaming experience and award-winning digital games with one of the world leaders in the land-based gaming machine industry”, says Enrico Bradamante, Chief of European Market Operations and MD of NetEnt Malta Ltd.
Merkur Gaming Italia is a member of the German-based Gauselmann Group employing over 8,000 people. The company has many years of experience as a manufacturer of machines and seems a perfect match for distributing the NetEnt slots into the Italian retail market. Merkur Gaming Italia delivers the best possible gaming experience, offering their customers more than just a game. Their huge library of titles is combined into multi-game cabinets, to suit any client base.
“I’m delighted to announce that NetEnt games content will soon be available in our games portfolio of Italian Comma 6a machines and I’m confident that players will be amazed by the quality of these games. NetEnt is a valued partner and I’m thrilled that we are now able to offer their games to Italian consumers,” says Roberto Migliozzi MD of Merkur Gaming Italia.