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Review ICE LONDON 2020


NOVOMATIC had an absolute ball at ICE London 2020


In 2020, NOVOMATIC celebrates its 40th year, a great success and landmark for the Austria-based gaming giant. At ICE 2020, the NOVOMATIC Group of companies were showing over 200 gaming terminals on their monster booth in London, with new game titles and brand new cabinets to suit every possible gaming application


“ICE 2020 is a very special exhibition for NOVOMATIC, not least because we are celebrating our 40th anniversary. We only present our product portfolio here, but we are also showcasing for our customers and partners how we have developed over the past 40 years,” said Harald Neumann, CEO of NOVOMATIC AG, expressing his pride in the company’s innovative power at a press conference during the ICE exhibition.


Speaking at the NOVOMATIC press conference on the first day of ICE, Mr. Neumann gave a pragmatic assessment of the company's recent progress: "Regarding the last two years for NOVOMATIC, 2018-2019 have been hard years for the company due to huge regulatory changes in our key markets, such as Germany in 2018, whereby we had to change all our gaming machines to adapt to new procedures and technologies. Tis resulted in the company adapting over 100,000 machines in the German street market.


"Tis had a negative impact on the first half year results for Novomatic in 2019. However, the positive news is that in the second half of 2019 we experienced a very strong period for the company in Germany and are forecasting 2020 to be be a year of growth," stated Mr. Neumann. "We are expecting 20 per cent growth in this market in 2020 as compared with 2019."


Italy was another troublesome market for NOVOMATIC, with three tax increases in 2019, which meant that the company subsequently had to adjust its machines payouts to adapt to these increases, creating additional work for development teams, and as a result both Italy and Germany hit NOVOMATIC's balance sheet in 2019. However, in the last three months NOVOMATIC


P54 NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA


has also seen growth in Italy that is continuing into 2020.


"Tis year we are concentrating upon our key markets, with a very clear growth strategy, for example, in the UK," described Mr. Neumann. "We sold our technology business in the UK to Inspired in 2019, but we still have a significant operations business in the UK. In Germany, we have carried out all the necessary machine adaptations and this is now the time for selective acquisitions in the operations sector. Acquisitions on the whole are not the focus of NOVOMATIC going forward this year, but there are always opportunities that need to be considered."


In Central and Eastern Europe, NOVOMATIC's operations business is growing and in Spain the company plans to acquire additional arcades in 2020. In France, the company is enjoying excellent sales numbers while a new online treaty in Germany, which will be in affect from June 2021, will be very positive for the Group. "As you can imagine, in a market that generates 50 per cent of the GGR for the company, if you have ongoing uncertainty about the future, this is not the best environment in which to define your future strategy," stated Mr. Neumann. "We now have a clear picture for the immediate future of the business in Germany and this is very helpful and makes our work much easier."


In the US, cooperation with Ainsworth is helping to improve NOVOMATIC's market presence in North America. Mr. Neumann recognised that the company is not yet a specialist in the US market, while Ainsworth has also had some weaknesses over the last 12 months. However, he considers the products being shown by Ainsworth at ICE and made available to operators over the next few


Harald Neumann, David Hasselhoff and Ryszard Presch cutting the NOVOMATIC 40th Anniversary cake at ICE London 2020.


months to be very promising.


"Many of the regulatory challenges facing the business in Europe have now stabilised," concluded Mr. Neumann. "What we are expecting in the future is much stronger player protection across the regulatory framework in Europe, with key countries taking the lead. NOVOMATIC is well prepared for these changes having been a major force in adopting these measures in advance. NOVOMATIC is G4 certified, which is the highest level of player protection certification. We are the first major slot developer to be G4 certified, which incorporates corporate responsibility and player protection."


GREENTUBE IS A PILLAR OF STRENGTH


Greentube is the key online division for the NOVOMATIC Group, with around 550 employees, the majority of whom are based in Austria, with further staff in the UK and Malta, as well as development teams in Slovakia, Canada and Greece. In 2019, Greentube generated top line revenues of €140m, contributed by the three pillars of the business: social gaming, gaming content and the operation of online casinos.


"In 2019, we added over 50 new customers and went live on more than 120 new sites, which means that on a monthly basis we are servicing over one million players," described Greentube CEO, Tomas Graf. "Nevertheless, Greentube continues to face regulatory headwinds, just as in the land-based business. We experienced tax increases in Italy, from 20 to 25 per cent, with further challenges and sea changes in the UK, advertising bans in Italy from the third quarter of last year, adding pressure to the markets. However, overall, we enjoyed very positive business development in 2019 with around 20 per cent growth compared to the previous year."


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