Review of the Gambling News in 2021

By Simon Wright, Last updated Jan 31, 2023

At the time of writing this piece and our review of the gambling news for the past twelve months, 2021 is now in the rear view mirror so to speak, as we have entered a new year in the form of 2022. So let us take a look at what made the headlines here on Casinomeister during the past 12 months of 2021, a year that seems to have flown by.

Unfortunately like 2020 before it, 2021 continued to be affected by the Covid 19 pandemic, with this once again causing the cancellation and postponement of numerous industry shows and events.

For players residing in the UK, 2021 also proved to be a year where the regulator of the gambling industry in the country, the UKGC, continue to look out for players collective interests. So if for example you enjoyed using the autoplay facility when whiling away some of your time on an online slot machine, you can thank the Gambling Commission for its removal!

January 2021

Well it wouldn’t be January without the annual Casinomeister Awards shortlist being released at the start of the month, with the subsequent winners being unveiled just before the conference season commenced in early February. Wait a minute, conferences? Unfortunately the ICE Show at the London Excel, followed by the London Affiliate Conference were cancelled due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.

Of course with the UK in January 2021 being in the midst of a national lockdown, this  left the organisers Clarion Gaming no choice but to cancel said shows.

2019’s Casinomeister ‘Best Casino’ award winner All British Casino were once again in the running to pick up the most coveted of coveted casino awards, being joined on the shortlist by Bitstarz, Unibet and the ‘Casino of the Decade’ just gone in the form of Videoslots.

February 2021

As with the ICE and LAC shows, there was also a ‘no show’ when it came to the annual Casinomeister meet up at Waxy O’Connors in Leicester Square.  So the annual Casinomeister meet, which first started way back in 2008 at the Atlas Pub near the old and no longer with us Earls Court venue where the ICE used to be held, hit the buffers and its 13 year continuous run was unceremoniously stopped. Thanks a lot Covid!

However, there was alas no stopping the unveiling of the annual Casinomeister Awards, which saw All British Casino beat off some strong competition and win for the second year running the ‘Best Casino’ award. Other notable winners included the Betsson Group who picked up the ‘Best Casino Group’ award.

March 2021

The month of March saw the UK Gambling Commission once again bare their teeth, this time sharpening them on Casumo who were once again in the sights of the UKGC when it comes to enforcing regulatory action.

The operator were hit with a £6m fine as a result of the UKGC identifying that Casumo’s Social Responsibility procedures fell short of what is required of maintaining their UK licence.

This fine followed that of one meted out back in 2018, whereby Casumo were ordered to pay a £5.85m penalty package.

The other big story of the month was Football Index’s UKGC licence being suspended amid concerns of the continued viability of the site.

April 2021

The month of April started with the news that the bet365 supremo Denise Coates was once again the highest earning individual in the UK, taking home a cool £469m during the past year. The news much to the chagrin of parts of the mainstream media, caused a debate once again about the gambling industry and betting companies profiting from problem gambling.

Whilst the independent bookmaker Betfred lost a High Court battle with their customer Andy Green, with the court ordering Betfred to payout £1.7m in withheld winnings.

May 2021

Casinomeister kicked off their new series of interviews with casino game studios and on the 14th May  Mike Bauerlein from Triple Edge Studios was in the hot seat, answering our questions which we put to him.

May 2021 also saw Microgaming celebrating their 20th year based out of the Isle of Man, which also saw the casino game studio make 20 separate charitable donations in recognition of their time headquartered on the island.

Other prominent news during the month also saw the responsible gambling app and registered charity BetBlocker, receive a donation from Novomatic’s Interactive Division Greentube.

June 2021

The 10th June saw Casinomeister celebrating its 23rd birthday, with Bryan Bailey commenting: “It’s hard to fathom that an idea that was initiated during a lunch at Oscars in San Diego became what it is today. To me it’s not only a business, but a service and a gathering of like-minded people – many of whom I have grown close to.”

“I am humbled by the fact that Casinomeister has brought so many folks together, spawned friendships, romances, and in one instance (that I know of) – a marriage. I take pride in the site, and will always stay true to my vision, my community, and to my friends. It’s been an amazing ride these past 23 years, and I’m planning to ride this out until the end of the Internets.”

Microgaming’s progressive jackpot slot Mega Moolah! saw its jackpot being hit yet again, with a lucky player achieving a life changing win of €6,597,136.10.

The end of June saw the Belgian gambling regulator announce that they had updated their blacklist of domain names, covering those sites which attempt to operate in the Benelux country without an appropriate licence to do so. Also the UKGC provided an update concerning Football Index.

July 2021

Euro 2020 fever was well and truly among us during July, with England getting to the final at Wembley against Italy, which saw the ‘home’ side lose out on a nail biting penalty shoot out. As such we publicised a thread here on the Casinomeister forum concerning ‘Mad Euro 2020’ bets that could be had.

The Swedish operator Kindred posted strong interim results at the end of the month, with the owners of Unibet and 32Red proving that they are going from strength to strength.

Microgaming’s hotly anticipated reboot of their Thunderstruck slot in the form of Thunderstruck Wild Lightning was released.

August 2021

The Australian slot game developer Lightning Box were acquired by the US based Scientific Games, with Lightning Box’s CEO Peter Causley stating: “Joining the Scientific Games team and working even more closely with them comes at the perfect time to drive forward our ambitious product innovation plans.”

This month also saw Pragmatic Play’s Social Tournaments celebrate paying out over $1,000,000 in cash prizes, in just 2 years since its conception.

September 2021

888 Holdings plc acquired all non US assets of William Hill from Caesars Entertainment for a consideration of £2.2bn, a good fit for both so it would seem! Certainly Itai Pazner, the  Chief Executive Officer of 888 seemed to think so when he commented: “The acquisition of William Hill International is a transformational and hugely exciting moment in 888’s history.”

“This transaction will create one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups with superior scale, exceptional brands, increased diversification, and a platform for strong growth.”

888 and indeed William Hill’s online operations have certainly come in for much criticism here on the forum at Casinomeister over the years…

The iGaming compliance specialists Rightlander announced near the end of the month that they had partnered with BetBull  to help and assist the operator improve their affiliate compliance. Rightlander’s Nicole Mitton commenting on the news, said: “It’s great to see operators like BetBull partnering with Rightlander to ensure adherence to advertising regulations.”

“These efforts are not only noteworthy from a regulatory point of view, but are also a solid indicator that BetBull are invested in protecting the interests of their stakeholders, affiliates and players in regulated markets.”

October 2021

The stand out big newsworthy story of October was the news that BGO Entertainment had their licence revoked and suspended by the UK Gambling Commission. This ultimately saw the operator close its doors at the end of 2021.

Fans of the John Hunter series of slot games received some good news, with yet another John Hunter themed slot game being released.  Pragmatic Play the developer of the game had high hopes for John Hunter and the Quest for Bermuda Riches ™, with Yossi Barzely of Pragmatic Play stating:  “The John Hunter series has become a staple of our portfolio, and we’re thrilled to inject new life into it with the launch of John Hunter and the Quest for Bermuda Riches™.”

“We’re always looking for new ways to entertain our customers with exciting content, and the John Hunter series presents us with the perfect opportunity to continue an epic narrative with equally thrilling mechanics.”

November 2021

The second annual Safer Gambling Week commenced at the start of the month, which saw a number of events being held during the week of 1st – 7 th November 2021.

Casino game studio 4ThePlayer announced that a lucky player had scooped $75,000 win playing their 90k Yeti Gigablox™ slot game.  With Andrew Porter the Chief Executive Officer CEO of 4ThePlayer commenting on the win:

“One of our signatures is entertainment coupled with real big win potential, so it’s brilliant to see 90k Yeti Gigablox deliver such a big win so soon after it’s released. We hope the player enjoys their winnings!”

December 2021

BGO Entertainment confirmed that in light of their UKGC licence being suspended, that they will be closing their operations permanently on 31st December.

Clarion Gaming also confirmed the postponement once again of their annual ICE show at London Excel which was due to be held at the start of Feb 2022.

Simon Wright

Simon Wright has been both a player and an observer of the online casino industry for over 15 years. His knowledge of the online casino industry – to include sports is massive. Not many folks have the experience or his knowledge about online gambling. His adoration of football is also noted. He has painted his house blue (Chelsea) and annoys his neighbors with local football songs on game days.

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